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Weekly Video Tip: Storyboarding

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By Stephen Schweickart

If you think of some of the best videos you’ve seen—whether it’s one of the Harry Potter series, or a Super Bowl commercial that was so entertaining and captivating you just HAD to watch it again—you may not realize how much planning actually went into the concepts. While I hate to admit that all 38 Harry Potter films and 25 Twilight movies have been topping the charts—they did require some impressive forethought. I’m referring to storyboarding.

Every successful video, even if it’s only a 30-second commercial, has a much more detailed shot list and vision hidden behind it. A storyboard is a visual representation using drawings and illustrations to map out the flow of your video. To make sure the kids sitting in the back of the class hear me, let me be clear: you make a storyboard before you film! It’s your blueprint, your map. Your chance to weasel out all your bad ideas before you waste time with an ill thought through a marketing piece.

Your storyboard doesn’t need to be a visual masterpiece worthy of awards. Simply enough to convey the concept of who or what will be on camera, how and where each shot will be filmed, the order and feel of events, and so on. If you’re capable of drawing a stick figure, you stand a chance.

Your storyboard will probably undergo many changes along the way as you and your entourage collaborate. It’s better to make changes and revamp the concept in these planning stages than after filming has started. That can result in an editing nightmare, sections being forgotten, continuity errors and more. The final draft however, should clearly convey technical details, content (written and/or verbal delivery), details regarding set location, time of day and more. Your storyboard is the video world’s version your grocery shopping list and the dinner recipe combined. Forget one item, leave out an ingredient, or don’t bake it long enough—and you’ve just thrown your money, time and dinner out the window. In both cases you’re left scrounging for something to make do, and we both know the back up plan is never filet mignon.

Stephen Schweickart is the co-founder of VScreen. For more information on this topic, visit VScreen’s site at http://www.vscreen.com/.

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