What Is a Video Storyboard and Why Do You Need One?


Is your business using video for marketing purposes?

If so, a video storyboard can be a valuable tool to help you get organized and ensure you tell the story you would like. In fact, they can be absolutely essential for creating good videos.

You might use storyboarding for any type of video you have to make – advertisements, sales videos, teaching videos and more. They might be videos of real people or animated videos.

Here’s a rundown on storyboarding and why they are important for your videos.

What is a video storyboard?

In a nutshell, a video storyboard is a graphic representation of how your video will unfold. Each shot of your video is shown with a square that depicts what is happening in the scene. There should also be notes about what is happening in the scene and what is being said in the script during each shot.

When you’re preparing any type of video, a storyboard is like your map for getting to the final product. Taking the time to storyboard ahead of shooting a video allows you to consider the best route to get to your end goal.

Video Storyboard

Why use storyboarding?

There are some great reasons to use video storyboarding, all of which help you get a better final result:

#1. You can save time

There tends to be a lot of moving parts and logistics to go with any video. Whether you’re making it yourself, getting help from your team or using the services of another company to help, there will always be different parts to manage and a need for clear communication.

Storyboarding can save you a lot of time, particularly preventing back and forth that is otherwise avoided if the picture is clear to others. If you try to go ahead without a clear outline, it leaves you wide open for miscommunication, more back and forth and more meetings.

Clear storyboarding can help you or your team create a comprehensive production plan so that the whole process goes more smoothly. The parameters of the story can be defined clearly and this helps you make the most of the resources you have available.

#2. It’s a great way to share your vision

Have you ever tried to communicate an idea with someone and found that they struggled to comprehend it as you do? Storyboarding is a good way to ensure your vision is clea, so that those you’re communicating with understand the visual idea as well as any written script.

#3. Learn whether your story works

Plotting out your story and checking for your beginning, middle and end can help to ensure that you have a good story to tell. You need to check whether the script narrative makes sense if translated into the visual medium.

Overall, this can help to improve your quality. You will focus more time and energy into telling the best story possible. For example, you can plan the angles from which the scene will be shot and ensure that you’re not forgetting any important scenes. You can think about lighting, flow and look for any awkward bits or gaps.

The bottom line is that using video storyboards can help ensure your final product is what you envisioned, without a whole lot of wasted time (or money) to get there.

How is a storyboard constructed?

First of all, there are a few ways you might put together a storyboard. As a general rule, they consist of the following components:

  1. Slides or squares, each depicting a scene of the video
  2. Sketches of the scene. These may be hand-drawn, created using computer software or even by using photos.
  3. Space beneath each square for notes or lines of script that will be spoken in that scene. You might include directions such as “wide to medium zoom on the exterior of the building.”

Note that the drawings or pictures don’t have to be highly detailed, but they do need to clearly communicate the idea of the scene. You see some incredible storyboard artists out there, but people who don’t consider themselves to be artists can still get by with some basic sketches.

Here at React, storyboarding is part of what we do regularly. We don’t hand-sketch our storyboards, but we do use our own vector library, along with Adobe Illustrator. We find this to be an effective way to create storyboards efficiently and with clarity. You can see an example below of part of a storyboard we produced for a Medcare video:

Video Storyboard

What makes for a great storyboard?

Here are a few tips for ensuring your storyboard gets you the results you need:

  1. Try and convey a 3D perspective to best show how the scene is laid out. Flat staging doesn’t convey the depth of the scene and is uninteresting.
  2. Know your goals first. What is your overall goal for the video? Are there any sub-goals to get there? Define these clearly so that you can ensure your story will be set up to achieve them.
  3. Consider the visual experience for your audience. For example, it tends to be more engaging if you can include dynamic scenes and camera angles rather than static positioning. The aim should always be to keep your audience engaged throughout and to do so, you should analyze your storyboard to determine if it tells a story in a way that a good movie might.
  4. Ensure that your scenes and story are logical and coherent. For example, jumping from one scene to a completely different one may make sense for the story, but in some cases, it will be quite jarring or confusing. In any case, your story should maintain visual consistency.
  5. Using “ground grids” can be helpful for portraying exactly where a character is in a scene and the camera angles to be used. As it sounds, this is simply dividing up your ground area with gridlines and positioning your character/s within them.
  6. If your scenes involve multiple characters, putting them into logical groupings can help to make cutting between them easier. While cutting from person to person is sometimes a technique that is used (That 70’s Show fans may remember cutting between individuals was used a lot in basement scenes), it can be another jarring experience for the viewer. Usually if you’re creating a marketing video, you want a smooth experience.
  7. Remember that empty space can be just as important as the space that is filled. It’s important not to overcrowd or unnaturally fill up each frame.
  8. For marketing videos, consider adding any elements that will back up your story. For example, you might include graphs, statistics, stories and testimonials.
  9. Body language is crucial for expressing the emotions of a character. Consider how you might position them to convey emotion in your story.
  10. Aim for consistency with your characters. For example, they should be dressed and styled the same way between scenes that are within the same timeframe.

Final thoughts

Storyboarding can be one of your best tools for ensuring that you get the video you are aiming for. It is invaluable as a planning exercise and helps you to share your vision with anyone else who is involved in making the video.

Storyboarding can also save you time and ensure that your story is engaging and consistent. A successful business video will hold the audience from start to finish because they are interested in what will happen next.

Lastly, storyboarding helps you to clearly lay out the elements of a good story. Storytelling is an important skill for producing successful videos, helping you to get engagement and shares.

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