STORY DEVELOPMENT OVERVIEW IN 7 STEPS

 

01. STORY BEATS (Key Images/Story Arc)

Story Beats are panels that convey only the key events in your story.  What the plot turns on.  There will be plenty of time to work out your acting queues, transitions, and other storytelling subtleties in the Action Beats/Revisions.  Right now use the limited number of panels provided to work out the larger story. more on Story Beats . . .

 

02. STORY THUMBNAILS (Action Beats and Transitions)

Story Thumbnails are a direct expansion of the Story Beats.  Once your major Story points are in place Thumbnails can help to work out key acting moments (or Action Beats) and transitions.   It's essential at this point that the story panels flow from one moment to the next.  more on Story Thumbnails . . .

 

03. ROUGH BOARDS (Staging, initial Shot Numbers and Cinematography)

Once your story is firmly established it's time to construct each shot through the lens of your camera. This means staging your characters, setting up cameras and making clear deliniations between foreground, midground and background planes.  Composition, camera placement, editorial transitions (dissolves, cuts, and fades) should all be taking shape. Number your shots at this point, keeping your drawings loose to allow for the multiple revisions. . .  more on Rough Boards . . .

 

 

04. CLEAN-UP STAGE (Refine Drawings,Tone if necissary and Fluid Shot Numbering until final Storyreel Edit)

Clean-up/Tonal Pass: Once you have worked out any story kinks in your Rough Board Revisions use the Clean-up pass to refine your drawings, strengthen compositions, add tone and fill in any needed panels to communicate story flow and camera moves.  Shot numbering stays fluid until the Storyreel is edited and approved. more on the clean-up stage. . .

 

05. STORYREEL or ANIMATIC (Timing, Scratch Audio and "Locked" Shot Numbers)

Storyreel/Animatic. Out the Window scene by Stephan Leeper

The Storyreel (or Animatatic) is simply and edited version of your Final Storyboards using stand-in sound effects to acentuate audio queues and a scratch (or temporary) musical score to help establish pacing and emotional tone.  You will also be using sound beeps to indicate hard transitions between shots and a muted tempo track to give structure to your edit.  more on the storyreel . . .

 

06. PRODUCTION BOARDS (Shot Notes, Dialogue and Reformatting for Production)

Production Boards are a product of the Storyreel process. Production Boards will be puplished (digitally or print) and help to accurately communicate story decisions into the production pipeline.  This step has more to do with formatting than anything else.  At this point your main concern will be labeling audio queues and production elements (such as dissolves, fades, and camera moves) and inserting dialogue and production notes. 

A note about Shot Numbering. This is where your shot numbering is "locked" for the duration of the production. From now on any added or deleted shots will not ripple the shot count. Added shots will have insert numbers and deleted shots will simply leave a gap in the sequence. For instance, in the following sequence a cut had been added to divede shot03 into to two seperate shots and shots 04 and 07 have been dropped altogether, or absorbed into a camera move; 01, 02, 03.1, 03.2, 05, 06, 09.  more on production boards . . .

 

 

07. FINAL THUMBNAIL PAGES (Context for Production Artists)

 

Thumbnail Pages are a reduced/simplified version of the Production Boards without any production notes. The Thumbnail Pages are laid out somewhere between 16 to 42 panels per page.  These are very valuable for the Layout Artists and Scene Planners to help them view each shot within a larger context.