Storyboarding Your Film


Lesson Info


So we started to go in this a little bit um you know, uh there's different schools of thought in writing scripts one of the kind of big no nos is to put too much camera direction in the script if you're working on your own projects it's a little you know it's not as much of a no no because you know whatever you're going to do it, you're not going to offend a guy who's like I know one he used to close up there and you know it says so in the script but it's important to you know those those terms that we outlined in that most basic way in the in the kind of like fundamentals like your you're wide shots you're establishing shot your medium shots you're close ups your extreme close ups like what they are and when to use them I like that personally I like starting scenes with details like like your traditional ways like okay uh you know you're uh you're starting a scene okay? Well, here's your establishing shot of your house um, you know, here it is the house I don't know why they were wind...

ow right above their door, but that's that's the bad architect so you've got that you've got a little drift in, all right? We're drifting in on a house there's little music's thing coming intent on that uh establishing shot right and then maybe you go into like a secondary establishing shot of your living room with your couch and you're staircase in the background and your guy sitting on the couch and your other character standing back here uh looking at their phone right that's your next shot and then you're cutting back and forth between the guy looking at his own and the guy sitting on the couch here who's like why are you spending time looking at your phone instead of talking to me? You know these airways to approach a scene but then you know, uh, another way, you know it's like, ok, this is it this way you have your establishing, then you have your like, interior wide, then you've got, you know, here's like kind of medium shots and then maybe you do go into close up for this guy who's like mugging it up, you're not paying attention to me, you know, for whatever that's like a kind of standard way to approach a scene, but maybe, you know, if you want to start with a detail, maybe here is like your approach a right over here, the language of film self maybe you're going in it's like, now that you understand the language you're like, kate, you know how I want to get in this scene extreme close up of his phone you know you see him going take it take it take it take it take it maybe he's like is one of these guys is like the rapid fire guy who's like they're gonna get it get it get it get it get texting back and forth you see little text things and then you go to extreme close up of angry guy like hey and but you don't really know what's going on then you go to your interior why than u c o couch guy once in the sit next to him on the couch and this guy spending too much time on his phone and you've kind of gotten and do it in a character way these are the decisions that you make when you're storyboarding all right helps you figure out like how do you want to do? Is it more important to know that they're in the house there's a more important to see that this guy's texting more important to establish their relationship of the spatial uh you know where they are in the room or is it more important to establish that this guy's angry er do you want a mystery? What is happening? Why are we starting on a phone? Why is this guy angry? Oh that's why maybe that's a surprising thing maybe that's more satisfying or maybe that's not as clear and you just want to go for clarity and the more you understand this language of film that the more you have the tools to make these decisions uh you have anything to add to that I mean, I think he did a great job but like I think and this sounds very basic but it's just again good no language like if if you were starting this and it would be scary you might have a shot another shot of the house that shuren lightning strikes and then you know, he's texting in the dark yeah, I'm afraid and then and then you know what the guy is uh he's got got this year and he's like was scare lee like under lit by the phone like what's that you know, that says a totally different thing if it's like he's in the dark and there's a shaft of light and I don't know that he's got like, crazy blue cast of things that sets a totally different tone yeah, I mean some and again that's all that that language you know you're using the normal elements that sounds so funny to talk with us, but you don't think of it when you're doing it, but you know, the decisions you're making are important because yeah, that's I mean, you know, get the lightning low angle of house, you know, if you're low and that's lighting when it's dark and scary is away different tone than like you know there's like tent invented ended and when you're jerking in our house you know you go that's a house you can't tell your house is better is a shadow of a guy you look that's a shadow of a guy yeah who's that guy but nobody knows and then then you could make a decision if you're cutting in on that you know you cut in on this guy is that the guy who was in the window no you pan over it's this other guy he's he was the guy in the window who knows what the story is we're trying to tell we're making it up as we go along but maybe you have a script you're going from the defense which is another way to do it which is the more standard way to do it but anyway let's talk about the kind of like stages of the storyboard writes if you conceptualize