- Storyboards are pictures which show what your movie will look like.
- Thumbnail storyboards are the first sketches of the storyboards for a scene. Usually, these quick sketches are no bigger than your thumbnail. That is why they are called "Thumbnail storyboards". Amazing, isn't it?
Most thumbnail storyboards are just tiny stick figure drawings. That is all you needed to explain your shots to me.
- You say, "What is the big deal?"
- Storyboards are important for two reasons.
- Make Decisions
- When you draw the storyboards, you make all the visual decisions for your movie. This is the step where the movie begins to have life. Once the storyboards are complete, any skilled filmmaker can visualize how the final movie will appear.
- Storyboard are more than just pretty pictures. Anyone can make a good looking shot.
- The storyboards explain the continuity of the shots. Do all the shots work together? The storyboards are the first (and best) test of the continuity of the shots.
- Tremendously powerful
- All this comes from just those tiny sketches. It is amazing how something this simple can be so vital to the making of movie.
Thumbnails are very simple storyboard. Just enough to explain the shot.
Can you see what is happening?
by Mukesh Tiwari
3D frames by Robert Elliott
Looking at poster
"That was a great movie..."
Young Person (continued):
"but I do not understand one thing."
Cut to the Old Person looking towards the camera
Old Person: What's that?
"How can anyone be seduced by the Dark Side?"
The old person thinks for a while.
"What computer do you have at home?"
The Young Person (eagerly):
"But what computer does your father use at work?"
The young person thinks for a moment.
Young Person (amazed and excited):
"Seduced by the Dark Side!"
The old person smiles.
Old Person and the Young Person
walk toward home together.
How to draw thumbnail storyboard
- A. Position of the heads
- In simplest terms, a thumbnail storyboard is just the location of the heads of the people in the scene. If you can clearly show the position, size, and expression of each person's head, most everything else is clear.
- B. Body optional
- The bodies of the actors can also be drawn but this step is not required. By drawing the body, you help show how each actor relates to the others in the scene, however, drawing the head usually already shows this information.
- C. Camera angle
- This shows how you will frame the shot. This is what makes the shot visual appealing.
- D. The Lens is the Thing
- You need to explain the relationship between the characters in the scene. The relationship of the characters in a storyboard frame is not about acting but about the lens that will used to film the scene. So when you draw the thumbnail storyboard to show the relationship between the actors, you also explain to the cinematographer what lens is needed to capture this image. (More about lenses in a later chapter which is still under construction.)
Recommended Frame Size
- Thumbnail storyboards are very simple. Therefore, the smallest possible frame size is the ideal size. I find that 160 by 90 pixels is a good size for thumbnail storyboards for motion pictures that will be released in the 16 by 9 aspect ratio. These numbers are easy to remember since, obviously, a frame which is 160 by 90 pixels has a 16-by-9 aspect ratio.
- If you are using a program like ArtRage where texture is important, a frame size of 160 by 90 pixels is too small and awkward. I use a frame size of 640 by 360 pixels and later reduce the completed image to 160 by 90 pixels.
More Advanced Storyboards
- Thumbnail storyboards are only the first step. This is not the final step.
- More accurate storyboards are needed for the camera person. These are the 3D storyboards.
- Larger storyboards are needed for the animatic (a movie of the storyboards).
- Beautiful storyboards are needed for the investors.
- For the animated version, storyboards that become the keyframes of the animated version of the movie.
- Fortunately, for now, all we need is rough sketches which is thumbnail storyboards. As simple as these pictures seem, they are the starting point for the entire filmmaking process.
The Vocabulary of Storyboards
- When you create a storyboard, even a simple thumbnail storyboard, you are using the visual vocabulary of motion pictures. That means if you put two people in a shot, then you have created a "Two Shot". And if your shot is a wide angle shot at the beginning of a movie, you are creating an establishing shot.
Camera and actor's movements
- When possible, include information such as camera moves and the angle of each shot in the drawings that you do.
- If you need to show how the camera moves in a shot, you can simply draw two storyboards which show the beginning and the ending position of the camera and actors in the shot. Or you can draw an arrow in the storyboard frame to explain where the camera is moving during the shot.
- Don't forget to draw the camera angle. If the camera is pointing up, draw the heads smaller than normal. If the camera is pointing down at the actor, make the heads larger.
- Also, the eyes of the actor's can explain the position of the camera and the position of the other actors in the scene.
Wide angle vs. Telephoto
- Learn to draw the distortion of a lens. Use only wide angle and telephoto lenses, never a neutral (50mm) lens. Here is why:
1. Wide Angle Lens (Good)
- A wide angle lens creates the feeling of distance and cold.
2. Telephoto Lens (Good)
- A telephoto lens creates the feeling of warmth and close together.
3. A Neutral Lens (Usually Bad)
- A neutral lens has no distortion so everything appears as if viewed by the human eye. Without distortion, visual information is missing. The pictures are neither warm nor cold, close or distant. This lack of information makes the picture boring.
How Many Drawings are Enough?
- Look at the unformatted script for Seduced by the Dark Side!. Each line is numbered. Therefore, you probably need at least one picture for each numbered line. If you have a special camera move or a special effect, you can create more than one picture. One picture for the beginning of the shot and one picture for the end of the shot is nice.