Hands on with StoryBoard Quick 6

Keith White
25 January, 2013
View more articles fromthe author

StoryBoard Quick 6 is the entry-level version for a series of simple yet powerful digital storyboarding programs from PowerProduction Software. First launched in 1993 StoryBoard has been a favourite of many film directors and screenwriters over the years. It is extremely system-friendly, running on Mac OS systems back to 10.4 and with other requirements similarly undemanding.

On launching a new project you’re given a choice of formats including HDTV, standard TV, Web, Feature Film and Widescreen. There’s even a customised option.

The working area is nicely designed centred around the Frame Window. Floating content palettes include characters, interior and exterior locations and props. They are a bit reminiscent of clip art libraries, but that’s what they actually are. And if like me, you’re graphically challenged, being able to quickly knock up a scene without touching a pencil is a lifesaver. And remember this is the entry-level version. You’ll find a comparison chart of all versions here.

A colour palette gives pen and fill colours and also lets you change the colours of characters and props. Store characters whose hair, skin, lips, shirt, pants, and shoes you have recoloured in the My Character palette. The Caption Window is for you to enter or import text, including dialogue, camera notes and director’s instructions. Text in this window is completely editable.

If you choose to import a script SBQ6 will create frames for you if you specify a text trigger, for example EXT/INT. The Overview Window presents all your frames as thumbnails which you can rearrange at will. The Print Preview Window offers an impressive range of layout options.

The Main Toolbar gives access to these windows, navigates through your frames, resizes and rotates characters and props and alters the stacking order of your layers. The Draw Toolbar contains five Directors Arrows (in, out, across screen, zoom in, zoom out), as well as a speech bubble, standard drawing tools, text and crop tools.

Each character library contains three male and three female figures and other libraries can be purchased online. Characters come in a variety of positions, standing, walking, running, sitting and lying down in three elevations (high angle, eye level, low angle.) All characters and some props can be rotated and resized.

So, beginning with a blank frame choose a location, interior or exterior from your library, or libraries if you’ve been to the store! If you’re not happy with any of these you can import your own images or simply drag and drop into a frame. A wide variety of graphic file formats is supported. The Key Colour feature allows you to key out certain colours in your background (for example a blue sky) and replace it with something else, say a stormy sky.

Now place your characters into the scene and quickly adjust their size, position and pose. Similarly add and manipulate props, and use the drawing tools for anything else that is required. Add in the director’s arrows to indicate motion paths, and then finally pop in speech bubbles or write the dialogue in the caption window. Frame done.

If your next frame is substantially the same use the Duplicate function and make your minor adjustments in the copy. As your storyboard develops it’s really handy to have the Overview Window open to get the feel of the whole.

When you’re finished you can print your storyboard from a range of layouts to suit your purposes. If hard copy is not required you can print to PDF. You can export your storyboard as a Flash movie and specify the duration of each frame. Or you can export a single frame or a group of frames in a variety of common image formats. Or in HTML format for the web. Enough choices?

For those on the go there’s an iOS version. Storyboard Quick Direct. Use your iDevice camera to grab a location shot and rough out some ideas with a simple character library. Then upload to the PowerProduction Software cloud to bring your field work back onto your Mac where you can add more detail. Storyboard Quick Direct is AUD$20.99 from the iTunes store

StoryBoard Quick 6 retails at US$249 from the PowerProduction Software website. That might sound like a lot of money in these days of budget apps, but consider the alternative. A storyboarding budget can run into hundreds of dollars or more once you start getting into multiple revisions. And the main function of storyboarding is to get a concept out of your head into a visual format. Not every last detail is necessary, and SBQ6 makes it very easy to do adjustments on the fly without having to redraw the frame.

I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now for my documentary productions. I’ve been using text frames in Pages and creating my own crude icons to give a very rudimentary idea of what was going on. SBQ6 will allow me to get far more detail into my frames in less time.

In another project a valued client has been sending me his “storyboard” as a series of text instructions which I then translate into a clip-by-clip Final Cut Pro X project. We are currently on revision 10! For our next project I can see us sitting down with SBQ6 and quickly getting his ideas into visual format. Then two or three revisions in Final Cut Pro X. Purchase price of SBQ6 saved 10 times over!

One Comment

One person was compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Bill Lavenda says:

    I just got it and it rocks. It’s even better than he says…I can put shots together in no time!

Leave a Comment

Please keep your comments friendly on the topic.

Contact us