your script you know what you're seeing is gonna be you've written it on a in script form you got words on pieces of paper pretty happy with the future screen you're happy enough with it you know get on the next stage you're you're like ok it's a it's either approved by your client or if there's no client you like it or whatever for some reason you're like this script is finished I'm going to go to storyboarding in the first stage of this storyboarding is the thumb natalie and the kind of like entomology of the word some now it's basically based on drawing something quickly and very small because the bigger job and more pencil mileage it takes so you wantto do your thumbnails literally like the size of a thumbnail if you thumb now stuff out like this big then you know you never you can't draw a lot of detail and something that big it's so small so if you're like close up god like this and a wide shot like that establishing shot of a house I always tell my guys like film it out as basic as possible I know how to read a film now I know what this stuff means I know that this is this and this is that and this is the bottom of a car whatever and you can always just right house under there if it's unclear and I think that's a really good approach and what I like to do when I filmed a lot of scrutiny get a script like this right? And I'm not going to use this as an example later another one but you know if you film now stuff on the script with little boxes like this and imagine I'm drawing things like that on those boxes it's really good quick and dirty way to get started and not to be too precious about stuff like we talked about earlier when I hand out scripts is a director of a storyboard artists you know if they've got time I don't know how much we covered this you know it's like film it all out in the day man just get it out there I think we touched upon this earlier and the quicker your first passes on this you know, the better it is because you get your first thing you think of out of the way and then you could spend your time finessing it instead of drawing your first passed really detailed and then there's no time to go in and and and, you know, come up with new ideas and even you could you could have alternate ideas like maybe we'll get into it this way maybe we'll get into it that way maybe we'll start on the established in the house maybe we'll start on the close up of the phone you know who knows what it's gonna be but when you get into the you know you do these these thumbnails it just forces you do not spend too much time on it, you know and you can do the most basic, you know, the most basic compositions you don't uh get into the like that the you don't get distracted by details you don't have to worry about, you know, things that air unnecessary to the scene, they try to just establish the most like clear way to depict something this simply is possible that's what I think at least what you thinking about thumbnails I think the same thing I was going to do this later sure but I I mean I just while you were talking if you look at this thing like whenever I get a script or my own I'll do the same thing I'll go somewhere I do it on the subway a lot okay I feel like we're in the subway you're all the same but I'll just go through and just start sketching and you know I don't know you know just when he was talking like already comes in drops the keys down I usually put a little number something next to the thing is matt arrives home his dark apartment you know, the only thing on is a few lights where he drops the keys I just go through and hit the big beats on I'll do it for the whole page and I know that this might you know not using you know he drops his coat he sits in the chair his face is barely recognizable and you just start getting them down yeah and then later you'll go back and don't jump the gun but you'll yeah you know go through as fast as you can just get it down the shots you want and then you'll go back and kind of start um uh finessing it or going okay maybe this would be better this angle you don't worry too much about posing you don't worry too much about acting you don't worry about like too much about camera moves maybe you think there's a camera wherever it maybe you don't have to illustrate it as much so if you have here your film nails here which are essentially you know if you think about you know somebody's dumb bets were talking about some nails and then uh or thumbs as we call them and more like the homes yeah, you know the uh you know, that's the first step and then when you move into your rough storyboards, you know, you get into the into like figuring it out like the process that I think is pretty common with like, you know, directors and board artists is like, you have some kind of hand up right like let's say you're the director and you're working with one or two other storyboard artists you sit there with the script and you go over it would be like, ok, uh this is what I'm picture in here we start, you know, the department's dark whatever is some light coming in through the window that's illuminating something, whatever you know you have whatever ideas you wantto impart to your storyboard ours and I find that's like an essential part of like talking, communicating so good in any kind of collaborative former, I think is good just to communicate as much as possible with people and ask questions or tell people if if anything's unclear. So you talked to your board artists about what you envision and then you you asked them to film, nail it out, and then you'll go for the thumbnails and