Storyboarding: Mental Checklist

No art today.  But, as I’m putting together a list of tips and do’s and don’ts for our storyboard team, one of the tips stood out to me.  It’s helpful to newbies and vets alike.  We all get stuck in our own personal tunnel vision sometimes while we’re acting out an intense bit of dialogue or creating the next thrilling action sequence.  This little “checklist” helps to serve as a reminder to keep those boring mechanics in mind.  The mechanics that help make a storyboard read well and make sense.

You should have a “mental checklist” as you finish each panel.  At first it will be a conscious act, but with time and experience, it will become second nature and work in the background of your mind as you draw your panel.  Your first priorities will obviously be choosing the camera angle and then drawing the characters acting out their dialogue or business.  Once these two main duties are accomplished, your mental checklist should kick in:

  •  composition (Are there tangents?  Is there enough negative space?  Too tight?  Too wide?  Is it composed within TV safe?)
  • screen direction  (have I maintained proper screen direction?  Look out for jump cuts.)
  • shot flow (watch out for scenes too similar, or character size too similar.)
These are things I am constantly revising in almost all of the boards that come across my desk.  The good boards just have less of these notes.  We all let this stuff go to some extent in the heat of boarding out a scene.  This checklist will help right the ship, once those passions have subsided.  And, hopefully, before you hand it in to your director.
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