Storyboarding might look so much fun, but the work and confusion that occurs can quite make a wonderful behind-the-scenes video. You will get a lot of video tutorials on Youtube to start off with storyboarding.
Though having prior experience in live-action storyboarding, it was after coming to webdew that I adapted to the storyboarding style of explainer videos. These explainer videos I am talking about include both stock footage live-action as well as animations.
However, when I migrate to a new type of video, one question still troubles me every single time: what template should I use for this project? Mainly in terms of the number of panels, a storyboarding page should have.
In this blog, I will tell you how to decide the number of panels for a storyboard project. I will use my experiences as an example so that you will understand things better.
Before we get into the number of panels, some of you might be wondering what a storyboard panel actually is… Let's start with that!
What is a storyboard panel?
While making a video storyboard, it will be a compilation of many actions. A storyboard panel denotes a single instance of action or dialogue, where one drawing will make one panel.
Put into simple words, these are basically sketches that a storyboard artist makes, outlining the action of every shot. Having storyboard panels all set makes production much easier and also saves a lot of money.
Now, I guess you are clear with what a storyboard panel is. So, let's get into the dilemma that you will probably face and keep thinking about while starting every new storyboarding project…
How many panels should you make for a storyboard project?
The explainer videos are animated after storyboards are made in illustrator files with neatly layered illustrations. Adobe illustrator art boards' options are flexible and can be exported to PDF format for presentation purposes.
However, the work of storyboard artists like me is a step ahead of that. You will have to visualize the concepts before creating vector illustrations that can be animated later directly from illustrator files. For this, you will have to make hand-done sketches to convey the concept in sketch format with the correct layout and framing of the shots.
Now, this can be done in many ways. There are countless options on the internet for creating many storyboard panels, mainly ranging from 1 to 12, along with styles and types.
For explainer videos, it makes sense to make a 1-panel storyboard where there is space for numbering, voiceover, and animation notes above and below the panel. These need to be worked on in detail, and one sketch packs a lot of data which helps to animate 1 to 3 seconds of footage.
But sometimes, there are montages and intricate movement patterns which need to be drawn for clarity and which can't be explained in animation notes. There, all sketches are composed in 1 panel, reducing their size instead of giving one panel for each of them.
If there are lots of such montages in a storyboard or if every panel is easy to understand and doesn't pack a lot of data, then 6 panels a page is also a pretty good option, composing horizontally in 2 rows of 3.
Having multiple panels like 4, 6, and 9 number of panels usually helps with the sequences which are fast-moving. So you don't have to turn many pages to grasp a sequence.
If notes are going to be detailed as nearly half the right side of the page, or if sketches need not be very detailed and can be managed in small size, then 4 and 6 panels storyboard can be arranged vertically.
Having 2 or 3 panels per page is also a good idea if the sketches need to be detailed. But it can be presented in small groups.
I usually find 3 panels per page as a good option as it keeps the sketches in the group, and it is also not too crowded. These look fairly big but are also grouped together, so the full presentation becomes fairly fast-paced. Arranging 1 panel on every page has the issue of slowing down the reading speed.
But all this is relevant when you are actually going to print the pages on a normal a4 size printer, which still many people prefer to do. If, in the process, there is no hard copy, then making individual sketches and arranging them in the desired template in software is also one solution.
It takes little time and effort for this process but initially, when you are not sure and developing your projects for the first time, it can help you find the correct template for you.
Ultimately, presentation is a big part of storyboarding, as storyboards are made to communicate ideas efficiently in pictorial form. The experience of going through a storyboard can be very much enhanced by how it is presented. Using the correct template is the most significant part of that experience.
Tips for beginners
If you are a beginner, the first thing to do is to find out the pacing of your script. If it is fast-paced, then having more panels on a page is better.
However, you must also find out how much average information a single panel packs. If that's high, then having less number of panels is advised. I personally started with 6 panels in my initial projects as my priority was to do them fast.
If sketches are smaller, then I tend to focus less on detailing, which is super helpful because I am one of those artists who can forget about storyboarding and start illustrating unnecessary details. Also, I am okay with drawings in small areas because I use mechanical pencils because of my technical background.
The final say
So ultimately, the number of panels for the storyboard depends on mainly three aspects. Firstly, who is going to use it and what they prefer. Secondly, the story's pacing and expected detailing of the sketches. And thirdly (if there is a choice), whatever the artist is comfortable with while working on the commercial video storyboard panels.
I hope this blog gave you insights into how to get started with storyboard panels. The webdew team creates many types of videos, including character animation, whiteboard videos, and motion graphics.
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