When to CUT? Storyboard Commentary Video

Today's storyboarding commentary video talks about one of the most common questions about storyboarding: when to cut.

As you'll be able to see in the video, it's important to cut closer on a character or an action when they're doing something specific that really needs to be seen.

The video window above looks small, but if you click on the full-screen button (at the bottom right of the video), it'll look nice and BIG!

The general principle that I use is that I try to get as close as possible to show whatever is most important at that moment, while still leaving enough room for any actions that might occur in that scene.

Storyboard drawing: Car makes a U-Turn on the turnpike
That may mean that the shot is very wide -- for example: if I need to show somebody driving a car around the corner, the shot needs to be wide enough to see all of that action. If I'm trying to show a guy sitting in a restaurant drinking a cup of coffee, I would want the framing to include just the guy, the table, and the cup of coffee.

Storyboard art - Gerald talking on the radio
Cut from Gerald talking on a radio microphone to the broadcast tower, spreading his message across town.
It's all about how important the specific action is to a scene. If the man at the coffee shop is putting a couple of creams in his coffee, there is no need to make a special emphasis on that action; so I would not cut in closer on him pouring in the cream. But... if somebody was putting poison into his coffee cup, that's a perfect time to cut in on that action for emphasis.

Storyboard drawing - Old man in car listens to the radio
Cut from Grandpa sitting in car to a closeup of him turning on the radio
As you can imagine, this is a pretty huge topic! Since this series of posts is really a quick overview survey of my own personal process, there's not much time to go in to every detail... but if there's enough interest, I can always go back and make a specific post about any particular topic.

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