When some people hear the word “storyboard,” they think “that’s not for me.” Storyboards have a reputation for being hard to make, but that doesn’t have to be the case. To make a storyboard, all you need is paper and a pencil (or a computer), and an idea. Today, we’re going to show you how storyboard ideas can inspire your next project. By the end, you’ll be ready to get to work!
Short Storyboard Ideas
Storyboard ideas for action scenes
When you think of action scenes, what word comes to mind? Fight? Play? Chase? Exactly, and what do these three words have in common? Motion.
One of the most common ways to designate motion is with storyboard arrows.
Motion is at the center of every great action scene. But how do we storyboard motion when there’s no motion to convey? Well, we get creative. Artist Gabriel Hardman used arrows to communicate motion in The Dark Knight storyboards. Check it out below.
This next video from Glass Distortion shows us how Gabriel Hardman’s storyboards guided Christopher Nolan’s direction in The Dark Knight.
Don’t get hung up on the intricacies of the drawing. Just make sure to show us what objects are in motion and where they are going. And remember: you can use arrows to storyboard camera movement as well.
Dialogue Storyboarding Ideas
Storyboard ideas for suspense scenes
Some of the best scenes use stillness in motion’s stead. In our video on Casino Royale’s poker scenes, we break down Martin Campbell’s shots from beginning to end.
There are 85 shots in the first Casino Royale poker scene. Needless to say, that’s a lot. If you were storyboarding the scene, you wouldn’t need to storyboard every shot! You could, but you certainly wouldn’t need to.
Below is an example we made using StudioBinder's storyboard creator. Click the image to see the full storyboard.
So, if you were storyboarding a poker scene – naturally suited to dialogue – what would you do? Well, you might draw an establishing shot to show us where we are (note* this is only important when moving between locations).
Next, a master shot.
A master shot is a continuous shot that captures an entire scene from an angle in which the principal action is always in the frame.
One could argue that the master shot is the only thing you need to storyboard, but in reality, that’s usually not the case. My advice? Stick to the Hollywood standard coverage: master, medium, close-up, over-the-shoulder.
The first poker scene in Casino Royale is shot in textbook Hollywood coverage.
Here’s a medium shot:
The medium shot shows Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) from a notable distance.
Here’s a close-up:
The close-up brings us closer to James Bond (Daniel Craig).
And finally, the over-the-shoulder shot puts our primary subjects in the same frame. By isolating both of our main subjects, we can focus our attention on them alone. Everyone else in the room ceases to matter in this moment.
So, when you’re storyboarding a scene, remember to draw a master shot, medium shot, close-up, and over-the-shoulder shot. Of course, you can do a lot more – but just make sure to cover the basics.
Ideas for a Storyboard
Storyboard ideas for a precise vision
Some artists, like Bong Joon-ho for example, visualize every aspect of their production before arriving on set. Joon-ho created a shot-for-shot storyboard for his film Parasite, and fortunately for us, it’s available to read in book form.
Here’s a snippet from Parasite: A Graphic Novel in Storyboards:
Joon-ho effectively wrote a screenplay in the margins of his storyboards. That’s insane. If you’re more of a visual storyteller, consider storyboarding your scenes with dialogue and descriptions in the margins.
For more on Joon-ho’s incredible Parasite storyboards, check out this video from Thomas Flight.
Writing a screenplay is a tactical task; oftentimes, more about technical skill than creative skill. That’s why I encourage anybody interested in making movies to experiment with alternative ways to tell their story. Why not draw storyboards with dialogue and descriptions in the margins?
At some point, the information will have to be translated into script format, but why worry about that at the creative stage of production?
Easy Storyboard Ideas
Storyboard ideas, from the experts
Storyboarding isn’t easy. In fact, it can be the hardest part of a creative production. Why? Simply because it’s where ideas are put to the test; something may sound good in theory, but stink in practice.
Check out our video on brainstorming techniques to see how the professionals tackle creative and technical challenges in storyboarding.
Storyboards are used from classrooms to boardrooms to film sets; which means they’re just about everywhere.
Here at StudioBinder, we were lucky enough to have director Jay Roach walk us through the opening scene of the Austin Powers in Goldmember opening scene with storyboards.
If you haven’t seen the video before, seriously check it out!
Roach prefaces the breakdown by saying, “I thought it would be a good idea to talk about this scene because it’s such a good exercise in pure preparation,” and he couldn’t be more right.
The opening scene of Goldmember is insane. Like, so insane you might think it’d be impossible to make. But through careful planning and storyboarding, Roach and the team accomplished the impossible.
How to Make a Storyboard: Step by Step
Ready to make your own storyboard? Up next we break down how to make a storyboard with examples from Birdman, Star Wars, and more. By the end, you’ll know how to make a storyboard – oh, and there’s even a free template to get you started!