Conceptual Storyboarding


Creating a Video From Start to Finish


Lesson Info

Conceptual Storyboarding

As we talk about shaping the storyboard, we spent so much time listening to them talk, we spent so much time just figuring out what their story is, what their history is, what their lie is, what everything that we're trying to understand and glean from this 30-minutes of just constant talking. Constant talking, constant talking. For us, hey, that's the most important thing. The least important thing is you don't need to be an artist. You don't need to draw stick figures. You don't need to draw anything. You don't need to have anything laid out. All you need is just a pen and paper so you can write down some words. A lot of times, when I start thinking about a storyboard, I like to start at the beginning or the end. I like to know where I'm gonna start or I'm gonna end up. Because it will help inform what the middle's gonna be. And that's just the way that I work. I like to have a direction. I like to know where I'm going. Otherwise if I don't have at least some target to shoot for, I s...

tart to meander in the edit a little bit. And that's one thing that we have to practice. We tend to, as photographers, like to meander in our edits. Meaning, we want to tell everyone everything. We want to show everything. Because we put so much time and effort into this project so far that we want to give them everything. But the reality of it is, the more you cut, the better that video is gonna be. Hands down, hands down. Every single time the more you cut, the better it's gonna be. Because the purpose of a video is to get them to want to know just a little bit more. To get them to want to see just a little bit more. That's why when you watch TV or, you know, episodic television, or narrative movies, they always have that thing where it's like, oh, what's next, what's next, what's next? It keeps them engaged. So we gotta get to that point in our edit where we can get them to want to know just a little bit more. So, why didn't I storyboard earlier? Because in most workflows, the storyboard comes before the shoot. In most things, the storyboard happens before you even roll camera. Before you even pick out gear. Before you do anything. The storyboard happens in the planning process. So why, for this piece, didn't I create a storyboard? Well, I didn't create a storyboard for this piece because profiles are really really difficult. They're really really difficult to plan for during pre-production, especially if you don't know what you're gonna be capturing going in. And because of the organic nature of the project, you kind of have to capture, and then look at what you capture, and then create a storyboard. You have a question back there? Where exactly, you just said, 'cause you don't know the story going in, do other productions, you already have the narrative or a script planned out? Whereas this you have to build it from what you've captured? Thinking like a filmmaker. Right? And here's the thing, right? I see so much more confidence today. And when I talk to you guys about what we're looking at, there's so much more confidence and understanding that, hey, yeah, you are making sense to me. This does make sense. I'm not so scared anymore. I see so many people nodding their heads going, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, this does make sense. I can do this, this looks good. And that's just proof positive that as we kind of just decode and strip away all of the veneer from this myth of filmmaking, and this myth of videos, and this myth of editing, that at it's root, all it is is another way for us to communicate to other people an artistic vision. That's it. We're stripping all of that away. And it's a medium for you guys now to be able to tell a story, to be creative, and to be artists. So, I didn't create a storyboard prior to, because it's difficult to, given the project, we didn't know the real story. So could you imagine spending all that time creating a storyboard and then ditching it? Now, I want a direction, so I did give myself a direction to follow that I was willing to jettison when I got on set. So that's completely different. The last thing here is if you really spend a lot of time trying to go and create a storyboard for this, you end up pigeon-holing yourself. You end up giving yourself no room for compromise. No room to wiggle, no room to be inspired, no room to let your client tell you what they really want. Because you come in with a preconceived notion. Remember earlier in the class I was talking about my biggest fault is I come in with an idea of what I want the client to be, and getting myself away from that is the hardest thing. So everything that we talk about, everything that I do, everything that I throw myself into when it comes to a project like this is to prevent myself from pigeonholing myself and the client into doing something that isn't true, isn't authentic, isn't organic. So as we talk about storyboarding I do wanna, like, throw it up to everyone on the web, and people in the audience too, just like... Is this something that you guys struggle with? And if so, what are some of those struggles? And how can you work through those struggles and what would you like to share so that we can actually, you know, get our heads around this a little bit. I know that some of you guys are making, like, tutorial videos, right? And some of you guys are wanting to make travel videos, and some of you guys are making documentaries. So let's talk about storyboarding in those scenarios so that we get an idea of how storyboards can really help us. And I'm not talking about getting out frames and drawing them, I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about, you know, getting words down on paper so that, directionally, we know where we're gonna go with the story. Where we're gonna go with, so like... Do we start with an emotional statement? Do we move to history of the company? Do we then go to here, okay? So that's what I'm asking you guys. Let's talk about some other types of projects here. Let's talk about other things other than a client profile. So we can get a better understanding of how a storyboard can help inform those types of projects. Anyone? Yeah, it was like, kind of alluded to before the types of videos that I'm making are really about me learning how to create restaurant-quality dishes at home from local chefs, and so it's about bringing these chefs into my home and having that, maybe, sort of the novice, and them coaching me and teaching me and so in each case we're certainly making a recipe from beginning, almost even conceptualization all the way to the end, to the plating and finishing the dish. So I feel like, on some level, there's a clear arc, right? The arc is the development of the dish. And so it's interesting to think about storyboarding in that sense, and then at the same time I feel like it does have these elements of the interview, because I am kind of interviewing them and asking them questions as I go along the way, and in that sense it has some of that organicness as well. So like, actually I've been thinking about... 