Welcome back to another Back to Basics video. Today we’re talking about beat boards and why they could be the next tool in your storytelling toolbox. If you’ve followed my storyboard livestreams where I went through developing one of my original shows A.R.C., then you’re probably familiar with the reasons why we use beat boards. For those of you who missed out, here’s my brief summary.
Boarding is a process, that starts from receiving a script and ends with 500 to 800 panels of storyboards (I’m being generous, there are way more panels depending on the project). It can be really intimidating to start tackling that many drawings, or to figure out how you’re going to show story progression in your boards. Maybe you find it easy to start drawing, but you end up losing momentum or vision with every panel. In my workflow, I find it crucial to break down this process like this:
- Beat Boards
So what are beat boards? By my definition, they are visual boards and notes that describe a generalization of what is going on in your script. They are the broad stroke concepts of what is happening in the story. They take their name from the concept of story beats. When developing a script, story beats are points of action that occur in a basic story (definition from nofilmschool.com). Beat boards are visual story beats, in that they are only going to describe the main points of action in your script. In my A.R.C. boards, I supplement them with notes so that I can keep track of whatever it is I need to in the boards. Sometimes it’s a note on the location, or the page of the script that corresponds to the board.
Beat boards are visual boards and notes that describe a generalization of what is going on in your script.
Why are beat boards important to the process? I previously explained that when you create storyboards, you’re looking at over hundreds of panels just to get through one script. In my example, A.R.C. is an 11 minute pilot and in my experience that typically goes for 500 to 800 panels. Beat boards should only ever have a couple or so panels per page. My rule of thumb is 4 panels per page. It’s far more manageable and it allows you to focus on constructing story progression and your cinematics and staging.
Beat boards should only ever have a couple or so panels per page.
Do all storyboard artists use beat boards in their process? Not necessarily, as it depends on the project, the time and the intuition of the artist. Are they a great addition to your story toolbox? You can let us know on our social media @sketchtoanimate. I hope you enjoyed this Back to Basics video. Until next time!