A lot of litter, but not rubbish

There are all sorts of formats for storyboards. Traditionally, those for advertisements read from left to right, then downwards, each shot with the script and stage directions underneath. Simple films often use a two-column design – the shot on the left, remarks, script, etc on the right. A feature film is almost certain to use a separate card for each shot, maybe with lines, etc, on the reverse. The cards will probably be in colour, show ideas for costume and lighting, and contain much more information. Mine are in black and white – simple sketches. Very bad sketches. But they show enough. Three main bits of information:
  • Who or what is in the shot
  • How close the shot is
  • Which way that person is looking or walking (remember crossing the line?)
I’ll try the left to right format.
1. Hands peel banana
2. Man eats and strolls off
3. He walks on
4. Continues to MS, throws away skin
5. ...which falls to ground
6. A lady follows after him
7. As she gets nearer she sees
8. The offending skin
9. Now she notices the man. She calls out.
10. She calls to him
11. He turns
12. And sees her
13. He walks back towards her
14. But his foot meets the skin
15. He drops
16. She moves to him
17. But picks up the skin
18. And deposits it in a bin
19. Shuts the bin lid. Narration: "Don't litter...
20....it's a real headache!"

It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw!

Terrible rough sketches! And nineteen shots – all for thirty seconds or so of story. But the quality of the drawing isn’t relevant. What is important is how little actual work is involved during the filming. For a start, shots 3, 4, 6, 7, 12, and 18 are all the same shot! The camera position for shot 10 is the same as 11, 13 and 15. 5, 8, and 14 are the same. 18 and 19 are continuous. For 1 and 2, the camera needn’t move; just zoom out. Similarly 16 and 19 don’t require the camera to move.

So there are really five ‘set-ups’ for the nineteen shots

I’d probably start with the main action with shot 10 as a ‘master’. 11, 13 and 15 next, to save a camera move. 3 to 16 after that. This shot, and all the other ‘similars’, do as continuous action, not little snippets. Then you’ve got lots of coverage. 17 and 20. 18 and 19, after which the girl can be released. (People don’t like to hang around.) And finish off with shot 2, then 1. Odd, that the first shot on screen is the last to be photographed. But not all that odd. The sequence could stand without shots 1 and 2. So do them last, just in case of rain or whatever. The other one that could be dropped is 20. Not very important.

A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

Doing a storyboard only takes a few minutes – but it can save hours on location, when you’ve got so many other things to worry about.