Storyboards artist as a career
Storyboards artist as a career
Storyboard Artists translate screenplays, or sequences from screenplays, into a series of illustrations in comic book form. These illustrations have two functions: to help Directors clarify exactly what they want to achieve, and to illustrate to all other Heads of Department exactly what is required, e.g., prosthetics for Make-up, Computer Generated Images (CGI) for Visual Effects, props for the Art Department, etc.
In many ways comic books are the art form that most closely resembles cinema – they both tell stories in a primarily visual form, involving discrete, framed images linked sequentially to convey information. Although comic book images are static, it is often useful to employ the comic book form to develop complex sequences in films that require careful planning, and that can not or should not be left to on-set improvisation. Helping the Director to conceptualise these sequences is the specialist task of Storyboard Artists. They work on a freelance basis.
What is the job?
Storyboards are mainly required on films containing large amounts of action and/or CGI, where complex chase, fight or battle scenes need to be visualised and carefully planned. It is now becoming commonplace for many big budget feature films to be storyboarded before shooting begins. Although it may be argued that this stifles the creative process of directing a film, it is a sensible way of avoiding overshooting and spiralling budgets.
Depending on individual Directors and their requirements, Storyboard Artists usually start work early in the production process. After reading the screenplay, they meet with the Director to discuss the mood and atmosphere of any scenes to be storyboarded. During this process Storyboard Artists must analyse the Director’s requirements, and visualise the scene from the camera’s point of view, working out the characters’ positions, who or what else is in the frame, and from what angles they are seen, and imagining their feelings. After Storyboard Artists have delivered the first few illustrations, Directors usually allow them to suggest their own ideas for the following scenes, although some Directors are more prescriptive about what they want, using storyboards as a reminder rather than as a template. On big budget films, two or three Storyboard Artists may be employed full time, usually in Art Department offices at film studios, where they are able to examine any models of the sets and photographs of various locations, and refer questions to the Production Designer.
Although most Storyboard Artists still prefer to use pencil and paper rather than draw onto a computer screen, as they have more control over the movement and flow of a pencil line, they use computer software packages such as Photoshop to collate and change work easily. Because of advances in computer games and in animation techniques, many storyboard software packages are available, e.g., Storyboard Lite, Frameforge 3D Studio and Storyboard Artists & Storyboard Quick.