If a script tells you what to say and do, a storyboard and shot list tells you what to show and how to show it.
A storyboard is a rough drawing or visualization of your scene. It kind of looks like a comic book. It forces you to think about the visuals and map out all the major shots of your video, and it serves as a great reference tool on set for your team.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Well, I can’t draw.” But a storyboard doesn’t have to be elaborate or even pretty.
In this demo storyboard I’m doing, I’m keeping it pretty simple. Now, I do have experience drawing, but that doesn’t really matter. You could draw stick figures. You could set up action figures and snap a picture with your phone or put it together digitally using a program such as Adobe Illustrator or Canva — whatever allows you to transfer the vision in your head onto paper.
In the end, the storyboard serves as the blueprint for your shoot and for your edit. And it also helps you create your shot list.
A shot list is literally a list of shots needed to be filmed during production. It provides details of how and where your scenes will be filmed and it provides information such as the camera movement, camera angle, framing, action in the shot and technical notes — any information needed to capture the shot the way you want.
And again, it doesn’t have to be elaborate or official. Back to my demo, I’m using a shot list sheet I made in Excel to outline the shots I’ll need for my demo script. It’s super short, but it’s still helpful to see the shots in this list format so I can be sure to get all the video coverage I need for my script and to shoot it all in the right style.
The visuals in a video bring your message to life, and storyboards and shot lists are the keys to accomplishing that. It may be worthwhile to include your director and your editor in the storyboard and shot-listing process as they bring a unique insight that can help you figure out how to capture certain shots and to get the right coverage you need for post-production.
And that’s storyboards and shot lists!
Kathryn Price is a video producer and designer at United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tennessee.