Film schools all around the world teach the same basic fundamentals when it comes to camera operating, and to such a degree that experimentation might conceivably be discouraged.
Even if you’ve only a passing interest in the subject, it’s likely you’ll be all too familiar with the most common shot types and transitions used by Hollywood.
But the fact remains that most independent filmmakers do not and will not have the budget to carry out expensive shoots in custom-built and controlled environments.
It’s one of the reasons why storyboarding is such an important step during pre-production, and why the storyboard artist must tailor their approach to ensure the needs of the director can be met with the available equipment.
Storyboarding and Traditional Notation
For decades pen and paper was the way to go where storyboards were concerned. The process was perfectly efficient at conveying what shot sequences would be needed to create each scene.
Annotation typically appeared scrawled next to the panels explaining the more elusive aspects of onscreen storytelling such as character movement, framing and camera transitions.
The Onset of Digital Disruption
Digital technologies have done much to streamline the process of creating storyboards, including elevating the artform to a cinematic level.
Individual panels are now much more detailed with a greater variety of textures and effects to capture the atmosphere as well as the action. Accordingly, the arrows that served to indicate that action have seen less use.
This paradigm shift has brought the humble storyboard more in line with concept art and modern examples of the pre-production workflow tend to omit the arrows, opting for a cleaner and less cluttered look.
Today, storyboard art routinely becomes a key reward and selling point in many film-related crowdfunding campaigns, making them even more valuable to the director.
However, we must never forget the main function of a storyboard – to aid in the production of a story on a technical level.
Adding a Layer of Animation
With on-screen storytelling becoming increasingly sophisticated, there is a clear and present need for thorough pre-production, and sometimes static panels aren’t enough. Enter motion design.
Of all the tools available to the tech-savvy filmmaker, animatics represent one of the best and most effective ways to visually translate a script.
Whilst there are obvious benefits to storyboarding an entire screenplay, many filmmakers wonder how animatics help sell action scenes as this is perhaps their most pertinent use.
What the Future Holds for Storyboards
How the storyboarding process is taken will rest with the decision making capabilities of the director and producer, but my expectation is that storyboards will always have a role to play in the making of a film.