Producing perfect: from storyboard to screen

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Video is everywhere. From the screens in our pockets to the roadside billboards we see for a second as we fly past, the marketing world is full of motion trying to engage us. 

Brands are quite literally jumping up and down to get our attention. But in trying to stand out from the crowd, video production can become increasingly complex, stressful or revert back to following the mould. So when faced with the challenge of creating an audience-engaging, eye-catching, brand-enhancing video, where else to turn but to pre-production. Seems an underwhelming solution, right? The admin, the runsheets, the meetings? Really? But with that time, that team and that tactical attention to detail, the possibilities in production are endless.

For the uninitiated, pre-production is the planning stage of a video project. It occurs before filming begins and involves everything from scripting and storyboarding, to location scouts and lighting plans. It is the preparation time. The thinking time. The time where challenges are uncovered, doors are opened and the video starts to take shape. Pre-production allows the team to discover everything a video can be, and then guarantees the outcome. Steven Spielberg didn’t just go back in time and film a T-rex for Jurassic Park. And the crowds in Carlton Draughts iconic ‘Big Ad’ were not just wearing brand colours coincidentally. There was a guy in the chair. Or rather, a team. A team of planners, researchers, thinkers and creatives, who make these things happen, from the initial idea to the logistics of execution.

The first stage of pre-production is story. Whether it’s developing a script or sketching up a storyboard, a little creative time turns a basic idea into a tangible thing. When Village Cinemas launched their new experiential concept cinema ‘4DX’, the cinema didn’t even exist. But having nothing to see or film, never stands in the way of a great production. The initial idea was realised in a detailed storyboard. This storyboard formed the basis for all following production – the custom built set, the production design, the visual effects. Layer upon layer, the details were refined until a complete, unique communication emerged.


From storyboard to set build, 4DX was conceptualised from the ground up. Check out the full video here.

After story comes technical logistics, where the concepts become reality. How do we actually make our storyboard come to life? At Leica Biosystems, the experts developed a machine that improved the day to day efficiency of a working laboratory through automation. Showing 24 hours of efficiency with only an 8 hour shoot allowance was a challenge the team took on with tenacity. Time-lapses were planned to show the passage of time, so cameras were set in place and sets were arranged to allow seamless edit points. Repeat actions were identified, resulting in a run-sheet that focussed on building usable puzzle-pieces of video that could be arranged and rearranged in the edit. And the resulting product was nothing short of impressive. You’d never have guessed it wasn’t 24 hours of filming.

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Representing 24 hours of time, with only 8 hours of shoot allowance, is no mean feat. Check out the full video here.

The last element of pre-production is brand. Brand presence in motion is a balance of subtlety and recognition. Elements should build together to form a noticeable brand look and feel, but shouldn’t overwhelm or detract from the message. Careful, considered application is important. During the pre-production phase of the extended UniSuper campaign the team dove into the nitty-gritty, curating a video that was branded from ‘Take 1’ to ‘That’s a wrap’. Stylists planned a wardrobe in brand colours and scouts found a location that allowed the UniSuper building presence in the background. Even the sunrise was planned for, allowing those warm rays of early morning to act as the orange elements of the teal/orange colour grade.

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The skilled team on the UniSuper Ease project planned everything from shirt colour to sunset. Check out the full video here.

From sketch to set, pre-production creates possibilities and the power it should never be underestimated. With a team of brains and some time to think, any video can go from good to great. And while surprises cannot be entirely avoided on set, pre-production ensures most challenges are solved before the day, so any new ones can be met head-on. So, next time you’re planning a video, who’s going to be your guy (or girl) in the chair?



Experienced across design, animation, illustration and digital design, Shan is uniquely adaptable in her creative approach. From script writing to hand crafted animation, she loves everything motion.


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