Learn when to use a screenplay and when to use a storyboard

1. Before you begin

In these, we assume you have the intention to produce new content based on original footage that has been ingested by the camera assistant or data handler, or that you are repurposing existing archive material for the same purpose.

All feature are available in the trial account and in any type of subscription. We assume you are the production administrator, or that you have been granted access to manage screenplays and storyboards by the production administrator.

2. What are the main differences between a screenplay and a storyboard?

There is a lot of confusion and mixed feelings about what is a screenplay, a script, a scenario and a storyboard. Apart from the standardised 'Hollywood format', which is a rather stying convention, producers mostly develop their own method for creating a document that represents the content of an audiovisual product and that is intended to communicate with the edit suite, the subtitling department or any other stakeholder.

So, for the purpose of explaining which options you have using Limecraft, we provide the following definitions.

  • A screenplay is a document produced before the shoot by a screenwriter. It describes the scene, including the set, the characters and the dialogue fragments and possibly gives an indication how the scene should be shot. It is a text-based representation of the story. The typography of the text fragments allow the crew to make the distinction between the different elements, including scene descriptions, characters, dialogue snippets and comments.
  • A storyboard depicts the story, by placing a selection of available material fragments in the proper order. It is primarily a visual representation of the story, although it can contain text snippets as well.

3. So for which formats should you use a screenplay and when should you use the storyboard?

In general, it depends on the format and the point in the production process.

Per definition, in case you intend to produce scripted content like a television series or a feature film, there is always a screenplay or script prior to the shoot. It is used by pre-production staff to look for actors, locations and props, as well as by the director and the DoP to prepare each scene and point of view.  Later on, between the shoot and the edit, it is possible to use storyboards to support the final decision on what should go to the edit suite and what not.

Also per definition, in case you are producing unscripted formats like reality television or a documentary, you'll probably have a rough outline of the end result, but not a properly formatted screenplay as such. In these cases you'll typically start by searching in a large collection of source material, "spotting" fragments of possibly usable material and refining the selection during the iterative process of cutting and pasting using the storyboard. This process is sometimes referred to as "paper-edit".