Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Your Video Script – Storyboards and Shot Lists

Storyboards And Shot Lists

Your video script serves as a guide to your video production where you can start visualizing what the viewer will be seeing on the screen and what they will be hearing. Two other valuable tools you can use in the shooting process are storyboards and shot lists. I like to use both since they help me in different ways. The storyboard helps communicate my thoughts to the other people I am working with and make sure everyone understands the end result. Also, since you often will not shoot in chronological order from the script, the shot list helps you group your shots together for efficiency.


Sometimes the written description in the video column (column 2) of your AV script is all the storyboard you need. This is a written or verbal storyboard. Other times you may want to make a more detailed, traditional storyboard as a way to visualize your shots. A traditional storyboard is a visual depiction of what will take place in each shot. The video “story” is told in the form of sketches and written descriptions; it is like a very detailed comic strip.

Storyboards are especially useful when you want a videographer to shoot a scene in a specific way. It also helps your cast and crew understand the action of a scene. Sketching out a drawing, even if you use stick figures, helps tremendously in getting your visual ideas across.

Storyboards can include details like camera angles, lighting and action.

We have included two types of storyboard templates that you may want to use at  Shoot-To-Sell.com.


Shot Lists

shot list, as we use the term, is a production tool that contains shot numbers from your script grouped into similar locations or camera angles to make shooting more efficient. The shot list is also sometimes referred to as a shooting script. We use the term shot list to avoid confusion between the similar sounding terms script and shooting script.

It’s basically a written account of what a storyboard does visually. They are developed separately from the script so that you can group and film the shots together and out of order. This is done to make your shooting schedule more efficient.

Shooting out of order and with a shot list enables you to group shots by location, shooting angle, time of day, cast members, etc. Following the list allows you to make sure you get every shot as you check off each one after it is completed. For example, shots 1, 2, 5, 19 and 23 may share the same location, time of day or camera angle.

While shooting out of the script order is the most efficient way to go, doing so adds a layer of complexity because you will need to ensure continuity between scenes. You’ve probably seen continuity issues in movies where the actor had a full glass of water in front of him then the next scene it’s empty, then the next scene it’s full again. Those are continuity errors. On more elaborate videos we’ll have someone whose job is to ensure continuity between shots. Most feature films have this.

Camera A
2 Split screen example of variety of species of cactus
10 Shoot several smaller succulents
22 Shoot with focus on the different textures
23 Succulents under shade
24 Pan from shady area to full sun
35-39 Various shapes of succulents
Camera B
3 Split screen example of variety of species of cactus
7 Cactus in full sun


We have included a shot list template available as a download at Shoot-To-Sell.com.

While it seems shooting in this way will make your production more complicated, organizing it this way makes sense. Say you’re shooting on location in a town a few hours away and you were only going to have your narrator or actor for a few hours. You have to shoot all your scenes with your narrator at once because it just wouldn’t be reasonable to shoot your initial scenes, change locations, come back again, leave, shoot others and then return to shoot the ending. That would cost too much and not be efficient so you will want to get the entire narrator part done in the few hours you have.

That is why you number each of your shots and be as detailed as you need to be. This is where a script supervisor comes in handy. They ensure that, despite the production being shot out of script sequence, the video makes continuous verbal and visual sense. At the very least you may want to hire a detail oriented person whose job is to deal solely with making sure you get every shot. You may think a job like this is only required on movie sets but even the simplest videos sometimes need it.

We have worked with directors and producers who did not work with a well thought-out plan and as a result we saw them spend unnecessary time and money, not to mention adding stress to their crew, talent and themselves. We learned to hate the term, “fix it in post” meaning that it’ll be dealt with in the post-production phase of editing. You can’t always do that and even if you can it it is so much better to get what you need the first time.

Your video script is just your starting point in your final production. After you have written it and envisioned the shots, you will then need to plan the rest of your shoot. You will develop lists for prospective locations, supplies/props needed, shooting schedules that take into consideration seasons, time of day, etc, crew and talent call lists, among a few. Taking the time beforehand to plan for every detail will result in a more successful production phase.

Next week: The 3rd video essential – why you need a stabilizer (even if you want that hand-held look)

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