'cause we talked earlier, you know, and we talked about kind of your vision for this thing. And I think, like, as I was thinking about it, the way we could apply this sort of concept to it is one of two ways: first, it seems like there's gonna be, there has to be a structure to this whole thing. Because if you're gonna do a lot of them, they kinda need to be on the same formula, so that you can crank them out, okay? That's the first thing. So setting yourself a formula, that's a storyboard. Not in the traditional sense, but a formula of how to deliver and how to capture that content is essentially a storyboard. Do you start off with a brief standing interview? Like, hey, what are you doing here? What we're gonna make today. And does it always lead in with that? And it leads in with that, then you can just leave the interview at the beginning of the piece. So, can you see how we're setting up that framework? That way, you know going into the shoot what you're gonna be actually focusing on. First 10 minutes, 20 minutes, we're gonna be focusing on just a quick little interview of the chef and myself, gonna talk real quick, and then we're gonna move into the recipe itself. Now, the recipe has three phases: there's the ingredients, there's the process, there's the result. Can you see how we're chunking it down? Hey, it's like a wedding. Getting ready, pictures after the getting ready, ceremony, formals, reception, exact same thing. We are just applying different words to it. So your project specifically, that storyboard would be, okay, we're gonna start with the interview, we're gonna use that interview to kinda lay the personality of the chef down, lay the framework, hit home why we are doing these videos. Your why is, I love cooking, and I love eating great food, but I don't like to spend a lot of money for it, and I wanna have it in my own home, you know? I love to share food, my passion is food, my passion is x, y, or z. So that's the why that informs the interview. You get that out of the interview then you move into the recipe part. Now the recipe part is really simple. It's really simple, right? You go, okay, I got ingredients. So find a really, easy, creative way that you can replicate over and over and over of showing ingredients and their measurements. So if it's bird's eye view, or it's whatever how you prepare it, it's just rapid-fire. That way you're not spending an hour recording just the ingredients part, okay? And here's the cool thing: you don't even have to do that on the day that that chef is there. You could do that after, that's your B-roll. So now we're setting up a shooting plan, see? All of this is now familiar, and I see everyone in the room going yeah, this makes sense, this makes sense. This is so easy now. I can think about this shoot in different ways. So now you're like, okay, day one of my shoot is gonna be the interview to lay it in. And then, you know what, since the ingredients coming in, that's gonna be B-roll. We gotta get him teaching me how to cook. Alright, if I've only got him for a certain amount of time, immediately, I gotta go two or three cameras. Because I can't do retakes with him, because he's got a limited amount of time. So as you think about this stuff, now you're thinking in unison, storyboards, you're thinking boom, you're thinking... And you're laying it in there. And now you've created your shooting plan, you've created your storyboard, you've created that formula to start cranking these things out. And we haven't even started talking about gear yet. (Audience chuckles) Okay? You got another question right there. I have a travel storytelling website, and my approach so far with our videos has been we just take video of whatever happens in our travels and you come home and you try to make sense of them. I'm just wondering what you think, like whether we should have a more deliberate strategy and how you would approach that specific scenario. You know, I think there's a limit of specificity that has to happen when it comes to travel. I wanna see the world through your eyes. And if your travels meander, then it doesn't give me an understanding of what I should see in order to experience the world that you see. I think there's a lot of travel blogs out there. What's gonna really set you apart is helping people understand what you look for and why you look for those things when you travel. Like when I look at travel, I'll often times show up on a space, maybe have a hotel reservation, maybe have some dinner reservations, but I'll show up with a suitcase and then go. So it's just gung-ho. You know, backpack, or suitcase, and I just, alright, let's walk left. Let's get to the airport, and if I don't speak the language, figure out how to get somewhere with population. I went to Colombia last January, and we flew to Colombia, and it was just like, oh, what now? Well, let's get in a taxi line. Or you know what, let's not get a taxi, that's kinda scary, let's talk to someone in broken Spanish and figure out where do we go, okay, let's go to Santa Marta. It's an hour drive. Cab ride or a car ride will cost you, you know, 40 or 50 bucks, great. So if that's what drives you is being spontaneous, then have your film show that. And there's a formula to that too. When you get there, what's the decision? How do you make a decision? Why are you making these decisions? Do you pick the red pill or do you pick the blue pill? (Audience laughs) So those are things that I wanna know. Give me like a choose-your-own-adventure style of video, where it's, like, exciting but fun, but I get to see