If you’re a filmmaker, you know that the biggest part of your job is transferring ideas from you mind and putting them on screen. Professionals over the years have learned that it’s much easier to visually communicate ideas, beyond a simple pitch or even words on a script.

Show… don’t tell.

Take a look at these fantastic professional storyboard examples. These verified storyboards were released by the DGA, and they include storyboard examples from Harry Potter, Star Wars, Inception, Gladiator, Jurassic Park, Moulin Rouge, and many other great films.


Storyboards force creative filmmaking

Ever had a great idea for a shot or scene?

Everything is visualized perfectly in your mind, but will your intentions be realized on the screen?

What you need is a storyboard.

Storyboards are what professional filmmakers and production companies use to clearly communicate visual ideas with their team.

Cavemen used storyboards. The Ancient Egyptians used storyboards.

Bottom line:  They work.

And while some of the reasons they work so well may seem painfully obvious, there are more nuanced reasons that many novice (and professional) filmmakers overlook.

You may not have a huge budget, so naturally, you think you’re limited to work with only what is naturally available to you. That line of thinking can be harmful to your project because you’re limiting your creativity, which in turn limits the effectiveness of your vision.

Don’t waste valuable energy thinking about limitations.

Take that energy and storyboard ideas for your scene.

Create Storyboards with StudioBinder

Make sure to spend some time sketching them. You’ll often hear the suggestion to “draw a storyboard with stick figures if you’re not an artist.” 

I strongly disagree.

I think you should take your time drawing an ugly storyboard because then you’re forced to draw an ugly background, an ugly foreground, ugly characters, and thoughtful shot compositions.

Suddenly, new ideas are popping into your head:

You want some special easter egg hidden in the background of a shot.


You want perfect symmetry for a specific point in the story.


You want to do a match cut from one image to another.

These are great cinematic goals, and they’re often the product of storyboarding. Tim Burton and Wes Anderson films come to mind when I think about precise shot composition and unique production design.

They put imagery on the screen that you won’t find anywhere in the existing world. They had their departments build, scout, and piece together a world that, at one point, only existed in their minds.

How do you think they communicated their visions?

They used storyboards.

Check out these movie storyboard examples and see how you can take your dream from your head to the big screen.


1. Alien

Scene: Infirmary Scene

Ridley Scott did not draw stick figures here, and while he probably picked up some pretty slick storyboarding skills when he attended the Royal College of Art, it doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel or that you can’t achieve similar results from following his example.  

Storyboard Examples Aliens

Storyboards by Ridley Scott for Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979)

Note: “Action inside the egg is beautiful.”

Alien — Infirmary Scene

  It’s got a wonderful defense mechanism… molecular acid and storyboards.


2. There Will Be Blood 

Scene: Oil Derrick Scene

The filmmakers are thinking about the background imagery a lot, and that plays o the screen as well. Lots of shot to reverse-shot. 

Storyboard Examples There Will Be Blood

Storyboards by P.K. MacCarthy for Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood (2007).

Note: “How close can we get?”

There Will Be Blood — Oil Derrick Scene

You can abandon your boy, just don’t abandon the storyboard.


3. Jurassic Park

Scene: Raptor Attack Scene

The notes help lead you into each new shot. Multiple slides for a single shot can be used, especially if you plan to linger a bit.

Storyboard Examples Jurassic Park

Storyboards by David Lowery for Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park (2007).

Note: “Foot toward camera and…”

Jurassic Park — Raptor Attack Scene

Ah, ah, ah, you didn’t say the magic word (it’s storyboard).

If you want to see the storyboard process for another academy award winning film, check out our article on How To Master A Storyboard Like Jordan Peele: Get Out, which gives you a step-by-step workflow for creating a storyboard that perfectly communicates your visual goals.

How to Master A Storyboard Like Jordan Peele: Get Out

Storyboards are super helpful not only for communicating goals to others, but analyzing your own decisions as well. You can even see the cuts from one shot to another, and how they play alongside each other.

Filmmaking is all about maximizing your creative output, and storyboards are super helpful for putting you into a creative place, and helping you filter out good ideas and bad ones as well.

Plus, they’re fun mementos that you can show to your family and friends, or even frame them and hang them up on your wall. You’ll thank yourself later for stretching your creativity legs.


4. Moulin Rouge

Scene: Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend

The use of directional arrows helps to keep us oriented. POV shot of Sabine reaching out is one slide that jumps out to me. Close-ups to wide shots.

Storyboard Examples Moulin Rouge

Storyboards by David Russell for Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge (2001).

