If you want to make an animated video, the first step is starting with an awesome idea or a script. The second step is turning that information into a storyboard so that the design and animation team know what to make. But what is a storyboard?
What is a storyboard?
You might be wondering – what is a storyboard? According to dictionary.com, the definition of a storyboard is…
“a panel or panels on which a sequence of sketches depict the significant changes of action and scene in a planned film, as for a movie, television show, or advertisement.”
To put it another way, a storyboard is a blueprint that includes written instructions and visual mockups that explain what is going to happen for each scene of an animated or live action video. It helps keep the production information organized so that the production team knows what they are creating. You can create this document yourself using an application like PowerPoint or Keynote – or, if you don’t want to create the storyboard yourself, animation studios and freelancers can help you create a storyboard for your animated video before they move forward with production.
The purpose of a storyboard is…
It is important to create a storyboard that documents in simple terms: what art do you want the designers to create and how do you want the animators to apply motion to the art? A storyboard is a working document that explains what to create, how to sync the voice over and the animation, and what animated sequences need to be created. By having all of this information organized together, animators and designers have a clear understanding of what they need to design and how they need to create it so that it works within the animation, without having to constantly ask the producer, “what do we create here?”
So, what does a storyboard include? Each slide of a storyboard is comprised of four parts:
Each slide of the storyboard contains one sentence or a part of a sentence that will be heard by the viewer while the current visuals are displayed on screen.
2). Visual Mockup
This is a rough sketch or a mockup of the scene or the visuals that will be on display and animated during this particular part of the script. You can create the visual mockup for your storyboard by sketching it on paper, taking a photo on your phone and pasting it into your storyboard – or, you can use free images and icons you find online to mock up the scenes within your storyboard.
A bullet point list of instructions that explain what motions happen on screen in what order. Simple, clear instructions are best and should be documented in chronological order so that the animator reads it like, “first I do this, then this happens, then this.”
4). Asset List
A list of all the audio and visual assets that need to be created for this scene (i.e. red Android phone, dial tone sound effects, mountain background with sunset behind the clouds, etc).
What a storyboard looks like
Here are some storyboard examples to show you what they look like. Note that the sketches/mockups don’t have to look good, they are just there to provide simple visual context in the instructions. The art team is responsible for taking in all this information and creating the custom art for your animated video.
Examples of a storyboard created using sketch or a collage of images and icons :
Example of art created from a storyboard:
Click here to download a PDF example of a full storyboard. Below, you can see a slide from the storyboard and the animation that was created from the storyboard. We recommend skimming through both to get an understanding of how much detail you need to include in your storyboard so that the designers and animators know what to create.
Alternative Storyboard Formats
The storyboard format described above is the ideal format because it keeps the information organized, provides information in a written and visual format – in turn, this facilitates a more streamlined design and animation process because the designers and animators have a better idea of what they are supposed to create. That being said, there are other, easier ways to create a document similar to a storyboard that can still do a decent job of explaining your ideas to the production team.
Example 1: Written storyboard
A written storyboard includes no visuals and relies entirely on visual description. Start by writing a sentence, and then the next line in parenthesis to describe what is supposed to be happening visually during this part of the script.
Sometimes people will organize their written storyboard to look like this:
Example 2: Sketched storyboard
Sometimes people create storyboards by just sketching out a scene and connecting it with the corresponding part of the script. In this case, the design and animation teams are heavily relying on detailed sketches that clearly show the details of the design and how they change from scene to scene. This type of storyboard is only recommended if the artist sketching out the scenes is capable of making sketches that aren’t sloppy.