Live Action Storyboards

October 19, 2012  

Storyboard by Rodolfo Damaggio

Live-action storyboards

A live-action movie production will use storyboards as a reference for planning the compositions and scheduling necessary set pieces and equipment. More action-heavy movies will use storyboards to their full advantage and plan every camera angle and action. In most situations though, live-action storyboards are only used as reference, since much of the camera angles will be decided upon by the director and cinematographer on the set.

Staging indications may also change when the actors perform on the set. Because of this, live-action boards are most commonly used as inspiration, and not thought of as the final composition or staging for the movie.

This pushes the storyboard images to be more conceptual and rendered. Live-action boards may look like finished illustrations, requiring more time and detail to be added to the drawings.

Storyboard by Rodolfo Damaggio

The story artist will usually work from a completed draft of the script or work directly under the notes of the director.

The job requirement for the story artist is usually one of execution only, since there is little opportunity to deviate from the script or director’s notes.

The level of detail necessary will vary with each production, since every director will have their own requirements. It might be necessary to create continuity boards for a live-action project, but more often, shortcuts are used to create fewer drawings.

Live-action boards usually have arrows for camera and stage direction instead of multiple poses showing each beat.

Storyboard by Rodolfo Damaggio

Almost all live-action work is done freelance. Live-action feature-film storyboards are often the most coveted kind of storyboard work among freelancers, because the jobs generally tend to be longer-term work. Jobs can last from a few weeks to several months, especially on big-budget-effects films. That's means less time devoted to searching for work and more time drawing.

However, these gigs are mostly union jobs and finding work if you're not a union member can be frustrating, but not impossible. See our guide on Unions here.

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