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Storyboards are a series of illustrations displayed in sequence for the purpose of pre-visualizing an animated or live-action film. A storyboard is essentially a large comic of the film or some section of the film produced beforehand to help the directors and cinematographers visualize the scenes and find potential problems before they occur. Often storyboards include arrows or instructions that indicate movement.


The storyboarding process, in the form it is known today, was developed at the Walt Disney studio during the early 1930s, after several years of similar processes being in use at Disney and other animation studios. Storyboarding became popular in live-action film production during the early 1940s.

In creating a motion picture with any degree of fidelity to a script, a storyboard provides a visual layout of events as they are to be seen through the camera lens. In the storyboarding process, most technical details involved in crafting a film can be efficiently described either in picture, or in corollary notation.

Some live-action directors, such as Joel and Ethan Coen, storyboard extensively before taking the pitch to their funders, stating that it helps them get the figure they are looking for since they can show exactly where the money will be used. Other directors storyboard only certain scenes, or not at all. Animation directors are usually required to storyboard extensively, sometimes in place of doing a script.


In animation and special effects work, the storyboarding stage may be followed by simplified mock-ups called "animations" to give a better idea of how the scene will look with motion. At its simplest, an animation is a series of still images edited together and displayed in sequence. More commonly, a rough dialogue or sound track is added to the sequence of still images (usually taken from a storyboard) to test whether the sound and images are working well together.

This allows the animators and directors to work out any screenplay and timing issues that may exist with the current storyboard. The storyboard and soundtrack are amended if necessary, and a new animation may be created and reviewed with the director until the storyboard is perfected. Editing the film at the animation stage prevents the animation of scenes that would be edited out of the film; as animation is a very expensive process, there can be very few "deleted scenes" if the film is to be completed under budget.

Often storyboards are animated with simple zooms and pans to simulate camera movement (using software such as Final Cut Pro). These animations can be combined with available anima tics, sound effects and dialog to create a presentation of how a film could be shot and cut together. Examples of these exist on the DVD special features for several feature films.

Benefits of the process

Storyboards were adapted from the film industry to business, purportedly by Howard Hughes of Hughes Aircraft. Today they are used by industry for planning ad campaigns, commercials, a proposal or other projects intended to convince or compel to action.

A "Quality storyboard" is a tool to help facilitate the introduction of a quality improvement process into an organization.

One advantage of using storyboards is that it allows (in film and business) the user to toy with changes in the storyline to evoke stronger reaction or interest. Flashbacks, for instance, are often the result of sorting storyboards out of chronological order to help build suspense and interest.

Storyboards are used to brainstorm and capture all the ideas before taking action. The process of visual thinking and planning allows a group of people to brainstorm together, placing their ideas on storyboards and then arranging the storyboards on the wall. This fosters more ideas and generates consensus inside the group.

storyboards, storyboard artists, what is a storyboard