Writing Storyboard Content in 10 Steps (Or Less)

May it be a complicated animation, a convincing testimonial, or a detailed documentary, writers also have to go through the typical video creation process, but wait!

Before the camera starts to roll, you’ll need to have your content finalized. This is a daunting task, especially if your video is a lengthy one, but it’s not impossible to do!

In the beginning, there was conceptualization…

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Okay, maybe not that kind of conceptualization, so follow me down the rabbit hole to know the materials you’ll need and the direction you should be taking when you’re working on a video project:

* Note: Shooting techniques will not be discussed here, as the main focus is on storyboard creation and execution on the copywriter’s part.

Step 1: Check existing resources (from your client or Project Manager) to get background information and materials for script creation.

Materials:

  • Project Brief (if available)
  • Email threads with Client (discussion)
  • Clent documents (script, suggestions)

Goal: Gather background information (and script, if available) to start tweaking/writing the script

Step 2: Once relevant documents and records are accessed, start writing the script according to the client’s preferences.

Materials:

  • Initial Script containing the following:
  1. Problem/Issue (pain points) addressed by the video
  2. Video objectives
  3. Target audience
  4. Messaging
  5. Outline
  6. Structure
  7. Voice-over script

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Yes, *hums* nobody said it was easy…

Goal: Build on the skeletal structure of the video and create its messaging. Decide on the appearance/style later.

Step 3: Submit your script to Client/Project Manager for review/approval. In this step, you will you need a lot of patience and accept that not all of your ideas will make it to the final video, especially when subject matter experts weigh in on the content.

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You will still have the creative control, though, so make sure that the revisions are aligned with the video’s message. Once the script has been approved, it’s time to execute the idea of the video through its appearance: storyboard.

Step 4: Start converting the script into storyboard. The simplest format is to create two columns: one for audio and another one for video. However, you can be more specific by personalizing your storyboard. Divide it into scene number, visual peg/mockup, description of the scene, and voice-over/overlay text/super. For example:

Scene No. Voice-over Scene Description Visual mockup Extra notes:

Build the look and feel of the video around client’s preferences and approved script. To help the client and your teammates imagine how the video will look like during pre-production, look for visual pegs online. Sources can be from YouTube, vimeo, freepik, shutterstock, and, of course, Google.

Freelance Writer Tom Handler of The Writer Underground shares useful storyboarding tips:

  • Not everyone can be on the same page as you are when you thought of the flow and transitions of the video, so try to describe and look for accurate images that will depict/describe each scene.
  • Getting your concept down on paper – in broad strokes – is more important than sewing up every detail.
  • If you’re working on a film and breaking it down shot by shot, create what’s called a shot list. For each shot on the list, you’ll need to think about the shot’s composition and other details involving how it will actually be filmed.
  • Remember that the point of the storyboard is to provide visual clarity and keep everyone on the same page. It’s not supposed to be a work of art in and of itself. Take a practical view when it comes to the level of detail you choose for your storyboard. You don’t want your viewer to get lost in trying to interpret your illustrations instead of seeing the bigger picture.
  • A good storyboard will be easily understood by anyone viewing it. Potentially, a director, cameraman, scene selector, or even a prop specialist (just to name a few) may refer to the storyboard for reference, guidance and direction.

Materials:

  • Storyboard document
  • Links to visual pegs

Goal: Come up with the look and feel of the video.

Step 5: Share your storyboard with people you’re going to work with to develop the video. These people can be your videographers/graphic artists/animators/project managers (those in the production stage) first to measure feasibility. Once it gets approval from the prod people, submit it to the client for review/approval.

Materials:

  • Storyboard (now completed and approved by the team)
  • Email to Client

Goal: Get approval from the team (and subsequently, from the Client) with the current storyboard.

Step 6: The Client may have revisions or comments, so take these into account and read their comments carefully before revising the storyboard. Cascade comments to Project manager and prod people.

Materials:

  • Client’s Comments
  • Revised storyboard

It is crucial that the storyboard gets approved before video production starts so as not to waste resources of Creative Services.

Step 6: Once the Client has approved the storyboard, assist the videographer/animator in the execution process by providing the latest storyboard (don’t email, use corp comms/dropbox and give the link). Help with the timing and pegs if needed.

Step 7: As the video is being processed, you may also give relay updates/questions to the Client if needed. When the first draft of the video is done, take time to review. Make sure it matches what’s on the storyboard.

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If there are changes, include them in your own revision form to relay to your videographer/animator to tweak the first draft. Look out for:

  • Shot Length (Avoid dead scenes)
  • Audio volume consistency
  • Background music volume consistency
  • Timing of transitions
  • Visual-audio matching
  • Messaging

Once the video meets your first set of revisions, it’s time to send it to the client for review.

Attach the revision form to document any revisions coming from the Client’s side.

Materials:

  • First draft of the video
  • Approved storyboard
  • Revision form

Goal: Fine-tune the video through two levels: your peers and the Client.

Step 8: Once the revision form is received from the client, go over their comments with your videographer/animator/project manager. Apply changes if needed. Repeat step 7 by sending the revised video and revision form to the client to document changes. Ideally, there should be three (3) rounds of feedback before the video is finalized.

Good luck! And now…

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