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The Value of Pre-Visualization & Storyboards!

A few weeks ago, Ben had the chance to speak to the students in the Media & Communication Bachelors of Science program at Full Sail University, thanks to professor & our favorite gaffer, Sara "Swany" Swan!

Ben discussed how we prep for shoots, and the importance of pre-visualization. Thanks to Swany, we are able to share that portion of the class with you! Check out the video & Ben's outline below.


As you all know, there are 3 phases to create anything in film:

  1. Pre-Production

  2. Production

  3. Post-Production

And honestly, the phase that most affects the quality of the final film is not the shoot or the edit, but the prep.

In Pre-Production, you get to do all the planning and research to add as much intentionality to your film as possible.

Part of this process is pre-visualizing your film as many ways as possible so that you are 100% confident in what you need and don’t need, AND that everything will cut together well in the edit. This helps you avoid overshooting and “fixing it in post.

All in all, production is expensive and you never have time on set to really think things through. Prep is where you can spend the time so you don’t have to waste time on set figuring out shots. 

Then, on set, you can reference the materials you made in prep and trust that the past you with endless time, had intentionality behind every decision.

Here are the different ways you can visualize your movie before you step onto set.

  1. An outline

  2. The script

  3. The shot list

  4. The storyboards

  5. The animatic (or animated storyboards)

At Oxenfree we do the following prep steps:

  1. First, we speak to the client in a discovery meeting and ask them a ton of questions about the intentions and mantras behind their business and how their product transforms the lives of their customers.

  2. Then, we listen back to the recording of the call and pull out all the quotable lines from the meeting

  3. With that information in mind, I start watching some films and videos that feel like the film I want to create and start pulling reference frames if anything that feels like our movie.

  4. Then I compile all of that into a thematic/tonal pitch deck with all the thoughts organized

  5. Then we’ll use that to structure a narrative script based on the real processes and customer stories they described to us in the discovery meeting

  6. For structure, I now use something called the Storyclock notebook and an excel template with some hero’s journey guidelines

  7. With that script, I’ll either make a shotlist or dive right into storyboarding

Once we have the storyboards completed, we add them to our production guidebook that we make for every shoot. This way our crew can easily see the storyboards and visuals we are trying to achieve in each shoot.


If your business is looking for a professional team to create and produce a film for you, let us know!


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