Why a Journey Needs a Map

on August 16, 2011

I recently returned to Root after completing a sabbatical to work as a character animator on a Warner Brothers film. The studio I worked with (and the many others working on the film) had to understand the director’s vision so we could bring it to life.  Surprisingly, most of us never communicated directly with the director.  That’s right – thousands of people in part responsible for a $210 million project never ever met the project lead!  That’s a scary thought, but one Hollywood wrestles with every day.  So how do they make this communication possible and consistent?  Storyboards!

A storyboard is a collection of images assembled sequentially to communicate ideas and stories. It’s created to intentionally hit all the main beats of a story.  It creates the dots so the rest of the team can connect them and create the desired output.

Storyboards are so effective because, in large, they part mimic how the human mind communicates.  Think of the last dream you had.  Did you see the dream in words?  Of course not!  You dreamed in sequential images.  Think about your backyard growing up.  You will see a series of images in your mind’s eye that sort of re-create that space.  Your mind is building storyboards.  The evidence of the power of storyboards dates way back to some of the very first forms of human communication – cave paintings and hieroglyphics.

There are two main advantages to using storyboards. First, they allow us to quickly visualize and refine our ideas like a writer develops successive drafts of a story.  Second, they serve as the clearest language to align and communicate with a team.

At Root, we use storyboarding in almost every one of our projects. Whether it be digital or traditional, literal or metaphorical, sequential images or a single image harboring multiple ideas, our artists storyboard.

So – how is the production of a film like the challenges your organization deals with?

Have you ever found your company at a crossroads about what to do next, how to respond to the rapidly changing marketplace, or how to communicate new strategies to the rest of the organization? If so, it may be just the right time to take advantage of storyboarding to create the story you want to tell and the means to communicate it to the rest of your team.

Happy storyboarding!

Thinking

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