Storyboards are graphic organizers in the form of Illustrations or images displayed in sequence for the purpose of pre-visualizing a motion picture, animation, motion graphic or interactive media sequence.
The storyboarding process, in the form it is known today, was developed at the Walt Disney Studio during the early 1930s, after several years of similar processes being in use at Walt Disney and other animation studios.
The storyboarding process can be very time-consuming and intricate. Many large budget silent films were storyboarded but most of this material has been lost during the reduction of the studio archives during the 1970s. The form widely known today was developed at the Walt Disney studio during the early 1930s. In the biography of her father, The Story of Walt Disney (Henry Holt, 1956), Diane Disney Miller explains that the first complete storyboards were created for the 1933 Disney short Three Little Pigs. According to John Canemaker, in Paper Dreams: The Art and Artists of Disney Storyboards (1999, Hyperion Press), the first storyboards at Disney evolved from comic-book like "story sketches" created in the 1920s to illustrate concepts for animated cartoon short subjects such as Plane Crazy and Steamboat Willie, and within a few years the idea spread to other studios.
According to Christopher Finch in The Art of Walt Disney (Abrams, 1974), Disney credited animator Webb Smith with creating the idea of drawing scenes on separate sheets of paper and pinning them up on a bulletin board to tell a story in sequence, thus creating the first storyboard. The second studio to switch from "story sketches" to storyboards was Walter Lantz Productions in early 1935, by 1936 Harman-Ising and Leon Schlesinger also followed suit. By 1937-38 all studios were using storyboards.
Gone with the Wind (1939) was one of the first live action films to be completely storyboarded. William Cameron Menzies, the film's production designer, was hired by producer David O. Selznick to design every shot of the film.
Storyboarding became popular in live-action film production during the early 1940s, and grew into a standard medium for previsualization of films. Pace Gallery curator, Annette Micheloson, writing of the exhibition Drawing into Film: Director's Drawings, considered the 1940s to 1990s to be the period in which "production design was largely characterized by adoption of the storyboard". Storyboards are now an essential part of the creation progress.
Some writers have used storyboard type drawings (albeit rather sketchy) for their scripting of comic books, often indicating staging of figures, backgrounds and balloon placement with instructions to the artist as needed often scribbled in the margins and the dialogue/captions indicated. John Stanley and Carl Barks (when he was writing stories for the Junior Woodchuck title) are known to have used this style of scripting.
In Japanese Manga comics, the word "nemu" (ネーム; modified Hepburn roomaji: neemu, IPA: [ne̞e̞mu͍]; the -u is devoiced) is used for manga storyboards.
Storyboards are now becoming more popular with novelists. Because most novelists write their stories by scenes rather than chapters, storyboards are useful for plotting the story in a sequence of events and rearranging the scenes accordingly..
Storyboarding is used in software development as part of identifying the specifications for a particular software. During the specification phase, screens that the software will display are drawn, either on paper or using other specialized software, to illustrate the important steps of the user experience. The storyboard is then modified by the engineers and the client while they decide on their specific needs. The reason why storyboarding is useful during software engineering is that it helps the user understand exactly how the software will work, much better than an abstract description. It is also cheaper to make changes to a storyboard than an implemented piece of software.
One advantage of using storyboards is that it allows (in film and business) the user to experiment with changes in the storyline to evoke stronger reaction or interest. Flashbacks, for instance, are often the result of sorting storyboards out of chronological order to help build suspense and interest.
The process of visual thinking and planning allows a group of people to brainstorm together, placing their ideas on storyboards and then arranging the storyboards on the wall. This fosters more ideas and generates consensus inside the group.