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Tips for Developing Shot Lists and Storyboards from a Script

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 11/23/2010

Here is a look at how you should deconstruct the scenes in a screenplay into shot lists and then storyboards.

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    Using Shot Lists for a Video

    Using shot lists for a video is an important way of planning out exactly how you are going to end up shooting your project. Many film and video projects are hard to realize fully from a simple script. Many directors end up on set without a complete shot list for their video and are not able to put together a coherent scene or add anything interesting. To really prepare yourself for production it is important to make shot lists for a video, as well as to create storyboards. Both of these are going to work together to help you visualize your scenes before you actually produce them and will help to ensure a more successful final product. Here is a look at how to make storyboards and shot lists for a video, as well as how they should work together.

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    How to Make Shot Lists

    The first thing you should be considering is shot lists for a video. As you are working on these shot lists you will likely also be creating breakdown sheets for each scene. Since what you are doing is taking a closer look at each individual scene you will want to have both of these periods work together, so a detailed screenplay breakdown is what is going to take place. As you are doing this screenplay breakdown read your scene over and over again and begin imagining it as you would want it to appear. Think about how you want it to start, what position the camera will be in throughout it, where you want close ups, how you want to angle shots, and if you want them to move. Begin going through the scene in your head shot by shot, without leaving any out. Start writing those down in detail, with information about the framing of shot, the position of the characters in the shot, the type of shot it is, if it has any movement, and anything else. This list of shots will end up making up your entire visual scene, and this will be your shot list for that scene. You will continue through each scene in your script as you do a complete screenplay breakdown, and you will end up having a complete shot list for your video from that script.

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    How to Make Storyboards

    When you are looking at how to make storyboards you are really going to derive them from the shot list, as well as with reference to the screenplay itself and any materials from the screenplay breakdown. The director of photography will be working on these with you and there may also be a storyboard artist if one is available. Here you are then going to draw up quick sketches of what is on the shot list, adding to the image or taking away as needed. You will begin to have a much clearer visualization of how the scene is going to be composed, whether different shots are needed, whether more shots are needed, and eventually how you will begin wanting to work on art direction and directing the actors.

    Once these two documents are prepared you will then be ready to start blocking out your scene with physical rehearsals and altering the locations that you are filming in, depending on what each scene is.