Let the tale unfold: storyboarding your video

Once upon a time, there was a company that wanted to produce a video. It owned a car dealership that specialized in high-end autos. The company’s CEO had marvelous plans. She wanted a sleek video that highlighted how progressive and innovative her company and her cars were. She wanted people to think about the words “wow,” “sophisticated” and “stunning” when they saw the video. She communicated this to a local video production company.

“We absolutely understand what you want,” the company said. “Let us handle it all. Don’t you worry about another thing.”

The CEO went away, certain that she was going to get a video that would be amazing. She thought it would be like one of those car commercials that show the latest trendy models zooming down an empty, well-lit city street late at night underscored by sleek jazz music. She was sure everyone would be talking about her company, thanks to the new video.

Everyone on her staff was certainly talking about it the day the production team screened the video at a company-wide meeting. The CEO wanted to crawl out of the room and lock herself in her office. What went wrong? The video company had assured her that her instructions were crystal clear.

Apparently they were looking at two different crystals.

Storyboarding brings everyone together on the same page.

The video production company’s idea of “wow”  and “stunning” didn’t involve a car zooming down a city street late at night. Instead, it involved a Bollywood dance number. With three elephants parading around cars bearing the company’s logo.  In hot pink neon lights, no less (somehow the CEO’s directive for “sophisticated” was lost in the development process). And it seems those elephants got a little feisty when the shoot dragged on and they hadn’t been fed or watered, so the CEO was also presented with a huge bill for damages to the rented studio space. She had agreed to pay for things like that without realizing it when she signed the contract that included a promise to reimburse the production company for “sundry related costs”.

All she wanted to do was sell a few more cars each month.

An overly-dramatic example? Yes. But not an impossible one.

All of this could have been avoided if the video company had taken the time to go through a process known as storyboarding with the client. In storyboarding, the video is laid out scene by scene for the client, either with verbal descriptions or with actual illustrations. Had the company in the scenario done this, the CEO could immediately have said, “I wasn’t thinking about having one elephant, let alone three in the video. Or dancers. Or pink neon signs.”

“Surprise!” is not the thing you want to hear when you’ve just made a commitment like commissioning a video. Storyboarding helps you avoid surprises. It’s a critical part of the pre-production process, and allows you to make tweaks and changes as needed early on, rather than waiting until the actual shoot to say,”Wait! This isn’t working at all!”

Make sure any video production company you work with takes the time to clearly define what’s going to happen in your video. This will save you time, grief, and the cost of repairing a studio damaged by wayward elephants. When you have a thorough storyboarding process right from the start, and know exactly what to expect, your tale is sure to end happily ever after.