Storyboarding essentials: A complete guide for AV creators 

Storyboarding is the cornerstone of film & video creation, video game design, and ad development. Companies and individuals use it as a go-to production technique when planning visual narratives. So, knowing how to make a storyboard for AV projects is the roadmap to impressing your audience. 

At Voice123 – where you’ll find voice actors for any story – we understand the value of planning in bringing stories to life. Here, we’ll explore what is a storyboard, how to make a storyboard, and useful storyboard examples to guide your next voice over project. 

Get ready to create visions that come to life in stories! 

What is a storyboard?


A storyboard is a sequenced collection of illustrations or images combined with short, detailed descriptions of scenes or actions in a film, animation, ad, or video, which is used to define, organize, and plan a story by visualizing key ideas and elements. Storyboarding in films visualizes camera angles and character placement in every scene so directors can communicate with production teams to plan shot sequences and transitions. In videos and gaming, storyboards map out gameplay levels, mechanics, and storylines. 

How to storyboard  

1. Define the story 

Consider your message and storytelling emotions when learning how to storyboard as they define key scenes. Storyboarding for a weight loss ad can include individuals struggling with their health, discovering an app, and achieving their goals. 

2. Gather materials 

Use storyboarding tools that suit your project’s needs. Traditional paper and pencils offer quick sketching and brainstorming options. Digital software like Storyboarder or Adobe Photoshop has a storyboard template and digital drawing tools for precise editing. 

3. Choose a storyboarding layout 

Consider the aspect ratio of how to storyboard with frames. Widescreen formats in 16:9 or 2.39:1 offer a panoramic canvas for expansive landscapes and dynamic action sequences. Square (1:1) or vertical (9:16) ratios suit smaller screens for social media or mobile content. 

4. Sketch thumbnails 

Opt for detailed artwork with character positions, expressions, and visual elements. A scene for a fitness app commercial could have a person struggling to lift weights, showing their frustration, using the app to get fit with happiness.

5. Include scene details 

Include scene details like camera angles, character expressions, and props. Pay close attention to designs and backgrounds for animated sequences. A frame for a food app can include the app’s interface on phone screens, showing order systems and delivery tracking.

6. Sequence storyboarding frames 

Arrange frames logically with a storyboard template for scene pacing and transitions. Sequential frames in a finance commercial can transition from scenes of a person struggling to balance their finances to finding success with a new money app. 

7. Consider transitions 

Arrows indicate transitions between frames, including camera movements, pans, tilts, or zooms. Symbols for specific transitions, like cuts for abrupt changes or fades for gradual shifts, can help convey specific moods or pacing. 

8. Include annotations and notes 

Notes add context about dialogue, sound effects, music cues, or special effects. In health commercials, they can specify voice over lines emphasizing an app’s health benefits or sound effects highlighting a person’s progression.

Inspirational storyboard examples 

1. Pixar’s Up 2009

Pixar’s storyboard examples in Up had detailed sketches with vibrant colors and expressive characters, focusing on emotion and storytelling through imagery. The opening sequence expands on what is a storyboard by setting the film’s emotional tone for Carl and Ellie’s life journey. 

2. Christopher Nolan’s Inception 2010

Nolan’s storyboard examples for Inception are precise and clear, depicting complex visual concepts. Creator Gabriel Hardman included diagrams and annotations to explain camera movements and special effects during iconic scenes like the hallway fight to help visualize complex action sequences. 

3. Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park 1993

Spielberg’s storyboard examples in Jurrasic Park focus on framing and composition to create dynamic visuals. They emphasize character placement to maximize dramatic effects like the T-Rex attacking the vehicle scene, which builds tension and suspense.

How to make a storyboard for voice over projects 

  1. Prepare a script with concise dialogue segmenting timing so each word contributes to your message.
  2. Sketch frames are used to plan visual synchronization with the voice over, considering composition and layout. 
  3. Timing and pacing in frame transitions must align with narration changes to avoid AV dissonance. 
  4. Emphasize emotion and tone with visual cues that complement your voice over, using color, lighting, and facial expressions. 
  5. Choose a pro voice actor from Voice123, the largest, most trusted voice over network, to add expertise and style to any project.

How to make a storyboard for short-form videos 

  1. Research platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube to understand audience preferences.
  2. Identify key messages the audience must take away from the video using unique selling points or promos.
  3. Opt for fast-paced storyboards with quick transitions and dynamic visuals that grab attention.
  4. Prioritize visuals over long expositions through dynamic illustration, vibrant imagery, colors, and symbols.
  5. Optimize for mobiles using bold, clear visuals since most people watch videos on their phones.

Storyboarding techniques for long-form videos

  1. Sketch thumbnail drawings using a storyboard template with framing and character placement.
  2. Use multiple frames within the storyboard for intricate action sequences. 
  3. Track multiple story arcs with separate detailed sections in the storyboard for each one.
  4. Establish visual motifs, recurring imagery, or color schemes for consistency.
  5. Use visual cues to signify transitions between different storylines. 

Storyboarding tips for video games 

  1. Review your game design document, which outlines mechanics, storyline, characters, environments, and vision.
  2. Identify key decision points where players’ choices affect the story or character relationships. 
  3. Create a flowchart to visualize different story paths and understand how they interconnect at branching paths.  
  4. Divide your storyboard into scenes, placeholders for dialogue, character actions, and environmental elements.
  5. Incorporate dynamic elements like character animations, environmental changes, and interactive objects.

Final thoughts on storyboarding 

Storyboarding is an art form that helps creators meticulously sketch each frame. It’s a process where imagination meets strategy. So, understanding what is a storyboard is a valuable guide, whether you’re creating a cinematic masterpiece, designing an immersive video game, or producing captivating advertisements.

Need a talented voice for your next project? Work with the pros on Voice123. Or hire our Managed Services to oversee your entire project.

Ready to tell your story from imagination to illustration?

FAQs on storyboarding

What are the 7 steps in storyboarding?

They define the project’s goals, create a script, sketch thumbnails, refine sketches, arrange frame sequences, add annotations, and revise.

What is the meaning of storyboarding?

Storyboarding is the visual outline or sequence of events of a creative project through a series of illustrated frames. They’re blueprints that help creators plan and organize key scenes with visual elements.

What is the basic rule in storyboarding?

Each frame must communicate essential information, such as character actions, dialogue, camera angles, and scene transitions, to maintain clarity when conveying a narrative.

Is storyboarding easy?

No, storyboarding requires creativity and attention to detail, making it challenging as it requires visual storytelling skills.


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