We’ve all heard the phrase, “Lights! Camera! ACTION!”. If only it were that easy. I am always amazed at people who have no clue what it takes to do good production. My father is a good example of this – we will spend time planning, shooting, editing, and revising – dad just shakes his head and says “I don’t see where all the time goes”. Perhaps you can relate to that. Many times people think you simply take a camera, shoot video, and play it on the big screen.
The work that goes into a quality production is often unseen – or for that matter, un-thought of. People do not realize the time investment in good production. I had a pastor once that was amazed the first time he sat in on a project edit. After sitting in on his first all-day edit session he was quick to help limit the requests coming to the video ministry for projects.
The key to a good video production is good planning. It doesn’t matter how simple the project seems — skip the planning step and you’ll get burned. I recall a project we did about three years back. We were doing a virtual tour of an apartment complex. It was easy. We knew what we needed as well as what we wanted everything to look like. We were having a very serious production meeting (while floating around in the backyard pool) and casually decided “we got this”. Feeling confident (should I say over confident), we lounged around the pool simply chatting about what we wanted to do the next day.
6AM the next morning arrived, we loaded the gear, headed to the location, shot the footage, and the next day began editing. This was supposed to be 5 hours of shooting, 8 to 10 hours of editing, and money in the bank. Not so much. We ended up going back to the location 3 different times and spending over 40 hours editing. We had skipped the critical step – we didn’t storyboard. No storyboard meant no road-map, and no roadmap meant long times ahead in the studio. This was a simple project made complicated by lack of good planning.
It doesn’t take many of these experiences to encourage one to do their work up front. Let’s face it — no one likes to storyboard, but it is a critical step in the creative process. Storyboarding is simply the act of developing pictures to represent the footage. Video is a visual art form, therefore the pre-planning and communication must also be visual.
Good storyboards allow you to walk up on the set, pull out the pictures, and everyone is on the same page — be it the camera operator, director, lighting guys, actors, or yourself! With well developed storyboards there is no guesswork – everyone knows what to expect. The shooting process and editing process is sped up and funding is easier to secure. In the end, good planning and storyboarding saves time and money — and usually, lots of it.
Storyboards don’t have to be works of art. They can be as simple as stick-figures or as complicated as full artist renderings. For those of us that lack the “drawing-gene” software has come to our aid. Programs like Frame Forge 3D (read our review) allow even the most novice person develop beautiful storyboards.
I urge you to learn from the mistakes of others and always plan your videos ahead of time. Take the time to create the storyboards and develop the script. The time you take to plan before the shoot will be money saved during and after.