Baz Luhrmann uses lots of angle changes. The last slide is a low angle shot.

Moulin Rouge — Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend

I’ve arranged a meeting with you and a storyboard… totawwy awone.


5. Transformers

Scene: Blackout’s Rampage

Thoughtful sketches of the production design. See how the artists visualize destruction? Blocking of the confused soldiers is very interesting.

Storyboard Examples Transformers

Storyboards by Ed Natividad for Michael Bay’s Transformers (2007).

Definitely storyboards for a Michael Bay film.

Transformers — Blackout’s Rampage

Autobots; assemble... a storyboard.


6. Inception

Scene: Hallway Fight Scene

How would you draw a rotating room?  The ceiling fan helps you stay oriented. See how the room is drawn the same across multiple slides?

Storyboard Examples Inception

Storyboards by Gabriel Hardman for Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010).

Note: The scene numbers

Inception — Hallway Fight Scene

Never recreate storyboards from your memory… always create new places.


7. Gladiator

Scene: Battle Tigers

Big 180 Degree Rule break at the end. There is a clear chain of events in these storyboards? Intelligent camera placement leads to depth and layers.

Storyboard Examples Gladiator

Storyboards by Sylvain Despretz for Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000)

Cheaper than practicing with real tigers. Less fun though.

Gladiator — Battle Tigers

We’ve got a better chance of survival if we storyboard together.


8. Pacific Rim

Not a lot of wide shots in these storyboards. Going from control room to outside takes careful planning. There is a distinct Japanese/Anime vibe.

Storyboard Examples Pacific Rim

Storyboards by Rob McCallum for Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim (2013).

Very cool how the negative space works as light.

Pacific Rim — Final Monster Battle

We can clear a path… for the storyboard.


9. Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Scene: Mouth of Hell

Parallel action occurs on the same storyboard. More depth with the wider shots. Storyboards are great for any effects-heavy TV show or film.

Storyboard Examples Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Storyboards by Charles Ratteray for Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2003).

You can start to see why Whedon was called on to direct The Avengers


10. Star Wars: A New Hope

A Galaxy Far, Far Away

George Lucas did a storyboard for the title sequence. C3PO looks really different in these. Tougher. Lucas knew how he wanted that final shot.

Storyboard Examples Star Wars A New Hope

Storyboards by George Lucas for Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

A ton of specific visual goals made it to the screen.

That’s No Moon - Star Wars: A New Hope

I am fluent in over six million forms of communication… plus storyboards.


11. Spider-Man 2

Scene: Train Battle

This storyboard looks like a comic book…Spidey is losing, then winning. Lots of directional arrows.

Storyboard Examples Spiderman 2

Storyboards by Chris Buchinsky for Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 (2004).

We need at least three more Spider-Man reboots!

Spider-Man 2 — Train Battle

Pithy puns and Spider-Man just... don’t go together. Spin some storyboards.


12. Forrest Gump

Scene: Meet President Johnson

Zemeckis combined custom footage with old newsreel footage. The choice t cover the scene in close-ups helps you shroud any inconsistencies.

Storyboard Examples Forrest Gump

Storyboards by Chris Bonura for Robert Zemeckis’ Forrest Gump (1994).

How are comedic storyboard samples different?

Forrest Gump — Meet President Johnson

Storyboards are the fruit of the sea.


13. Tomorrow Never Dies

Scene: Banner Escape

You should always storyboard stunts for extra safety. It will help your coordinators too. Wardrobe decided to change both costumes.

Storyboard Examples Tomorrow Never Dies

Storyboards by Martin Asbury for Roger Spottiswoode's Tomorrow Never Dies (1997).

Defacing the villain is a nice touch in the script.

Tomorrow Never Dies — Banner Escape

The name’s Board… Storyboard.


14. Raiders of the Lost Ark

Scene: The Opening of the Ark

How does the color help tell the story, or communicate goals? Great use of shading. Do you think this storyboard helped them light the scene?

Storyboard Examples Raiders of Lost Ark

Storyboards by Ed Verreaux for Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).

What’s different in the actual scene?

Raiders of the Lost Ark — The Opening of the Ark

Storyboards… why’d it have to be storyboards?


15. Psycho

Scene: Trouble in the Shower

Knife shot is exactly the same in the film. Look at the intended close-up of her mouth when she’s stabbed. Sex, comfort, and murder collide.  

Storyboard Examples Psycho

Storyboards for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960).

Happy face in the first few slides. Huge tonal shift in this scene.

Psycho — Trouble in the Shower

A boy’s best friend is his storyboard.