you won't want to do that pretty quick in a day or two, I think, yeah, I was one thing I would have to tell them is I'm always like, don't sit there and noodle with your thumb just sum it out and come back and see me and they were gonna go through all this is great let's can this this and this may be these we could I think we could do this and we'll start talking and yeah, and we always called with something like it's, not like it's in my head and I'll be like, um, about this but I know what can we do? And maybe here she'll say, you know, oh, we could do it like this well, that's, that's great do that and you know you leads to new ideas and stuff to you keep it as loose is possible this is like this catch this is the first stage, you know, it's the idea of the germ of the idea so then once you kind of go over the film now move on his part that I find to be the most fun because you're coming up with all this yeah it's wide open you're not locked in you know the further the further you get down the path of making any kind of project like this film or a tv show where animated thing or whatever it is it's like the harder it is to change once you've made decisions it's harder to double back and changed stuff especially if you're on a schedule on budget you know it's like well, you know we'd love to redo this episode but it's due a certain time and he's got to be done so sorry you know there's some producer who's going to tell you you gotta get it done and you know so this is the time to really play around and have fun and make all your changes and explore try a bunch of different things and that's that's the thing too you can when you're film nailing out like this look maybe it's like this maybe it's like that maybe it's like this maybe it's like that and the one thing I have talked about with my board artists is like if you're filming out a sequence and you're drawing if I'm now small like this and it can't fit on a page you're bored into heavy your it's like you've you're overthinking it you've you've done too much work or sometimes it's a problem with the script like a lot of action shows if it's not like that to be boarded thing if it's like uh and then they get in the car and they chase and then all this crazy stuff happens then it's more of a problem with the script because there's a certain amount of mathematics of like you know you know okay generally a you know a quarter hour show script is going to be about this many pages a half hour show script is going about this many pages of fees your script's gonna be about this many pages and our drama is going to be about this many pages and sometimes writers in order to get their scripted proved and get their page countdown will trump key something that really should be a page and they'll make it like three lines and then if I find uh this is going to take a lot more panels than this three lives and that's a problem with the script and something's going to have to get cut which is a good it's good to identify uh cuts at the thumbnail stage rather than way down the line when you get to your automatic which we're going to go over later and it's like our automatic is five minutes long after everybody's putting all this work it's really good to identify that stuff early I think so do you? I didn't fall out of cuts when you're filming or do you just go go for it sometimes hard kind of cuts at that stage two you know I planned cuts yeah you are do you ever find yourself coming out and you're like fudge this script is too long I know it in my heart of hearts yeah usually yeah I mean, I usually I try to just get through I try to get through it and then go back and really analyze it because because again it's that thing where I could you could sit there forever and again it's a great the reason I was stressed people don't be be be messy and little and don't be precious because you know you tried a couple of angles all that's it you you'll know when stuff sticks because it feels right yeah and you want to see the parts that giving you problems and sometimes sometimes is apart giving you a lot of problems when I can I get this what is wrong and then you're like it's just too complicated yeah, and again you can change it you can exactly where you could have a that's where things that you know it depends on the tone off what you're making I mean if it's a it's, a comedy or a cartoon it's like you just really wanted to be funny and you know you need to move the story along, but you hate to cut funny jokes to serve this story that's one of the big mistakes and I think people make it's like oh, in the comedy that I think the story is secondary did jokes and two character stuff but for drama or something you know, a movie maybe story is first and it's like how we have to make sure we keep this story that joke is inconsequential, you know? I mean there's there's some super jail scripts where if you really analyze it you're like what happened with this thing and then you're like it's so fast and just joke joke, joke, joke more of a gag driven show yeah, not like a really complicated plot we'll dialogue show with with a quarter hour show too you find like you don't want a lot of story and your your audience member doesn't get is invested in the story she kind of you kind of throw your premise out for a joke you can end on a joke that doesn't even have anything to do with the story if it's funny enough, you know? So such other things do you work out where from now ing right it's not like breaking bad or something? We're next week exactly back to the same story line you know I mean a lot of those