the world through your eyes, and you're making these decisions that I wouldn't normally make. That's why Anthony Bourdain is so amazing. That's why all the things he does are so amazing because he's making these choices and he's allowing you to see behind the curtain on some of these choices and show you, as he's making them, his reaction, and what there all is. I mean essentially, it's just a guy eating food, right? Essentially it's just a guy eating food, but yet it's so interesting, okay? Because you understand that he's truly passionate about eating food, and that's his why. So as you think about creating a storyboard for these videos that you create on travel, give yourself a framework. It's, okay, I arrive on site. What's my site plan, okay? Do I survey, okay? And as you start to build these videos, people will begin to recognize that the beginning part's the fun part, 'cause you get there and it's like, okay map, where are we going? You know? And then like, okay we're going here. And then show the process of getting there. And then when you get there, pick something to do. How do you pick what to do? Do you roll dice? I don't know. You know, like what makes it interesting, I think, is not just what you're experiencing, I want you to show me how you got to those experiences. I want you to show me how you got to those moments. Show not tell. Show not tell. When I was a theater student... I did major in sociology and theater. I couldn't make my mind up in college, it was really funny. Six times I changed my major, and then I decided to double in theater and sociology. But as part of my theater curriculum, we had to be a part of playwriting class. The number one thing I got out of that class was, show me, don't tell me. Don't tell me he was scared in your text. Show me he was scared. Don't tell me he was hungry, show me he was hungry. So what does that mean? Oh God, I'm hungry. Or, going and just ravenously eating everything. What matters more, what's more impactful? The guy just going Oh my God I'm so hungry, right? Just eating all that food. So don't tell me you're going somewhere, don't tell me you're ending up in a place, show me that process, and allow me to experience that with you. That's storyboarding, guys. Isn't that much more fun than kind of like drawing it out? Because you're thinking about the process whereby which you're gonna take your viewer through the narrative of what you're talking about. Make sense? Awesome. Okay, so. Just because I'm not drawing or doing something for this client profile doesn't mean I don't prepare. So as I thought about Ivan's storyboard, remember I listened to the audio, I listened to it, listened to it, listened to it... I came up with this. I came up with this. It's as easy as five frames, guys. It doesn't need to be complex. It doesn't need to be hard. It doesn't need to be like this, you know, 2,000 page manifesto, okay? It's a five phrase storyboard. I'm gonna lead in with an emotional statement, 'cause I know we had a lot of them. I'm gonna move to an introduction, 'cause I know he said, hey I'm Ivan, 'cause he's gotta say that. I'm gonna describe the customer because I need to. Show the family, and then end with the why. It's as easy as that. It's taking what you know, taking what you've listened to, and then laying it down in a way so that, honestly, I have this written down, and I tacked it to the mirror that was at the desk in the hotel room so that I always was looking at it. That's what I do, tack it up there and it's like, okay, where's your emotional statement? And I was jettisoning emotional statements. And I made it easy for me too. The introduction, I knew exactly where I was gonna put it. I made it really easy. I knew exactly where I was gonna put that. So if you do this, the fear of how to get started goes away. Because there are definitive things here that are gonna be able to be easily laid in. Right? Easily laid in. And if you think about your how-to cooking projects, and you think about your travel stuff, there are gonna be, always, certain things that will always sit in the same place. So you will always know what to shoot for that one thing. And then at some point, it's gonna become so automatic that you're only gonna have to focus on what changes. Right? That's the beauty of this, because it becomes very repetitive at some point, where then you get to focus on all the other things that make it so much more creative. Repetition, repetition, you get reflex, reflex breeds an environment for creativity. Because now you're not worrying about a button, and a lever, and a knob, you're worrying about the content. Yeah? Cool. So excited you guys. Like, this is just so fun, just seeing you guys light up, it makes me so happy because when we started this class, you guys were so afraid, okay? Not afraid because you couldn't do it, just afraid because you didn't know. And knowledge is so important here.

Class Description

"A tumultuous amount of technique and process info given by Victor in this class. Just wonderful. Well done." - Michael UK

Creating a film or video is a decision-making process from beginning to end. From what type of story you want to create, where to film, how to capture audio, editing your story together - the entire process can be overwhelming and confusing. Victor Ha will make this process attainable by laying out the foundation to set yourself up for success in the planning and pre-production phases. Victor will show you how effective planning can make your shoot and edit faster and easier. Understanding this workflow and adding video to your portfolio can increase your business and expand your creative offerings. In this class, Victor will cover:

  • Pre-production techniques like creating shot lists and shoot schedules 
  • How to use your DSLR to capture video 
  • Capturing the right footage for the edit 
  • How to piece together a rough cut in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 
  • Producing multiple pieces from one shoot 
This class will take you step by step from concept to completion so that you can begin creating films with your clients and friends within 48 hours.

"Love this class! Victor really knows how to break things to simple language so you understand and retain. He also teaches you all the fundamentals before you ever fire up your camera. Victor is Ha-mazing!" - Jerry Suhrstedt