What is a storyboard? And why do you need one?

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What is a storyboard? If you want to make an animated video, creating a storyboard is the second step of the animated video production process – right after creating your script.  Without a storyboard, your whole project might fall apart.

What is a storyboard?

So… what is a storyboard? According to dictionary.com, it’s:

“…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 are usually willing to 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 to 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?”

If there is ambiguity in your storyboard, illustrators or animators may create the wrong thing. Or, it could delay production while the project manager gets clarification from the client about what they intend to show in a particular scene. It’s best to over explain what you want to show using simple language. If needed, include reference images within your storyboard to help the illustrators and animators better understand the intended vision.

Storyboard Format

So, what does a storyboard include? Each slide of a storyboard is comprised of four parts:

1). Script

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.

What is a storyboard

2). Visual Mockup

This is a rough sketch or a mockup of whatever you want to show during this part of the script. You can create the visual mockup for your storyboard by sketching it on paper, taking a photo with your smartphone and inserting it into your storyboard. You can also use free images and icons you find online to mock up all the scenes for your animated video.

What is a storyboard

3). Directions

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.”

What is a storyboard

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, etc).

What is a storyboard

Storyboard Diagram

The diagram below shows examples of what kinds of information should be included on each slide of your storyboard.

What is a storyboard diagram

Animated Video Storyboard Diagram

 

How to create a storyboard

For detailed instructions on how to create your own storyboard, check out this article:


And for more tips on how to build a great storyboard for an animated video, check out this companion article:

 

Download Our Free Storyboard Template

You can save hundreds or thousands of dollars off your animated video production budget if you create the storyboard yourself. You don’t need any artistic ability to create one. All you need to be able to do is brainstorm ideas for the visuals to correspond with each part of your script and then create simple instructions for the illustrators and animators so they understand what you want them to create. Download our free storyboard PDF template here.

 

What does a storyboard look like for an animated video?

Below are some examples to show you what you scene mockups may look like for your video project. Your sketches/mockups don’t need to look professional, they are just there to provide simple visual context in the instructions. The art team is responsible for taking in all your information and turning it into professional looking custom art for your animated video.

Hand Drawn Example:

Example of what a rough sketched storyboard looks like.

Example of what a hand drawn storyboard looks like.

 

Clip Art / Icon-Based Example:

Example of what an animated video storyboard looks like when created using clip art and stock images to mock up the scene.

Example of what an animated video storyboard looks like when you use clip art and stock images to mock up the scenes.

 

Either format is acceptable

Use free clip art, stock assets, icons and sketches to mock up the visuals for your animated video.

Use free clip art, stock assets, icons and sketches to mock up the visuals for your animated video.

 

What does the final art look like?

Don’t worry about making your storyboard mockups look professional. It’s our job to turn your mockups into professional looking art. Just focus on providing clear instructions so the illustrators and animators understand what you want them to create.

Your mockup turned into professional animated art.

Your mockup turned into professional animated art.

 

Example of what a storyboard looks like and the animation that was created from it

Click here to download a PDF example of a full storyboard. Below, you can see the animated video 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.

Storyboard Animation Example


 

What Are Some Other Storyboard Formats?

The storyboard format described above is the ideal format because it keeps the information organized and provides information in a written and visual format. 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 of the script. Then put the next line in [brackets like this] when you describe what is supposed to be happening visually on screen during this part of the script.

Example Of A Written Storyboard For An Animated Explainer Video Igniter

Example Of A Written Storyboard For An Animated Explainer Video Igniter

 

Example 2: Written Storyboard V2

Sometimes people will organize their written storyboard into a table to look like this:

Example of what is a written storyboard

Example of a written storyboard formatted into a table

 

Example 3: Sketched Storyboard

Sometimes people create storyboards by simply sketching out a scene, connecting it with the corresponding part of the script and including a little blurb about the motion design for that scene. In this case, the design and animation teams are heavily relying on detailed sketches that clearly show the details of the scene and how the visuals 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 are high quality.

What does a hand sketched storyboard look like?

Example of a hand drawn storyboard for an explainer video.

 

Outsource Your Storyboard Creation & Animation to Video Igniter

– +20 reasons companies love outsourcing their animation projects to Video Igniter.

– You can use Video Igniter to outsource the production of any kind of 2D or 3D animated video you can imagine.

– World class design talent at prices small businesses can afford.

Animation Demo Reel


 

Success Stories & Testimonials

“Video Igniter came to us with a number of creative and engaging ideas and were able to create an exciting, impactful video in a short period of time. And the best part was that it cost much less than other options of similar quality. The video they made is a great marketing tool for us.”

Alex Raymond – Founder, Kapta Systems

“Video Igniter offered us the critical combination of creative value, clear communication, and patience with stakeholder feedback. We ended up with truly high-quality design assets for our video series largely due to the extra level of commitment — and the right balance of efficiencies with flexibility in the process when called for.”

Larry Schlessinger – Sr. Creative Program Manager, Amazon Web Services

“I run a video production company and outsource animation. The team at Video Igniter did a great job in taking the concept I very crudely drew out and made it into a beautiful animation. The review process was easy and their turnaround time was very quick. I’d def recommend them if you’re looking for an animation project.”

Pat Henderson – Founder, Path8 Productions

Get in touch

Schedule a call with our production team to discuss creating a storyboard and an animated video for your company.

Get a quote for your animated video.

Request access to our newest price sheet.

Create your Video Igniter account, fill out a creative brief, and then we’ll make your animated video for you.

Schedule a call with a member of our production team to discuss your animate video.

 

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