shows that we work on you'll end on a joke that kind of is counter to the siri's premise of character might die or something they're back in the next episode and it just doesn't matter because it's that's not the tone of the show I think tony tony is a good thing to talk about I think it is you know to get back to this story part of storyboarding like you want to know like you know your genre on like what you know like even to the point of like is it scary is their lightning is it under lit but we're getting into it that way is it funny? Is it bright and happy and silly you know those are things that work out and in your film nails to know film nails so then you got your thumbnails right let's say you found out your whole page or whatever your whole script but for our purposes let's say it's this page and we get to you you either you're the director working with some storyboard artist here the story where I was working with the director and and ultimately you're you're sitting around your all that say it's a comedy for our purposes you're all sitting around laugh and you know like this is making us laugh all right let's let's all right let's rough let's go to the roof boards you know and then you're talking about drawing essentially putting more information in the panels so you know if it's like you know you're starting to work it out more where this guy is like you know he's sitting here and he's like maybe he's you know, part of the story is he's holding a coffee mug or something he's got a he's got a hold this mug because there's hot coffee in there and, uh you know he's happy so he's got a smile because he's about to drink that coffee you know, and seattle hot coffee? Yeah, exactly you guys love he has loved so do you think is in that thing and maybe he's got it? Maybe he's got a beard it's got a beard and he's drinking coffee because he couldn't see at all right there you go. So then you know something that you may not have worked out with all the acting and stuff it's like oh, in this you know, in the next panel he's drinking the coffee right? So now you got to see him dragging that he's looking down into the coffee because he's drinking it all right he's just moved his arm appear I'm not going to spend a ton of time making these really good, but imagine they're really awesome drawings even the rough drawings khun b loose like this, right? And then what ends up happening is, uh a man when he takes his coffee mug away he totally spilled coffee all over his beard and it's dripping down and now he's concerned is he he's like uh so when you're also doing this you're figuring out like let's say that the story is uh I need energy for my date he's about to go on right and then these like slurred delicious you know he's like a little arrows are good things to do and so we were stupid to indicate in the least like oh no now my beard smells like coffee how embarrassing and that's something you've worked out you know, a little bit more um think I spelled embarrassing wrong than a thumb now your thumbnail might just be this right you know and that's all you need but then this has worked out a little bit more and then in this version the date fairy came out this is I'll help you that's great so we've got, you know, one a one b but when you're in a room like this one gets like this, you'll just be making stuff this is really how it works yeah you're just it's I mean it's the funnest job ever but you are at a point when your room trying to break a story really what happens things like you know a guy comes out of the cover that's what happens and yeah that's funny like then you just like it goes back and forth and they become friends exactly how it works yeah, we're just like, uh like two weekends ago I was playing dungeons and dragons with couple animation guys and penn this next to me and he's trying to make me laugh he's doing little panels he's doing little company, hands it back and then you do it and you're just trying to make the other guy so you're like e you hand it back and then it's like that that's exactly how these board rooms work story board rooms, not board rooms like a corporate boardroom, storyboard rooms work it's like, you know you're trying to get to a gag and like this, right date ferry let's say in this day, ferry wasn't in the script, but that's where you ended up because as you're evolving the story, you know, with story board, right that's, like seven hundred times, right? Thie the e figure out fun stuff um, you know, and it's maybe in this character that he is embarrassed and worried, you know, he's he's unsure of himself, he thinks he needs coffee too performance on the day he didn't really need it and see here's what the date very says we're going to cut to another shot and the date fairy is like she's like you never needed the coffee it was in you all along you know anyway that's what that's what she would say to him so and you work it out and then the board you expand upon your film nails you do more poses to clarify the action if it's comedy you try to make it funnier even if it's is horror another's andrea try to make it scarier it's a drama you try to make it more intense or another shot there is that it there's other ones to imagine if it's ah imagine if you have to get into the time which is something that happens after the storyboard aziz, you get into the automatics which is sometimes you know for animation it's a little different uh there's kind of two main there's a lot of ways but I busted into like two main ways that you would approach storyboarding one is, uh storyboarding first and then