The storyboarding process for film and television is generally well understood. The intended purpose and thus output however is shaped by a few subtle nuances in approach.
What methodology works for storyboarding a film may not work in the context of creating a storyboard for a television commercial (TVC) in spite of a skillset that is more or less transferable.
It may seem like splitting hairs but there are good reasons to delve into this subject in detail. And with that, let’s look at four TVC storyboarding strategies that work.
1. Use What You Have at Hand
Speed is your friend. The last thing you’ll want to do when you are on the clock for a client is waste time wondering which plan of attack will yield visually better results.
Whether you prefer to work with a drawing tablet and Photoshop, the tactile feel of pencil on paper or a broad mix, go with whatever media will get results.
If you spent time rending a series of frames for aesthetics but miss the mark in terms of storytelling, your hard work will have gone to waste. Don’t do it to yourself. Just get started.
2. Plan for Motion
One of the biggest differences in storyboarding for television as opposed to film is the amount of time allocated to pre-production. As a result there often is never any time to turn a storyboard into an animatic.
However, by incorporating this design aspect into your workflow so that it can be made possible you will be increasing your versatility—a trait highly valued in the industry—and chances of getting the call.
The ability to develop an animatic for complicated action and adapt to evolving work orders that meet the needs of time-pressured producers as a storyboard artist is invaluable and should go a long way towards helping you secure repeat clients.
3. Create Order with Key Frames
TVCs generally last for a maximum of thirty seconds and because of this the number of key frames needed to explain the story are condensed accordingly. This leaves little room for error.
The script will call for the development of a central theme to illicit an emotional response from the viewer which typically translates into well-framed fast cuts and transitions that broadly explore the subject matter.
As long as the audience is not lost between cuts and always connects with the story being told, you are doing your job during pre-production as a storyboard artist.
It may help you to think of storyboarding for television as a distant cousin to animation. Focus on the major points of action and leave out eighty percent of the in-betweens. Sell the unique selling point, simple as that.
4. Omit (Most) Action Cues
And finally, one other thing you may find useful to do when tackling a storyboard for a commercial is to drop the use of cinematic direction and action cues—or arrows—from your workflow.
Why? Because the director’s vision is subservient to story and this limits the scope of fancy camera work and it will often be locked down on a tripod to aid in the readability of shots.
The time you save will most likely be minimal per panel required but over the course of time and many panels later you may see sizeable gains. So don’t be afraid to keep directional indicators to a minimum or omit them entirely.
And that’s it! We hope you enjoyed this article and for help with all your storyboarding or animatic design needs, please contact us!