At the heart of any good creative project you will usually find a storyboard – the planning tool which brings together all your ideas into one, meaningful blueprint. Storyboarding is a process which helps us pull together all the elements we want to include in a project – the messaging for the audio, the visuals which will bring the words to life and vital instructions for production.
They are quick and easy to produce and a useful springboard from which we are able to develop ideas. They are also a useful way of sharing and testing a project at an early stage with clients and with other members of our team. Where there are disagreements between colleagues, they provide a useful way to iron these out before we move into the more expensive production process when graphics and animation are more difficult to change.
Take the time to focus on objectives
With storyboarding, we start by listening carefully to our clients and often their stakeholders, so that we are really clear on their objectives. Whether you are developing a project in-house or producing a piece of creative work for someone else, we recommend you take time to do this, so you are really clear about the outcomes required, before putting pen to paper.
Next comes the script, which highlights many of the main messages to get across. The trap so many people fall into is trying to cram too much into the script. We work on the principle that less is more when you are trying to create impact. Aim for no more than 120-150 words a minute, less if you can. We like to start by getting messaging down in headline form, that way it is easier to prioritise essential over ‘nice to have’.
We will then check messaging tells a coherent story, which is relevant for the audience, and which flows in a logical way. You might at this stage have some really great ideas which simply don’t fit – that’s not unusual. Just put them to one side in case you need them later or keep them handy for a future project. But do make sure that the keywords you definitely wanted to include are in the relevant section.
Once you have a first draft, we find it really helpful to do a double check on whether it matches the needs of all audiences, not just the most obvious one. For example, at Me Learning where we are commissioned to produce training modules for specific workforce groups, we will also consider the relevance of content for other groups who may see the training – other employees, or a wider audience of service users or carers. To do this we would recommend placing yourself in the shoes of all those different audiences and scrutinise the content carefully from their perspective. We even read the script out loud with this in mind.
We embark on visuals by creating line drawings to enhance the script, as part of the storyboarding process. These are really simple – we tend to use stick people and include notes on any important details which will need to be taken into account during design.
A quick word of warning – this is an important time to research details, such as branding, uniforms and demographics of participants, so clear instructions are included within the storyboard. Getting this right now will potentially save you time and money later!
Where to animate?
Now this really is less is more. Most of your storyboard is written script but allow yourself room for that final flourish, where animation can be used to help keep people engaged – just make sure it’s used sparingly and used well.
At Me Learning we follow Disney’s much-respected 12 principles of animation and let’s face it, if the rules have been written by the people who brought us everything from Snow White to The Lion King, they are clearly worth following.
For the Creative Team, it is during the storyboarding process that we often get a first glimpse of a project’s potential, which we find hugely rewarding. Storyboarding is a highly collaborative process within our team – when colleagues come together that is when creativity flows. And finally, we try to make storyboarding fun because we firmly believe that when we manage to achieve this, it reflects in the product and what better way to create learning which really engages an audience.
We hope you have found our blog on storyboarding useful and we wish you the best of luck with your creative projects. Me Learning provides a range of services to support training.
For more information or to get in touch contact us at 01273 499 100 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post was written in collaboration with the Me Learning Creative Team.