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How to Create a Storyboard for a Video or Photo Shoot

A storyboard is a great way to plan your next photo or video shoot.  It creates a roadmap that helps everyone on the crew, as well as the client, know what you’re trying to accomplish.  Often time these take the form of a comic book like drawings that convey the look of the shot.  But if you’re anything like me, drawing stick figures just doesn’t cut it (hey if I could draw comic books I certainly would)!

To Make Things Easier

Rather than spend a lot of time telling you how to make a storyboard template, I’ll just share mine.  You can download this PDF and use it freely.  But let’s break down what goes where in the template.

  • Top of Form: Fill in information about the client and the shoot.  Keeping multiple pages numbered is also a good idea to make sure that no shots are missed.
  • Large Rectangles: Put a representative image here… this helps everyone know what to capture and how the story flows.  More on this in a moment.
  • Scene: The section of the script this shot belongs to.
  • TRT: Total Run Time.  How long the shot takes, which is essential when planning out camera and actor moves.
  • Video: A description of what is seen in the shot.  Also describe lighting, setting, or movement.
  • Audio: What is heard in the shot or said by a narrator.  Helps with planning the shot and timing out the action.

Finding Visuals

Rather than bore (or scare my clients with terrible visuals) I turn to stock images.  Adobe Stock makes it easy to find a wealth of images that help illustrate the scene.  If you’re using the images for reference, you do not need to license them, but if you plan to give the storyboard to clients, be sure to pay the license fee on the photos.

  • Enter a descriptive phrase into the search field
  • When you find a shot you like, check out related shots. Click on its thumbnail for more search tools
    • More from this series – shots by the photographer from the same location and time.
    • More from this model – additional shots of the actor or models (based on release form names).

Add to the Board

I like to work in Photoshop.  It makes it easy to paste images into the storyboard.

  1. Open the photo you want.
  2. Choose Select > All and then Edit > Copy to store them on your clipboard.
  3. Switch to the storyboard template that you’ve opened in Photoshop.
  4. Make a selection with the Magic Wand tool
  5. Choose Edit > Paste Special > Paste Into to add the photo into the selection.
    The images are automatically masked.
  6. Use the Image > Free Transform command to size the photos.
  7. Feel free to stylize the image using filters or layer styles.
  8. Print, save, share.  Bring the boards on the shoots or show them to your clients for feedback.  Once locked in, let the crew soak up the information too!

Remember, a storyboard is a visual plan… and when it comes to visuals, Adobe Stock makes all the difference!

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