Before production on our latest short film, “The Get Together”, Michael and I created our very first “video storyboard” to help us prepare for the shoot. We’d never done anything like it before, but the process of creating it was so instrumental to the success of our film that we thought we’d share some of the benefits of creating one.
Creating a video storyboard helped shape the overall execution of our story by providing real-time feedback on some of the ideas we were considering. By walking through the scene and filming on a DSLR (Canon T2i), we captured each story beat before playing back the footage and looking at areas for improvement. Getting an instant visual of how the shot was coming together was extremely useful. Unlike traditional storyboards, shooting a rough version can help you shape better transitions and blocking for your actors because you can actually see how it’s playing out on screen. It becomes very clear what’s working from a directorial standpoint.
Freedom to Fail
A tricky thing about shooting a oner is understanding the most important things to show on camera. We realized that we couldn’t rely on simply cutting to individual coverage of actors as they spoke. We were forcing ourselves to only pick one subject to show in frame and then commit to their coverage of a moment. But creating a video storyboard gave us the freedom to figure out the right subject, often as a result of trying several different options. And we were glad we did this. It can be extremely costly in both time and money if you spend your production hours working out the framing. Because we only had one weekend to pull off this shoot, every second on set counted. In the end, we saved hours of time on set because we’d already figured out what worked ahead of time.
Creating a video storyboard helped us communicate our exact vision for the cast and crew. When attempting a one-take, it can be difficult to communicate what the end result is going to look like. But our video storyboard helped eliminate the confusion by showing everyone’s blocking while helping them see the purpose behind it all. By the time our first day of production rolled arrived, everyone knew how the pieces of this puzzle fit together, saving Michael and I the time to explain it.
The next time you’re preparing for a film, try shooting a rough version if possible. Don’t worry about lighting, props, or extras. Just figure out the best shots that will help you tell your story. Production days have to be run efficiently. So it’s important to approach them with a well-prepared, confident game plan.
See the final side by side here:
To learn more of the valuable lessons we took away from this production, be sure to download our FREE ebook, “How to Pull Off a Great Oner.”