recording the voices. The other one is recording the voices from the script and the storyboarding from that. Now if you have a highly visual show with super jail did you record for starting you board first? You needed both the kind of both that example because you know some shows if they're like like one of the shows we're going to get into china illinois which is an adult swim show we make definitely record first because so much of acting so much of it is driven by the performance there's improv and stuff that that might not be in the page they're subtle performance nuance that night might not be in the page that really informs the board artists and how how they pose the characters you know it's like hey you know when baby cakes said this line he sounded happy I'm going to draw him smiling as opposed to you know oh and eight have been way different, you know sometimes like turbo, which is a kids show we do for netflix the uh you know, we board before the record and sometimes they'll be like big crazy expression on somebody and you'll get the record you're going to anna matic and we'll make it no it's like we got to tone that down that expression because it doesn't match the way the guy read it or sometimes you're like, but we've got to pick up that line because that's a really funny thing that that guy screaming at him yet the record is not screaming, so the automatic is a pretty important part of the anna animation process because it really is something you know, when I first started directing my first like episode directing was on daria and this was the technology that we used if you can believe it was crazy had an audio cassette with one of those old like like like tape decks with buttons and I'd sit there you'd listen you have headphones on he had the audio track and you have the storyboard and you press like you press play and you'd listen and then you know, when they do something you had a little stopwatch each I'd like time how long you thought inaction would be seen like act out like all right there's a guy raising his arm and he's like hit the stop watching me like, ok, that took a second and a half I'm going to put that you use this thing called exposure sheets and whatever because you've just called get shipped to creates complicated process and the indo aromatics because you don't have computers and you know we're going to shoot all the storyboards on film it would have been too expensive and too time consuming result in your imagination, but now we've got an automatic switch, your awesome right super jail man imagine how hard that show would be make without automatic I mean, it would be seen I mean, like you could do it yourself like with like, space war something like, well, that was you you're just doing it, but if you had to communicate that to a crew of people impossible right without an automatic, how you going to do it so sweet? So basically let me take a step back into what in an automatic is if people don't know so the automatic is when you take all your storyboard panels and you put him on a time line and you know, whatever editing software you're using, uh, you know, with an audio track of some sort might be dialogue if you know if it's a dialogue driven show, it might be music or sound effects and music video or something other kind of short film, it might even be like a scratch track like let's say you're shooting a live action film, you're shooting an action sequence and you know you're not going to bring your actors into scream or like do do whatever dialogue get to the got to get to the tower whatever you just do that usb might can and you put it all together and it's a great way to see if something's working before you get out into the real world and shoot something he'll be like case, do we need really need to have this car drive off this cliff there's better if you explode, maybe it's better if it drives up in into the tower, jumps off the top of the tower, explodes in the middle of the air and figure out that stuff before you go out there right automatics? What do you have? What do you think about automatics? I love him because basically I mean real simple ways again, you're taking off all these you know, refine the actual board and your timing it out, timing it out to either rough track, really track or it's a music video to the music when I do even the fight scenes that don't have any that I like to use, I use a click track because, like in the old warner brothers or disney cartoons, they would they would these exposure sheets, christmas songs they would when you see that stuff it's very rhythmic because it would go with the music so the guy's walking because the name for it like a it was a sixteenth whatever there's different kinds of walks were like it's on eighths or sixteenths is certain things where guys like weapon and, you know, walking down the street it's in sync with the music, but it gives it a rhythm and I use like a I got a lot going on at your home yeah, I cut on a rhythm some people don't like to work like that, but I love to work like that because it gives it this weird I don't think is much you're like bread winners is like that too breadwinners this is bought into it I find it gives it a real turnoff when you watch it, but it gives it this weird rhythm yeah that's a really card to anything but anyways, yeah, with the enigmatic you putting this stuff in motion and you're seeing it like a moving comic or whatever it is the simplest form of animation but you're still making it you're still making it you might watch your automatic go oh that's that's not as funny as I thought