Today, video can help marketers do a lot of things — it can help you explain your product or service, it can increase traffic to your website, and it can even convince people to purchase a product.
94% of people watch explainer videos to learn about a product or service. Even if you have a powerful written content strategy, if you don’t use video, you’re losing traffic to more video-heavy competitors.
Your business is probably already using video marketing, but are you planning your videos for optimal success using storyboarding software? Or are you drawing shots by hands or writing a script and winging the rest?
In this post, we’ll go over what storyboarding is and cover some of the best storyboarding tools you can use to make better marketing videos.
What is storyboarding?
Storyboarding is the process of sketching out the progression of a marketing video, animation, or film. Each scene or shot is assigned a panel, and each panel includes a visual sketch or a photo of the concept. You can include dialogue, notes, audio, and more in each panel.
Storyboarding isn’t just for filmmakers and animators. Marketers can leverage storyboards to craft engaging marketing campaigns and advertisements.
The best part is that you don’t have to do it manually. A storyboarding software tool typically provides premade images and characters for you to bring your idea to life.
Whether you use video for training, sales, or demo purposes, storyboarding can alleviate the time-consuming nature of video preparation, while also increasing your video’s overall quality and decreasing production errors.
If you’re looking for a tool to take your video production process to the next level, take a look at our list of the best storyboarding software out there — no matter your budget.
Best Storyboard Software
Storyboarder is open source and free, making it one of your best options if you're working with a smaller budget. The program has a clean interface with all the necessary tools at your disposal, so it’s easy to quickly draw shapes and characters. You can also write dialogue, and enter timing information and shot type.
Storyboarder works collaboratively with Photoshop, which means you can edit your board in Photoshop for more precision, and it will automatically update in Storyboarder. This software lets you export to Premiere, Final Cut, Avid, PDF, or Animated GIF.
Adrian Thompson made animated videos for seven years, and “came to despise how tedious it was to edit a basic storyboard template.” His frustration led him to create Plot, a free and fast storyboard creator with impressive users such as Vistaprint and Workday.
Each feature aims to make your process as quick and efficient as possible. You can add and delete scenes without copying and pasting text, incorporate images from anywhere on the web to visualize scenes faster, and collaborate with coworkers from within the software. Plot is a solid option if your team often works under tight deadlines and needs software to create storyboards quickly.
With impressive users including HBO, Netflix, and BBC, FrameForge is the real deal, but your team can still benefit even if you don’t have animation, drawing, or highly technical computer skills.
FrameForge offers Core and Professional versions of their product. The Professional option allows you to plan where you’ll place dollies and cranes (down to the inch). The software lets you import a script from any scriptwriting program. Plus, the storyboards include movement arrows, framing notations, angle of view, focal length, and more, so everyone on your video team, from preparation to production, is on the same page.
It works on any mobile device, and the export functions make it possible to download the final product as a PowerPoint presentation. FrameForge is a good option for teams that aim to create more full-fledged and lengthy videos for entertainment purposes.
Studiobinder lets you customize every aspect of your visualization, and offers tools to filter columns, adjust the order of your scenes, upload images, change aspect ratios, color code shots, add notes, and more. Studiobinder also makes collaboration easy, with project management features to assign tasks and add comments.
Plus, if you want to preview your project from within the platform to show your team, there’s a nifty presentation mode. It touts impressive clients including BuzzFeed, ESPN, and CBS Interactive. This option is good for teams who need to collaborate on various stages of the video production process, and prefer customizable tools.
This online storyboarding software allows you to easily collaborate with your team in a user-friendly web app. You can add images to each storyboard card and jot down quick notes for each progressive step of your video. Specify sound, action, lighting, and camera details — all without any advanced technical knowledge.
The power of this tool lies in its ease of use. While Storyboarder and FrameForge have a slight learning curve, Boords is one of those tools that you can simply access and start using straightaway.
What we love most about this tool is its notes at the bottom for each card. If you ever forget what you’re supposed to achieve scene-by-scene, Boords gives you a brief and helpful tip on what you should achieve in the shot. It also offers a unique Animatic Tool, and when you’re ready to share your animatic, you can share it online for feedback or export to Boords’ After Effects plugin. Plus, you can share your storyboard with coworkers or clients and let them comment within the platform.
If you’re not necessarily interested in the fancier movie-making options in the list, makeStoryboard is a simple, user-friendly interface for quickly uploading camera shots, drawing stick figures in its built-in drawing tool, and incorporating text for scene details. The marker, pencil, and pen tools respond to any drawing tablet.
You can also add custom text fields for any additional details that are unique to your team and use case. When you’re happy with your storyboard, you can export it as a PDF to pitch your idea. Alternatively, you can send a private link so that stakeholders can review it without needing an account. Best of all, it offers a free subscription tier, making it a fantastic option for teams working with a smaller budget.
PowerProduction offers a variety of tools for storyboarding, varying from simple to more robust and all-inclusive. StoryBoard Quick, for instance, offers a library of artwork for characters, props, and locations, and allows you to design and share your ideas easily. StoryBoard Artist, on the other hand, offers a full-featured timeline, frame transitions, and 3D characters, and is more appropriate for animated video presentations.
PowerProduction also provides iPhone and Android app versions of their products, so you can visualize and create from anywhere. These products are used by big brands, including Disney, Universal, and 20th Century Fox, so if you choose this software, you’re in good company. If your team is interested in creating lengthy, high-quality, and even animated videos, this could be a good option.
Creating a storyboard doesn’t have to stress you out, and Canva makes it especially easy, with a library of templates to choose from, one million stock images (or the option to upload your own), and grids and frames to organize your scenes. You can choose font types, customize colors, and include headers and subheaders.
If you’re working with someone else on the script or design, you can grant access for collaboration, and when you’re finished, you can share the design with your team through email or as a PDF file. If your team needs a simple and easy tool for simpler projects or to get your feet wet with the process of storyboarding, this is a good option.
PanelForge offers an all-in-one pre-production storyboarding software, with drag-and-drop tools and flexible frames. With both a free public beta and a suite of paid plans, there’s no reason not to try it if you’re interested in using storyboarding for animatics and more complicated projects.
With PanelForge, you can create both 2D drawings and 3D layouts. It also allows you to create an animatic, and you can export and import files from Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro. PanelForge is ideal for experienced storyboarders and marketers who know their way around complex visualization tools.
StoryboardThat is an intuitive, easy-to-use tool for creators who’d rather not draw (or who don’t know how to). The tool comes with hundreds of backgrounds and characters for you to build your storyboard.
On the free version, you can create two storyboards per week and choose between three- or six-cells storyboards. When you upgrade to the paid versions, you’ll be able to create unlimited storyboards, access hundreds of different layouts, and record audio.
Use a Storyboarding Tool to Make Better Marketing Videos
A storyboarding tool can help you plan every shot and scene of your marketing video before you invest in production. The best part is that you can get started for free — and many times, you don’t have to draw anything at all. Using a storyboarding tool can improve your marketing videos exponentially, increasing the ROI from your video marketing strategy.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in June 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.