16. The Order of the Phoenix

Scene: Battle at the Department of Mysteries

Directional arrows help keep us organized. High Angle shot when they enter the Department. Slide two illustrates confusion.

Storyboard Examples The Order of Pheonix

Storyboards by Jim Cornish for David Yates’ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007).

Notice how it’s a point of view shot when Harry casts a spell.

Battle at the Department of Mysteries — Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I must not tell lies… I must make storyboards.


17. Gone with the Wind

Scene: Fleeing Atlanta

Did the colors in the storyboard help for the lighting schemes later on set? Shot notes help us understand the action. Lots of depth in slide three.

Storyboard Examples Gone With the Wind

Storyboards by William Cameron Menzies for Victor Fleming’s Gone With the Wind (1939).

Big wide end slide shows how you can vary your slide size.

Gone With the Wind — Fleeing Atlanta

As god as my witness… I’ll never not storyboard again.


18. Apocalypse Now

Scene: Ride of the Valkyries

The focus seems to be how to shoot the air cavalry. Notice the carnage behind Col. Kilgore. Do these helicopters look heroic? Evil? Neutral?

Storyboard Examples Apocalypse Now

Storyboards by Alex Tavoularis for Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979).

Storyboards help when you have limited time up in a helicopter.

Apocalypse Now — Ride of the Valkyries

I love the smell of storyboards in the morning… they smell like... victory.


19. Ali

Scene: Muhammad Ali vs. Ernie Terrell

Directional arrows show where punches come from. Important to replicate actual fight. Big wide establishing shot of arena creates scope.

Storyboard Examples Ali

Storyboards by Tim Burgard for Michael Mann’s Ali (2001).

How well do they follow the 180-degree rule?

Ali — Muhammad Ali vs. Ernie Terrell

Float like a butterfly, sting like a storyboard.


20. The Sound of Music

Scene: Do-Re-Mi

Lots of symmetry in these shots. A ton of complicated choreography. Great depth in many of the slides due to creative blocking.

Storyboard Examples Sound of Music

Storyboards by Maurice Zuberano for Robert Wise’s The Sound of Music (1965).

There is a fantasy element to how much ground they cover.

The Sound of Music — Do-Re-Mi

When the Lord closes a door, somewhere, he draws a storyboard.


21. Spartacus

Scene: Battle Plans

How many battle scenes took cues from Spartacus? Slide dedicated to arrows mid-flight. Lots of color in these is storyboard samples.

Storyboard Examples Spartacus

Storyboards by Saul Bass for Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus (1960).

Interesting composition and angle choice.

Spartacus Trailer

I’m storyboard! No, I’m storyboard! No... I’m storyboard!


22. West Side Story

Scene: When You’re a Jet

Notice the map slide? See how the big street signs were imagined here. What does the detour sign pointing in the opposite direction say to you?

Storyboard Examples West Side Story

Storyboards by Saul Bass for Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story (1961).

Simple but still super intricate.

West Side Story — When You’re A Jet

When you’re a storyboard, you’re a storyboard all the way...


23. The Towering Inferno

Scene: Elevator Rescue Scene

Lots of high angles in this storyboard. How good is the smoke continuity? Big action scenes need a lot of planning.  

Storyboard Examples The Towering Inferno

 Storyboards by Joseph Musso for John Guillermin’s The Towering Inferno (1974).

This is a scene with stunts, special effects, and a difficult location.

The Towering Inferno — Elevator Rescue Scene

Can you get me a chopper with a winch and a storyboard?


Create the perfect storyboard

When you study professional storyboards like these, you quickly begin to understand how much effort goes into the planning stages of a great film.

Successful projects use the pre-production phase to the fullest. When you create a tangible plan for your production, you will limit possible miscommunications, and maximize creative output from your team.

If you use storyboarding software like StudioBinder, you can show how each scene will play out, and keep your entire plan organized in a single digitally accessible place.

Music Video Storyboard with StudioBinder

Your entire production team can collaborate from anywhere at anytime. Instead of wasting hours playing phone tag with assistants or scheduling late night conference calls because of time zone differences.


How To Master A Storyboard Like Jordan Peele: Get Out

Now that you’ve seen some of the greatest storyboards of all time, you can begin to storyboard your own projects like an Academy Award Winner.

Check out our blog post, How To Master A Storyboard Like Jordan Peele: Get Out, which gives you a step-by-step workflow for creating a storyboard that perfectly communicates your visual goals.

Have questions? Let us know in the comments below!

How To Master A Storyboard Like Jordan Peele: Get Out →

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