COSMOS MOVIE PRODUCTION BLOG 9:
“A picture paints a thousand words… or something like that”
A Storyboard is basically a huge comic strip of the film, used to help visualise the scenes and how they will be seen through the lens of a camera.
Here are a few examples of the COSMOS Storyboard for a sequence where one of the main characters has the run through a forest at night:
Storyboards can vary in complexity, from simple ‘stick-figure’ line drawings to intricately crafted works of art in their own right.
Many major motion pictures will have entire teams of Storyboard Artists methodically working their way through set-piece sequences or even the entire film.
Some Directors produce their own stylised storyboards, allowing their vision to be translated directly to the page – Ridley Scott’s Ridleygrams are not only incredibly beautiful, but a fascinating insight into his visual process.
If you’re a Director, or want to be one, then take a leaf out of Sir Scott’s (sketch) book and pick up a pencil! You don’t have to produce work that’s worthy of the Tate Modern, just make sure you can doodle out what you see in your head.
Not only does this allow you to judge your own ideas to see whether they’ll ‘cut’, but also allows you to quickly and clearly communicate your ideas to cast and crew; you don’t have to blabber on for 20 minutes explaining a shot… you can just go “Here! Look at this! I want it like this!” – Job done!
In general, action sequences or scenes involving lots of elements and visual effects are heavily storyboarded. As well as pre-visualising the scene, Storyboards can also help estimate the cost of the production.
This awesome video shows the Storyboards from Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report playing over the finished film audio – it really gives you an idea of how influential Storyboarding is in shaping the finished film.
We’ve storyboarded the entire script for COSMOS which took us about 2 months in total. This involved drawing 1,055 individual ‘plates’ by hand, twice – first in pencil, then in ink… So all in all, we did just over 2,100 storyboards.
Not all the Storyboards are as elaborate as those above (and none are as epic or detailed as Ridley’s!) – We decided to give the ‘set-pieces’ a bit more care and attention, but I reckon 80% of the plates we drew were more basic like the ones below. They just didn’t need to be as detailed and quite frankly we didn’t have the time or patience to do them all in the style above.
But it just goes to show that it doesn’t really matter how detailed your Storyboards are, as long as they are clear and can communicate the shot and sequence you want to achieve, then they’ve done their job! Read the next blog about creating the Cosmos SOUNDTRACK here…
Elliot Weaver & Zander Weaver