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For inventive storytellers on a shoestring budget, short films have been a medium of choice for decades. Not only do short films tap the unlimited potential of visual storytelling, but also leverage the power of the digital revolution and the popularity of mass media channels such as YouTube, Vimeo, etc.

Making a short film could be divided into three main stages -

  • Pre-production Stage: Developing the script, generating funds and planning the shooting schedule
  • Production Stage: The actual duration of the film shoot
  • Post-production: Film editing, color grading, sound mixing, and visual effects

Whether you are a novice or an experienced filmmaker, a short film could serve as an incredible training ground for you to train your creative flair, and create a feature film which can be monetized, seen, and even sold. Therefore, it is especially useful that you employ storyboards during the pre-production stage of your film shoot for better overall results.

Why Use Storyboarding Tips and Techniques?

Simply put, storyboards are hand-drawn illustrations which are ideally used to show shot locations, camera placement, and feature composition. The history of storyboards predates to the 1930s, when Webb Smith, a Walt Disney animator drew scenes and pinned them up in sequence for his crew to see. But even with advancements in filmmaking technology over the years, the first complete storyboard was created to pre-plan a Disney short film - Three Little Pigs, only in the year 1993!

Now, most Hollywood producers have a separate team of artists working on film storyboards much before production starts, but for an indie-filmmaker, storyboarding still poses a daunting challenge which must be faced alone.

Storyboarding can not only help you plan out scenes and camera placements, but also allow you to experiment with changing sequences so that you can visualize the final edit of your film. This, in turn, can help you save a lot of time, and more importantly, for those on a minuscule budget, it means greater cost savings as well.

So how to get started with the process of storyboarding? Here we present our top storyboarding tips that can help short filmmakers get started with their dream project.

8 Storyboarding Tips for Your Short Films

Although it requires time and effort, still Storyboarding is now being used during the pre-production stages for AAA Hollywood titles, video games, TV shows and even commercials. The following short filmmaking tips will help you get started and get going on the road to creating efficient storyboards -

  1. Grids Are Your Best Friend!

    Before starting off make sure you set up grids on your storyboard paper. If you are just starting off, try and avoid commercial storyboard makers and other such software.

    More often than not, storyboards with 2 columns and 3 rows work fine. At the same time, you can have more grids based on your requirement. Grids will help you develop a sense of space as well as the expected camera positions, and allow you to pace your storyboard properly.

  2. Keep Your Visuals Simple, and Experiment!

    Always remember, your storyboard need not be a work of art! As long as you can draw stick men, you should be able to develop an easy to understand storyboard. Ensure there are no extra embellishments on your storyboard panel so as not to divert your focus.

  3. Avoid Flat Staging

    A storyboard works best when you provide a sense of depth to the characters. By avoiding flat staging, you can provide a 3D perspective which can be useful during the final pre-production stages. Just like a well-composed camera shot, you can frame your storyboard with different elements at different distances to provide a sense of depth.

  4. Develop a Theme for Your Story

    A storyboard is a perfect place to construct an overarching theme for your short film. Camera movements, color tone, etc. are just a few of the things which can help you push a subtle visual theme woven across multiple scenes. A theme will not only help you achieve a unique look and style for your short film but also help you improvise with the story.

  5. Revise! Revise! Revise!

    The storyboarding phase not only helps you find your voice and direction for the story but also offers you the best time to consider making new changes. Remember, you are free to kill off characters you considered vital to the storyline, or give less important characters more prominence. Only when you feel satisfied with the final storyboard, you should get ready for production.

  6. Find Motivation for Your Cuts

    Any seasoned filmmaker will tell you that editing becomes an easier task when one scene leads to another, and the cuts between different scenes have a natural flow to them. A storyboard is the perfect place to find motivation for your cuts, and can be anything from character movements, heads turning, visual and audio cues, etc.

  7. Depict Camera Movement in an Easy-to-understand Manner

    Various camera shots such as panning, tilting, long shots, close-ups, etc. can be easily depicted on a storyboard without making them too confusing. A panning shot can be easily storyboarded by placing frames from the camera pan start point to the end point, and then depicting the camera movement with the help of arrows. This will not only keep your storyboard clean but will easily communicate your requirements with the camera crew.

  8. Check the Storyboard for Glaring Omissions

    Consider it as a rule of thumb, that all storyboards are incomplete without the following -

    • Visualized Characters
    • Technical Camera Location Details
    • Set Locations and Time of shoot (if your shot requires a particular time of day)
    • Verbal dialogue delivery markers

    Forgetting even one aspect of the storyboard can make all your hard work go to waste. So scrutinize your storyboard for errors and omissions, and when you feel you have perfected your storyboard techniques, proceed to the Production phase.

Flatworld Solutions - Your Ideal Destination for Detailed Storyboards

Hope these storyboarding tips were helpful. With over 20 years of experience in working with major Hollywood studios, as well as partnering with some of the top advertisement firms in the world, our movie storyboarding services are ideal if you are looking for detailed storyboards or animatics at cost-effective rates.

Contact us now for high-quality creative design!

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