How it’s Made: A Guide for How to Use and Review Storyboards

When working with any creative agency or studio, you hear all sorts of industry words thrown around. We know only some people are familiar with these terms, and you may even hear terms used differently depending on the agency.

I want to share a bit about storyboards in animation at Pixel Park. This blog post will cover what a storyboard is and why it’s used in animation. Additionally, we’ll explore the difference between sketched and designed storyboards and offer tips on giving effective feedback during the storyboarding phase.

What is a storyboard?

In animation, a storyboard’s goal is to lay out the sequence of visuals in an easy-to-digest format before we add motion. This way, we can get feedback on how a story feels with the visuals and how the story flows.

As you can see, the storyboard will include boxes of imagery. Below each of those frames is the audio or voice-over script. Below that, there is typically more text that describes how things will move in that frame.

What are sketched boards vs. designed boards?

A sketched storyboard looks rough and super ‘sketchy.’ It might have simple figures or be black and white and look like a doodle – not at all what you would want your final video to look like. Not to worry, this typically comes early in the process and will eventually develop into the final look. Sketched boards are helpful because they are a quick way to get the creative team’s ideas for the visuals onto paper. They are easy to change because they are simpler images and can be edited just like that!

Designed storyboards take visuals to the next level. They will be closer to the exact art that will be in the final video, with complete type on screen in the correct fonts, characters with all their details, and all the right colors – basically just missing the movement!

The process of making an animated video will likely go from script writing to a sketched storyboard, then a designed board. Sometimes a concept is so straightforward we can go from script writing directly to designed boards. All processes can look a little different, and a producer will keep you looped in at all times. 

How do I best give feedback?

The most important thing when reviewing a storyboard (whether sketched or designed) is to understand this is your opportunity to make changes to the design, layout, last-minute script tweaks, colors, text, etc., before moving into the time-intensive animation phase. The goal is to ‘lock’ or finalize the design and story so you don’t have to make changes later. With some studios, this can help avoid overages or overuse of hours down the line.

Give feedback like:
– Frame 2: Can we make this text a different color or have it stand out more?
– Frame 3: Can we remove this character?
– Frame 4: Update this graph to these numbers ____
– Frame 10: Swap frames 10 and 11, so we can see this graph first.

If you have already locked the script, avoid significant story or concept changes in the storyboard; otherwise, the team may have to start the storyboard from scratch. While possible, it can be costly in time and money. Always feel free to communicate any concerns; Pixel Park or the team likely has creative solutions that still fit your timeline!

Know that your creative team wants to hear all your thoughts during this phase! Storyboards are a tool to communicate the plan for animation, and this is your opportunity to make visual changes. Like blueprints to the story or message being told, they help create efficiency and the ability to create early buy-in during the creation process.

We know this phase can be an exciting one!

PS (Pixel Secret)

The assets created in design storyboards have the potential to be used beyond your animated video! We love when clients utilize the designs in other ways across their brand (email graphics, printed materials, etc.). We’ll share more details about these possibilities in a future blog post!

…and see how these storyboards came to life for the Colorado Crisis Services spot HERE!

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