5 Common Storyboarding Mistakes to Avoid

5 Common Storyboarding Mistakes to Avoid

It's sometimes said that you can't become a good storyboard artist just by learning from people with experience. You also need to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. It might be easier however just to read about the most common mistakes people make and make sure you avoid them. That is what this blog is about. Here are the top 5 storyboarding mistakes and how to avoid them.

Storyboarding Without a Script

Graphic representation of a video without a script is basically doodling. It's possible to start storyboarding without a script but it doesn't really serve any useful purpose. The very nature of storyboarding makes it difficult to create one without a script. Having a vision for the video and a rough idea of how the end result should look is no substitute for having a proper script.

You need to know the core message, target audience, call to action, the points you want to make, and the tone and style you want to use. Most importantly, these elements will not help your storyboard unless you stitch them together into a script. A script removes the inconsistencies in the message you want to convey and how it's delivered to the viewers. It combines all the little elements of the video and ensures everything makes sense. 

Having a script ready before storyboarding allows you to divide it into scenes and decide creative aspects like background, music, lighting, etc. It also helps eliminate mistakes and wasted time. The bottom line is that writing a script before a storyboard will lead to a better video. 

Failing to Understand That Storyboarding Is a Collaborative Effort

The best storyboards are a product of collaboration. To create an effective storyboard, you need input from those who are directly involved in the video production. Like the video, the storyboard is a union of many talents. The writer, director, technical staff, animators, and sound engineers ‐ everyone involved with the video should have some input in developing the storyboard. For example, if a particular scene is too complex to illustrate, the writer can help simplify and visualise the scene. The cinematographer could recommend the best camera angles for each scene. Collaboration helps minimise misunderstandings and delays.

Leaving out Crucial Information

Your storyboard should be complete and include all the details needed to tell the story. If you proceed to the next stage with an incomplete storyboard devoid of crucial information, you'll make life more difficult for yourself. For example, if you are creating an explainer video and you only have 1-3 minutes to get your message across, working with a good storyboard is vital to speed up production time. Here are some things that definitely deserve a place in your storyboard:

  • Clear representation of the background in each scene
  • A synopsis of action and text of the speech of each scene
  • Information on music, props, and annotation of each scene

If it's coming from an expert, no instruction or feedback is too small to include. You can later simplify and review your storyboard if you wish. It's better to start off with too much information than too little. Excess clips, sounds, and details can always be removed during post-production. You also have lots of tricks up your sleeve to hold and capture your viewer's attention - for example, there are a lot of Premiere Pro transitions available. Don't overuse these but carefully chosen transitions or visual effects will help set the look and feel of your video

Creating a Storyboard at the Last Minute

This is perhaps the most important. Storyboarding is an essential and indispensable part of video production. It isn't something you fit into your schedule if you have a bit of time before the filming of the video begins. Developing a storyboard shouldn't be rushed. Allow time to visualise the script, follow this up with the initial artwork, seek feedback, make revisions, send it for final appraisal, and finally perfect it. All these steps take time. Sometimes you might need to revise multiple times to perfect the storyboard. You might also need to take days off to generate fresh ideas. Time spent developing a good storyboard is often time saved further down the line. 

Losing Continuity

It might sound obvious but maintaining continuity is one of the basic rules of storyboarding. The characters and their gestures must be in proper positions in every scene. Unless they are removed on purpose, the props need to be represented in every scene. The size of the characters, the objects used, etc need to remain constant throughout the sequence. With a storyboard in hand, the director has a ready template to work on. Storyboards are created so the director doesn't have to visualise each scene before shooting the video. This saves time. But lack of continuity could result in errors during filming, which defeats the whole purpose of developing a storyboard.

Final Thoughts

Storyboarding is an essential part of video production. It doesn't have to be a masterpiece or even aesthetically pleasing. But it needs to be accurate, helpful, and complete. So, learn from the storyboarding mistakes that others have made in the past and avoid them in the future.

by Cristian Stanciu | 27 Sep 23

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