Video Storyboarding 101 – A Guide for Novices

Whether you’re making a marketing video for a client or for your business, working on a new project is usually a thrill for creatives.

Project briefs are read thoroughly, brainstorming sessions ensue, and once the ideas start flowing, it gets the creative team jacked up.

It’s easy in those moments to get carried away with the passion of creating a new video. You might want to get to work ASAP and start putting out aesthetic content.

However, diving headfirst into a marketing video project might not be a wise move. That way, you’re bound to run into hiccups and glitches later.

Like other types of well-performing content, marketing videos need to be carefully ideated, strategized, and executed.

This makes video storyboarding an essential part of pre-production.


What is a video storyboard?

A storyboard is the scaffolding that aids the perfect construction of your marketing video.

Conventionally, a video storyboard is a loosely drawn scene by scene sequence of your audiovisual narrative.

A video storyboard contains details about frames, camera angles, shot selection, and transitions.

It sets the mood for the video through lighting, character expressions, and environmental details. Additionally, it may have some notes about the dialogue, script, and voiceover.

Each sketch in a video storyboard represents an important point in the narrative.

Animated video storyboards require much more detail than live video storyboards. The characters and other illustrations need to be much closer to the final product.

However, a live video storyboard can get away with a very basic depiction such as short or tall stick figures. Read more about it here.


Marketing video storyboards versus artistic video storyboards

Not all videos are made equal. Marketing videos include commercials, explainer videos, product demos, corporate videos, and more.

Artistic videos involve creative endeavors like films, music videos, cartoons, animated documentaries, etc.

Video storyboarding for both these types varies significantly. Here are two ways how:


Simplification of concepts

Marketing videos aim to simplify information about a product and service so that audience understands how to use it.

A marketing video storyboard should incorporate straightforward concepts and characters to form a narrative.

Artistic video projects, on the contrary, may intend to present complex ideas. The video storyboarding for such projects may involve abstract and symbolic elements.


Products v.s ideas

Directly or indirectly, marketing videos aim to sell a product or service.

While storyboarding for a marketing video, you should consider the business story, product features, and branding.

Your narrative should always narrow down and tie back to what the business offers.

The aim of the creative projects, however, is to broaden the audience’s imagination, present new ideas, and alternative perspectives.

So, artistic video storyboarding can usually afford more creative freedom.


Character creation

Storyboarding a marketing video always involves looking into the buyer persona.

To market a product, you need to tell relatable stories and exhibit that you understand the target audience’s pain points.

So the characters you create for a marketing video storyboard should be highly relatable. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing your audience’s interest.

Artistic projects, on the other hand, can choose to tell relatable stories or challenge the viewers by telling stories about people with completely different lives.

Character creation for such projects might be even more complex and involve more research.

Related: Developing Effective Commercial Characters for Ad Videos


Types of marketing video storyboards


Problem – Solution

The majority of the marketing video storyboards follow a problem to solution progression. It involves:

    • Focusing on the audience pain point by showing the main characters in distress
    • Positioning your product or service as a solution
    • Explaining the features
    • Depicting the positive emotions and ‘problem-free life’ thanks to your product


People as protagonists

Hard selling is not always the way to go in marketing videos. A common tactic is to focus on people rather than the product.

Such storyboards involve creating relatable characters based on thorough audience research and buyer persona.

The narrative uses them as protagonists to tell empowering stories. Character movements, expressions, and posture need to be carefully executed for such video storyboards.

It’s essential to keep these in line with the script. Pay special attention to adjectives like strong, independent, happy, etc.


Innovation – Need

Sometimes you have to create a need for your product. That demands making the audiences question how they were ever living without your product or service.

For instance, a new fancier version of a smartphone.

Video storyboarding for such products requires creating alluring and larger than life visual experiences so that they become irresistible for the audience.

These storyboards would include careful shot/frame selection, high impact animations/transitions, and sound design details.



Video storyboarding process

Let’s now get into how to storyboard for a marketing video.


Familiarize yourself with the business

First thing’s first, get to know who you’re working for. Whether it’s a client or your own business, learn about their history, their values, and their communication style over the years, etc.

It should give you a fair idea of what kind of theme and tone to set for your storyboard. For instance, whether you need to keep things serious and professional or fun and youthful.

Here’s a great example of knowing your business’s story and what it stands for.


Understand the product

Get into the nitty-gritty of the product or service on offer. Know the features, unique selling propositions, the competitive advantage, and how exactly it solves the consumer problems.

It’s important to learn the big idea and insights upon which the product was built so you can embody it in the storyboard.

This explainer video by Dropbox is a prime example of knowing and simplifying your product for your target audience.


Research your target audience

Delve deep into your buyer persona and virtually befriend your target audience.

Storyboarding a compelling marketing video requires that you understand the audience’s grievances, values, and behaviors.

Only then you’ll be able to create content that offers solutions.

Moreover, to create simplified video content, realize their level of understanding, linguistic barriers, and preexisting knowledge about the product or service.

Ikea knows that its customers love shopping for furniture, but assembling it is where the dread begins.

So they created this hilarious ad based on this insight.

Related: The Benefits of a Persona-Based Video Marketing Strategy


Select a point of view

Successful video storyboarding entails a consistent point of view to tell a story. For this purpose, choose your protagonist.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a character. Rather, it can be a shape, a logo, or any other element that’s consistent with the brand’s theme.

The protagonist serves as a constant and a connecting factor from the first to the last frame.

Slack uses a unique set of protagonists to tell a story in this video. Check it out.


Build an environment

Setting the right theme for your video storyboard is crucial. There are a lot of things to consider while building the right environment to tell your story.

For instance, for a high stake narrative about a medical device, you would want to go with more realistic and cleaner animations.

On the other hand, for a social media app promo, you can use much more ambitious or fun animations.

The way your characters dress, the colors they wear, how they interact with their setting all portray their emotions.

The use of lighting and shadows also plays a role in setting the tone of the scenes.

Camera angles and shot selection help you emphasize or understate certain information.

Furthermore, defining where to use cuts and transitions help creators produce a seamless marketing video.

This masterpiece by Chipotle does an amazing job at setting the right theme for the narrative. Notice how they use colors, light, expressions, and different elements to convey a strong message.

Not to mention the soundtrack is perfectly synced with the animations to tell an impactful story.


Decide the progression of the narrative

Once all the above factors are accounted for, it’s time to piece together your video storyboard scene by scene.

All important points in the plot should be presented in your storyboard in a self-descriptive way.

Carefully number your scenes and add any additional footnotes regarding the script, dialogue, or voiceover that might aid the creators.

Related: The Secrets to Writing an Amazing Infomercial Script


Video storyboarding tools for novices

Video storyboarding is not something exclusive to professionals.

Even if you’re an amateur, you can use video storyboard templates from services like Canva, Studiobinder, or Boords to your benefit.

Other, more basic video storyboarding tools include: Google slides and Microsoft PowerPoint.


And there you have it! With this handy guide on how to storyboard for marketing videos, you’re set to leave the storyboarding novice realm.

Looking to cut the work and get straight to your finished marketing video? Let us handle your next video project for you – from soup to nuts!

Schedule a free consultation call with our video strategist


Posted by Komal Munawar

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