In terms of speed, convenience, and workflow, here is a roundup of some of our most popular storyboard apps. Which one is right for you?
If your film or video project calls for complex scenes, storyboarding is a smart move. Whether it's illustrations, graphics, photos, etc., storyboards essentially turn the script into a comic strip detailing the action from frame to frame. They help everyone involved understand how to approach the images of the project and allow a list of recordings to take shape.
Making storyboards a part of your preproduction process gives you the freedom to experiment. It simplifies the communication of new or complicated concepts and creates a consensus between the departments as well as between the director and the crew.
When it's time to build your storyboards, you can ensure their value to production by making sure they do four jobs:
- she Visualize the storytelling.
- she focus on the timing (or plot points) in keyframes.
- she Define technical parameters such as movement, camera and lighting.
- she Knock everyone down by showing that you are a world class illustrator.
Yes, the last one is not true. Not at all. And a lack of drawing skills often prevents people from including storyboards in their process. Don't fall into this trap.
Think you can't draw? I can't draw either. I was never skilled enough to properly storyboard in film school. And yet these days, I scribble at every storyboard app I can get my hands on, pumping out scenes and ideas like never before as my quarantine-inspired watercolor purchase picks up dust in the corner.
What to look for in a storyboarding app
A strong storyboarding app needs to check three boxes:
- Speed: You want quick sketching capabilities that only allow you to get one picture, plus more detailed options for complex shots that you need to plan now.
- Convenience: It's easy to get started and has your tools ready for every meeting, breakthrough, and unexpected lunch conversation.
- Flow: With the best apps, you can easily see how all the parts and scenes fit together.
Five great storyboarding apps in no particular order
Browse through the apps below to find the most suitable for your workflow. While they all have their pros and cons, they all have it where speed, convenience, and flow matter.
1. Storyboard animator
We have to start with the quick and easy storyboard animator. It has layers. Drag and drop functions. A clean, simple interface. A slideshow-like video will be created for you to view your work. This is the starter pack.
It is furnished with left and right windows. You can create backgrounds, centers, and foregrounds and drag these layers onto new boards. No redrawing this complicated background perspective! Layers that separate your characters from the background are crucial when starting your storyboard. Accidentally deleting something that you didn't want to delete is a real problem. It has simple colors, pen options, and shot flow layouts.
Due to my limited drawing skills, I consulted colleagues to test this particular app. In the end, the app's flow goes through even the most terrifying doodles. Just make sure to switch your phone to landscape mode horizontally so you can access the eraser.
2. Celtx recordings
For those using Celtx to write scripts, this is a natural next step! For me, Celtx Shots is bulky and not that quick to use. However, I feel that these are just my opinion and style and do not reflect the app's capabilities for the needs of others. So I still believe it deserves a place in the summary here.
It has picture and sketch options so you can view your layout of a scene in the form of a lighting diagram, storyboard, etc. The convenience of the app is its greatest strength. You can access your storyboards online and through the app, and the flow is exactly what a storyboard app should do.
3. Previs and Previs Pro
The free version of Previs (as in "previsualize") has two views – Director View and Diagram View – which is why it deserves the title of # 1 Free Storyboarding App in my opinion.
As a director, a best practice is to pick every detail and make sure it actually looks the way you imagine it before you even get to the camera test. This is a single point of contact for your cameraman, camera team, and audio team. Your lens choices, your lighting, your prop alignment – it's all included in the diagram and then displayed in the Director View. It's like paper dolls for work, which makes it the fastest storyboard app I've ever used. You can also import your script directly from Final Draft. Just a great tool!
The Pro version is $ 14.99 / month, $ 59.99 / year, or $ 199.99 / lifetime. You get access to all cameras, props and characters and can create unlimited projects and storyboards.
This application first rose to the top of my favorites list when I was using Augmented Reality mode. I have a thing for AR and VR so I had to make sure it was easy to use and not tricky. I can confirm that the AR mode is solid. You can use your phone to set up your recording and then set the placement and settings of your camera on the diagram / storyboard based on it. It's not difficult to switch between modes and I never felt slowed down by AR mode.
4. Shot Pro
I jokingly referred to this app as the Discount Cine Designer when I first saw it – not because of what it lacked, but because of the potential I saw in it.
At first glance, it seems too similar to Previs. Shot Pro does add movement to your storyboards, however. The more I played with it, the more I felt like I was playing Sims for Filmmakers. I love building my movie worlds from scratch and watching them move through each scene. The ability to add movement, while not that fast, is undoubtedly useful and impressive.
The Shot Pro app costs about $ 40. If you need to see your camera movements in the pre-visualization, it's worth it!
First of all, Procreate is (of course) at its core not a storyboard app. It doesn't have the amazing flow and chart options like Previs and Shot Pro. Sorting options and processes are not the strong point of this app.
Even so, its strength as a robust raster graphics editor made it more useful than some storyboard-focused apps. It's a convenient, complete art studio in one application. It's fast, intuitive, and has incredibly detailed scenes.
With Procreate, storyboards have the potential to get closer to art. I've always loved pouring over the storyboards of renowned filmmakers, and I'm determined to learn that skill. On a whim one day I pulled up one of my Previs scenes as a reference so I could try to scribble it myself in Procreate. It doesn't hurt to try, does it?
There was a significant difference in the clarity of my storyboard, and with my own hand it felt so much closer to my heart and my vision. Then I called up Shot Pro and practiced showing movement through the storyboard itself.
This method is completely limited by my own abilities. With the help of a combination of apps, I finally felt like I was conveying what was really on my mind. It was cathartic!
Undoubtedly, most app-made storyboards will not be as "pleasing to the eye" as those made by hand. Regardless, the goal of a good storyboarding app is to convey your artistic vision smoothly. Take some time to experiment with some apps and see if they can even briefly help you lose yourself in the joy of the creative process. Have fun doodling!
Want to learn more about storyboarding? Check out these tips, tricks, and techniques:
Cover picture via Solarseven.