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Movie Class – The Storyboard, or How to Tell a Story Visually

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StoryboardWhat is a Storyboard?

This past Movie Class, I told the kids they were ready for the next step: storyboarding. Once they had their scripts finished with action and dialogue, we moved on to the visualizing of the film, and working out the details of their stories. In order to plan what we need to do for the actual shoot, I wanted them to first put in paper what they were “seeing” when they were telling their stories. To do so, in film we usually do a Storyboard, which is breaking down the story in images. Every time a shot changes size or location, we draw a different image.The drawings don’t need to be very good nor very detailed — stick figures to see position of people and items, as well as frame sizes, are just enough. That’s the way I’ve done several shorts and a feature.

First, I showed them an example of how to do a Storyboard, with a scene of a movie they all knew: Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. Here’s a page I found on a storyboarding site:

Alice in Wonderland storyboard Next I showed them the actual scene in the movie, to make it clear that every time we change the camera angle or shot size, we need a new picture. Armed with this, a few storyboard template pages, their pencils, and couple of comic books as reference, they all set to work.

Mr. JS’s Storyboard

JS was the one who took the longest, as his script is 3 pages long. His Storyboard was also 3 pages long, but I only included here 2 of them (the last page is also all in Close Ups). He is doing a story set in Word World, where Duck, Dog and Pig want to play football — but when they get to the field, it had rained and it is all muddied up.

StoryboardJSLast week I had told JS that he needed to pay more attention to the details in his story… I suspect he took my words to heart!

Miss I’s Storyboard

Miss I’s story is only a page long, and her Storyboard was too. Her story is about a Super Hero Couple called the Greens, who fight against trashing villains.

StoryboardIKLast week I also told Miss I that she was getting lost in the details, and she needed to look at the bigger picture. Again, I think it shows to an extreme in the visualization she did of her film.

Mr. JH’s Storyboard

JH didn’t come to class last week, so he missed the structure vs details lecture… and his Storyboard had a lot more variation on sizes and movement. His is the story of a chase, where a hero runs after a villain and tries to capture him. He almost succeeds… but then the villain escapes and they keep the chase going.

StoryboardJHMr. JH’s Storyboard was the most varied, combining different shot sizes and adding both detail and story in a visual way. He still needs to develop a little more variation on what his camera is seeing, but I’m sure he’ll realize about this once he gets the actual camera.

What comes next?

I believe that the best way to show them that they need to tell the story with a variety of angles, shots and movement, is by shooting their Storyboards in still photography. They homework was to bring the toys and props they need to shoot their stories. We’ll mount those pictures to the dialogue, and I’ll have them see the whole thing before they do a final pass at the Storyboards prior to shooting.

Film is a visual media, and learning how to tell stories with images is like learning a new language. I think they’ll be able to see themselves what is missing… should be interesting to see if the realization clicks!
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About Erika

Worked in film and TV for several years before having my two wonderful children. Now I try to bring that creative input into my home to raise my kids. Hope you enjoy following this journey!
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  1. What a great class! I didn’t learn how to use & make story boards until college, so these kids are doing better than me. Using still photography is a great idea too!

    • Thanks, Ann! I think they are having fun and learning a lot. I think that getting them to run with their imagination and using the technology we have available right now is wonderful! Stay tuned next week for the photo-boards!

  2. I am always so in awe of what you get the kids to do!! This is another example! Fantastic!

  3. This is so fun! I would have loved doing this as a kid! I cannot wait to see more.
    Naila Moon-Hostess from Kid Lit Blog Hop #KLBH

  4. I adore kids’ artwork and how they interpret life. This is great!

  5. Pingback: Movie Class: Kids photo stories - Mami Tales

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