WORKPRINT STUDIOS BLOG POST #30 - Storyboarding in Film

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WORKPRINT STUDIOS BLOG POST #30 - Storyboarding in Film

Storyboard Composition in the Filmmaking Process

Storyboarding provides a visual representation of the narrative and aids in pre-production planning. The composition of a storyboard can vary, depending on the filmmaker's style, vision, and preferences. Typically, storyboards consist of a series of sequential panels, which visually depict each scene of the story. These panels include drawings, notes, and other visual aids to help the filmmaker convey their creative vision.

The Origins of Storyboarding

The concept of storyboarding dates back to the early 1900s. One of the earliest known instances of storyboarding in film was in the 1916 silent comedy "Neptune's Naughty Daughter," directed by Edwin S. Porter. Porter used a series of sketches to plan out the film's shots and sequences. The technique become mainstream in the early 1930's when Disney's animator Webb Smith started using storyboarding for animated films. From then on, Disney's animators used storyboards to plan their scenes and refine their ideas, creating a streamlined approach to animation. Soon after, other filmmakers began to adopt the use of storyboards as well. Alfred Hitchcock is one notable example, using storyboards to plan out every shot of his films in detail.

The Benefits of Storyboarding

Storyboarding provides filmmakers with a range of benefits. Firstly, it allows for more efficient pre-production planning, enabling filmmakers to test out different visual ideas and make any necessary changes before filming begins. Secondly, it helps to establish the pacing and flow of the film, ensuring that it maintains a consistent narrative structure. Thirdly, it can assist with communication between members of the filmmaking team, providing a visual reference that everyone can understand.

Filmmakers who Utilize Storyboarding

Many of today's leading filmmakers use storyboarding as an essential part of their pre-production process. Steven Spielberg, for example, is known for his extensive use of storyboards, often creating highly detailed visuals for each scene of his films. Another filmmaker who uses storyboards extensively is Christopher Nolan, who is known for his intricate and complex plots. Nolan uses storyboards to plan out the structure and pacing of his films, helping to create a cohesive and engaging narrative.

Filmmakers who Avoid Storyboarding

While many filmmakers swear by storyboarding, others prefer to work without it. One example is David Fincher, who is known for his meticulous attention to detail. Fincher prefers to work with his actors on set, making adjustments to their performances and the overall look of the film as he goes along. This approach allows for more flexibility and experimentation during filming but can also lead to a longer post-production process.


Storyboarding is a crucial aspect of the filmmaking process, providing filmmakers with a visual representation of their narrative and helping to establish a consistent pacing and flow. While some filmmakers prefer to work without storyboards, many of today's leading directors use them extensively to plan out their films. With the increasing availability of digital tools and software, storyboarding has become more accessible than ever, enabling filmmakers of all levels to create highly detailed visuals for their projects. Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting out, incorporating storyboarding into your filmmaking process can help you to create a more cohesive and engaging narrative.


  1. Some filmmakers use storyboarding as a way to experiment with different camera angles, lighting setups, and visual effects before actually shooting a scene. By trying out different ideas on paper, filmmakers can save time and money on set by knowing exactly what they want to achieve.
  2. Some filmmakers use storyboarding as a way to pitch their ideas to producers and investors. By presenting a visual representation of their vision, filmmakers can make their ideas more tangible and easier to understand.
  3. Storyboarding is not limited to live-action films and animation. It is also commonly used in video game design, comic book creation, and even advertising campaigns.
  4. While storyboarding is often associated with pre-production planning, it can also be used during post-production to help editors and visual effects artists plan out their work.
  5. Some filmmakers prefer to work with storyboards created by other artists, rather than drawing their own. For example, director Ridley Scott often uses storyboards created by artist Arthur Max to plan out his films.
  6. Storyboards can take many forms, ranging from simple sketches to highly detailed paintings. Some filmmakers even use computer software to create their storyboards, allowing for more flexibility and ease of editing.
  7. While storyboarding is often associated with visual storytelling, it can also be used to plan out sound design and music cues in a film. By including notes and references to sound effects and music in their storyboards, filmmakers can create a more immersive audiovisual experience for the audience.

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