Depending on the source, either Howard Hughes, with the 1930 film, Hell’s Angels, or Walt Disney, with the 1933 animated film, Three Little Pigs, is cited as the father of modern day storyboards. In 1939, Gone with the Wind was the first live-action movie to be completely drawn out on storyboards.
Over the last 80+ years, the use of storyboards has grown, although it is a handmade work that means additional cost in a shooting. In the end it saves money, because it can replace a trailer shooting. Following the roots of animation and movie-making, storyboards are used by ad agencies for commercials, directors for plays, and artists for comics. Storyboards have also found their way into the business world for modeling how customers will interact with new products. Most of the drawings are done by artists that probably don’t really like the advertising world and this way of being creative, but who need steady revenues. This is the case with Tony Squance, a quite experienced artist, who has become an expert on storyboards and has created his own site to present his word: storyboardhell.
What is a storyboard?
It is a series of drawings used to “pre-visualize” films, music videos, commercials etc, so that the CEOs of companies, studio bosses and the like can see what the finished film will look like without spending too much money. Sometimes they are used to pitch an idea on the one hand, or on the other end to show the exact camera angles on every frame of the film so the director and camera people can set up without wasting too much time (time is money!), or sometimes a combination of both.
Why is it still necessary in modern digital time?
Because budgets are even tighter now, and the storyboard saves money. They are used for YouTube ads, and across most social media.
How do you draw them?
It depends on the type of board. In general I do them on a Wacom tablet with a large screen. I have a very specific process, and I use as many tricks as possible, but sometimes I draw them freehand on an iPad pro using Procreate, if say a lot of frames are needed.
How long does it take?
Depends on the number of frames, but generally between 24 and 48 hours, followed by agency changes before the pre production meeting.
Is storyboard telling a real profession?
It is a profession. It has little or nothing to do with contemporary art or fine arts in general.
What are the tariffs for storyboards?
Between 20€ and 70€ per frame, depending on the level of finish.
Which countries and sectors are your best clients?
UK, Germany, USA commercials, films of all types, TV series, and music videos.
What kind of studies does one need to do storyboards?
None, you need to have a creative talent and must be able to visualize ideas with drawings.
How did you get in contact with it?
I had a friend who was an art director in an ad agency back in the 90s. She said there was a shortage of storyboard artists, so I practised for 3 years until I landed my first job.
You are also an artist. How can you combine both things?
With difficulty. You have to paint when you can.
What brings you more money?
Storyboards at the moment, although I hope this will change.
Any advice for youngster that want to become a storyboard artist?
I would say don’t, but if you really want to, you should work obsessively in many aspects, learn the tricks, and don’t waste your money on expensive drawing schools.