four tips for successful storyboards

The storyboard is the blueprint for live action and animated videos. It’s important to create one that captures the essence of your video in tone and content, so your client can appreciate (and approve!) your vision, and your team can execute your ideas.

Here are four tips I’ve developed over the years for creating efficient and effective storyboards.

Tip 1 – Work fast

I don’t labor the on first few frames – I throw lots of images and ideas into my storyboard and clean it up later. This approach keeps me on my toes – creative and spontaneous. And I know I’ll spend 80% of my time tweaking the last 20% anyway, so there’s no need to get bogged down at the beginning. Working fast helps me keep the creative process moving.

Tip 2 – Don’t send it

Just when I think my storyboard is ready to send to the client…I don’t. Instead, I share it with colleagues, friends and family…other MK3 creative directors and often, my wife and kids. I usually get great input and discover new ways to look at things from the audience’s perspective.

Tip 3 – Send it with a “friend”

When I’m finally ready to deliver the boards to the client, I sometimes send it with a “plus one” – another creative element like a music track I’m considering, a voiceover audition I’m leaning towards, or an animation test I’m playing with. I don’t always have choices like these made in the storyboarding process, but when I do, they really help communicate the creative tone I’m looking for.

Tip 4 – Be ready for feedback

I used to “cling” to my storyboard ideas. Now I’ve learned to be more open to feedback, even if it means rethinking some of the creative. Client feedback means they’re invested in the content and care about the vision, so relevant actionable feedback helps ensure they’ll get the video they’re looking for. And that doesn’t mean you can’t surprise them. I always try to overdeliver with unique effects and enhancements – so the project springs from the storyboard but takes on a life of its own.

There are lots of ways to make a great storyboard, so whether you’re creating one or receiving one – hopefully these tips will provide a bit of insight on building the blueprint for a successful video.


John Lawrence