it was gonna be and you're figuring out the timing and that's important for tv specifically because you know you're like came in you've got eleven minutes and they were talking about cutting here sometimes is good as you think you are figuring out how long something is when you get this adam attic you really know you and we get a kind of minute out of this I had no idea that this was a minute long and then you have to try and figure out what your cuts are it's a really useful tool when I was really an experience in the beginning I would do a lot of stuff like what we're figuring out the pace you know the pace is another thing like tone like now every show is a different pace things getting faster but some shows a real fast and I remember we would I would always bored like them leaving the room during the room and I would do these things were like logically well they've got to get in the room or leave the room but it's like it's a matter if you see them leave their over out of the room and that's one of those language of phyllis things where they say it starts the scene as late as you can possibly start it and end it is soon as you possibly can, like actually a perfect example for a bad example. It's kind of like known is that movie the room may familiar with that movie the room and it's, like every scene, starts with like characters coming in to the scene saying hi, introducing themselves and they've seen that everyone ends with them. Okay, we'll leave now. See you later. Really? But kind of awesome, in a way, that's like it's, kind of really entertaining film for the wrong reasons, but but, yeah, I remember really early on just like seeing where you can trim the fat to just keep the best stuff. Keep the jokes, keep the keep this story beats. You don't need little details like that. I mean, sometimes you might want to leave. The guys really listless that he's staring out the window. It nothing. You have a shot of the clouds, that's, that's something if you tell the story. But, uh, but, uh, the timing is something that the automatic is is such a good tool for, and I feel like, uh, you know, like, like, students have way, that our timing then they did when I was in school because you can have a more real time feedback with computers and so we used to be like you draw and then you'd like shoot pencil tests and took so long and you didn't know how long something was gonna be like uh and I don't want to redo it or whatever where's now when you're working you can kind of get immediate feedback and I think what the automatic helps with a lot is what I like to call the clock like in like when discussing like people's like skill sets as maybe a teacher or a director is an artist you know sometimes we'll talk about different you know when you're a director and you're working with different artists you know you have to you know classified like sometimes you cast scenes to a certain story boroughs this guy's great it action this guy's really good draftsman so we need this to meet your on really well this guy's really funny needs have leading gags and something you know to like and old school terms used to be like your hand and you're out of your hand to referred to like your draftsmanship it's like this guy has a really good hand you know where this guy has a really good eye you know he had a good ideas or good you know like wood, you know have a good composition but the kind of a term that I added, that is, the clock is like, well, that guy's a good clock, because his timing is so on point, and it sounds, it sounds weird, but like, like, I think, a fill in the thought, I had a really hard time finding people when we get because our boards, we goto aromatic, pretty early on, but I need people that not only can draw that they can get the timing when they get it. It's, like it's, really good, yeah, it's, a really hard thing, tio teach. You know, timing is one of the harder things, like the hand is the easiest thing to develop. Its just the more you do it, the better your draftsmanship gets, you know, in the eyes a little bit harder, but even experience gets you there.

Class Description

An inability to draw doesn't make storyboarding obsolete – no matter how simplistic and basic your stick figures are, you can still use storyboards as a guiding blueprint for your production. In Storyboarding Your Film, Chris Prynoski will show you how to develop simple, effective storyboards which allow you to tackle all kinds of filmmaking challenges.

Chris has used storyboards to develop his best-known works including, Metalocalypse, Freaknik: The Musical, and Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja. In this class, he’ll teach you how to use the basic tool of storyboarding to deconstruct a scene or sequence and how to implement the storyboard as a useful aid for both camera and crew. You’ll learn:

  • Which projects to storyboard
  • Alternative uses and mediums for storyboarding
  • Optimal tools and instruments for storyboard creation
  • How storyboards serve filmmakers

Chris and special-guest instructor, Christy Karacas (director of Adult Swim's Superjail!) will share both original and pre-existing storyboard examples to help ensure your own boards advance your project and act as a useful guide for other key collaborators. You’ll learn simple approaches that will make the creation of storyboards less intimidating and more inspiring.

If you are ready to incorporate more advanced techniques into your filmmaking, Storyboarding Your Film with Chris Prynoski will guarantee your next project is more polished, prepared, and cinematic.