Book Review - The Storyboard Artist: Guide to Freelancing in Film, TV, and Advertising
Storyboarding, or its predecessor, comic-book-like story sketches, is known to go back to silent films, but no examples of those have been saved. The earliest documented storyboards go back to Walt Disney in 1933. Wikipedia says, “According to Christopher Finch in The Art of Walt Disney (Abrams, 1974), Disney credited animator Webb Smith with creating the idea of drawing scenes on separate sheets of paper and pinning them up on a bulletin board to tell a story in sequence, thus creating the first storyboard. The second studio to switch from "story sketches" to storyboards was Walter Lantz Productions in early 1935. […] Gone with the Wind (1939) was one of the first live action films to be completely storyboarded.”
Today, practically every visual production takes advantage of storyboarding to plot its progress; to plan its key shots and how to get from one to the next: motion pictures, television and magazine advertising, video games. Even comic books are often storyboarded first. The Storyboard Artist is a manual from a veteran storyboard artist who explains, “As a professional, I understand that a good storyboard artist is not simply someone who is a good artist. There is much more involved. A storyboard freelancer is one who is capable of resolving problems and finding solutions while working on a script with other creative types such as art directors, copywriters, and movie directors. The storyboard profession entails much more than just possessing the ability to draw; therefore, this book will cover many other aspects of the storyboard profession.” (p. xi)
Note that Cristiano keeps referring to “the storyboard profession”. Like any profession, storyboarding has its tricks of the trade. The professional storyboard artist has to be able to do much more than sketch the plot of the production in comic-strip form, as Cristiano warns is a common misconception of what a storyboard is. “The storyboard is the backbone of a production, a tool that helps a director visualize the work he or she is going to produce. The storyboard provides the director with the opportunity to fine-tune a script before the shooting starts. This is advantageous to any director for preventing mistakes and wasted time.” (p. 2) Storyboarding is often used to save money and time on a production; to tell early which scenes are unnecessary and can be shortened or eliminated before production begins.