What’s a Storyboard and What's a Shooting Board

Storyboard artist Pablo Buratti talks us through the difference between these key pre-production tools

If you are both an illustrator and a cinema aficionado, storyboarding might be your calling. A vital tool in the pre-production stage of any audiovisual project, a storyboard depicts a film sequence, breaking down situations and actions into individual panels to show how they will unfold.

Pablo Buratti (@pabloburatti) is an illustrator working in the film industry. He is a storyboard artist working across character design, set design, concept design, and more. Pablo landed his first storyboarding job over fifteen years ago for Luis Sepúlveda’s film, Nowhere. It was after this that he became determined to make a career out of this way of fusing illustration and film. Since then, Pablo has worked on numerous projects, including Pedro Almodóvar’s four most recent feature films, from Broken Hugs (2009) up to Julieta (2016).

He has also worked with directors Álex de la Iglesia on the film Witching & Bitching and JA Bayona on The Impossible. Pablo has collaborated with Daniel Calparsoro for more than 10 years–beginning with a film called Ausentes (2005) and most recently working on To Steal from a Thief (2016). Here he explains the differences between a storyboard and a shooting board.

What’s the key difference between a storyboard and a shooting board?

In advertising, the difference between a storyboard and a shooting board comes down to their purpose. A storyboard visualizes the idea that the agency pitches to a client for an ad, while the shooting board is the director or DOP’s proposal for how to shoot the ad. Storyboards are graphic interpretations of the written script. It’s a visual aid.

In contrast, the shooting board shows how the camera will capture the sequence, specifying the different shots and frames. There are some very nuanced differences, which Paulo will help us to explore in more detail.

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A storyboard that has been created for an agency

Approaching the storyboard as an illustrator

When creating a storyboard for an agency, the idea is to approach it as an illustrator, without worrying about how it will be shot or having to transmit the technical information. The storyboard artist is not restricted by the camera setup. This stage is all about telling the story, illustrating the script, and visualizing the idea that the agency wants to pitch to the client. How detailed a storyboard is can vary from artist to artist, from idea to idea.

However, it will usually be more detailed and more colorful than the shooting board. As well as illustrated storyboards, you can also have photographic storyboards. Once approved, it will be passed on to the producer who will be in charge of the shoot.

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A storyboard that has been created for an agency

The technical side

When comparing a storyboard for a TV spot with a shooting board for the same spot, you will most likely notice a big difference in the level of detail. The storyboard will be much more detailed, while the shooting board will likely be a lot more roughly drawn, more sketch-like, probably with little or no color. The shooting board’s purpose is to tell the story and narrate the action with as little detail as possible from the perspective of the camera. It will show the framing of each moment and the camera angles and movements that will be used.

While a storyboard might show an entire situation in just one frame, telling the story in a very simple way, the shooting board takes these one-frame situations and elaborates them to show how each situation is going to be shot. Both the storyboard and shooting board will be similar in structure, given that they are following the script proposed by the agency; however, the latter comprises the director’s proposal of how to actually capture the story narrated in the script and storyboard, on camera.

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A shooting board for a commercial
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A shooting board for a commercial

If you would like to learn to visually interpret scripts for film and advertising, sign up to Pablo Buratti’s course, Illustration of Storyboards for Cinema and Advertising.

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