To use or not to use storyboards

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In order to introduction to the people who want to learn more about some details of film production or production development, I´m going to write a little bit about storyboards.

I used to upload some storyboards from my own projects, from publicity and tv or internet series. Basically the storyboard is a tool of communication between the director and all the team that is producing his/her movie or video. There´s a lot of director who like to draw his/her own storyboards and there´s no limits or rules to make them, I mean, they can be sticks and circles drawings, or they can be incredible drawings. The principal thing is to communicate whit your favorite resources, there´s no special technics or styles, just your own skills.

In order to believe what I´m saying, here there´s some examples from different movies that shows different storyboard styles:


Director: Stanley Kubrick - Designer: Saul Bass

The birds

Director: Alfred Hitchcock - Designer: Harold Michelson

Taxi Driver

Director y designer: Martin Scorsese

Apocalypse Now

Director: Francis Ford Coppola - Designer: Dean Tavoularis

Well, there´s different kind of storyboards. For films, generally there´s a single character design or even some storyboards try to make the drawings like the actors. Of course in animation storyboards almost always you can find the same characters that appears in the movie. But there´s different cases for different movies and of course there´s movie that don´t need a storyboard.

The main case to not use a storyboard is in a documentary movie, this is for obvious reasons, but also in some fiction movies is not necesary. It depends mostly of the director style of work and also depends on the movie treatment. I mean, if you are going to shoot a movie with a free camera and with a lot of improvisation, is better to work hard in the planning with the crew having the focus on the style of the movie and keep them ready to react in any situation.

I talk about documentary cases, there´s always exceptions, because there´s always filmmakers that brakes the "rules" or look for their own ways of production. For some documentaries some directors use animation sequences that need an storyboard, but also some really real documentary can use another style of storyboards. I´m talking about the photography storyboards, is very common to see them when the directors try to make an order of their investigation.

Documentary Storyboard example (source)

About, other kind of storyboards, we have the publicity storyboards. This kind of storyboards always are made very fast and with the agency requirements. They don´t use to have a singular character design and we use some default human traits to draw. This kind of storyboards always have to be drawn in an universal way, in order to anybody could understand them, because in this cases, the storyboard artist is just needed to draw and and generally does not participate in the production stage.

Publicity Storyboards (Ignacio Ruiz)




Well, that is all for now. Maybe this was a kind of basic, but this is one of my favorite areas of the film production. In Filmannex there´s some interesting director who also shared their storyboards to the world, if you are interested you can look for them (and also mine).

Thanks again for reading!!






About the author


Director and animator specialized in Art Direction and screenwriting; he was born in Puerto Montt city. Studied in the Cinema School at “Universidad de Valparaíso de Chile”, then illustration in the creatives school “Brother Advertisement”. In his films he works with minusious art direction and always he is looking for…

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