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Make Optically Accurate Storyboards with FrameForge

As it is currently utilized, the storyboarding process was developed by Walt Disney Studios in the 1930s and is a vital tool in the film and television industry. Storyboards allow production teams to visualize the composition of a shot before production begins. However, the process has a tradeoff; drawing storyboards requires time and a skilled artist, while not having one creates the risk of wasting time on set looking for viable shots.

Applications like FrameForge solve this problem by making the storyboarding process easy while providing far greater technical information than hand-drawn frames.

Key Application Features

FrameForge is an Emmy-winning application that gives filmmakers a versatile 3D interface for creating virtual sets and actors. Build your scenes, include props, drag and drop 3D actors, create lighting schemes, and even insert a virtual camera for easy shot planning.

FrameForge’s Blueprint mode provides an overhead scene layout, allowing you to build virtual locations, manage multiple cameras, and arrange your compositions for optimal shots. Enter measured dimensions and add windows, doors, and furniture to create a virtual set that accurately matches the real-life counterpart.

3D actors are preprogrammed with multiple poses, physical attributes, motions, and facial expressions. They can be selected from a library and dragged into your 3D scene, and they are ready to use and interact with your virtual environments.

One of the application’s most powerful features is the virtual camera interface. It generates essential technical camera data that standard storyboards cannot provide and earns FrameForge a place as a critical asset in a filmmaker’s repertoire.

Planning Optically Accurate Shots

When drawing storyboards by hand, the director can devise any creative shot they can imagine, but this raises a question; is that how the shot will actually look? A beautifully drawn storyboard can quickly unravel on location when it’s discovered that the camera’s position, focal parameters, or set limitations prevent the shot from actually working.

FrameForge includes a toolset of controls to ensure that the logistics of the shot will work when the camera rolls.

The optical parameters dialogue box allows the creator to select the camera brand, format, and image aspect ratio. You can also limit the minimum and maximum zoom settings or restrict the camera to specific prime lenses.

The depth of field tab offers control over the lens’s focus. Once your camera and lens parameters are established, select the desired f/Stop, and enter the distance between the camera and the objects in focus. FrameForge will then provide information on the hyper-focal distance, acceptable sharpness range, and total depth of field.

The camera control panel at the bottom puts you in the cinematographer’s seat. Adjust the camera roll, pan/tilt, zoom, dolly, and crane positions with the push of a button.

If you don’t see your camera/lens on the list, you can create a custom virtual camera and match your technical specifications, simulating virtually any production camera. FrameForge keeps track of focal length, angle of view, camera height, and all parameters that impact shot composition.

The virtual camera becomes even more powerful if you have accurately recreated your set’s dimensions in blueprint mode. Insert your customized camera into your scene and plan your shots in a realistic simulation. Is that wall in the way? Do you not have the angle of view that you were hoping? It’s better to find out and create solutions in a virtual environment than on set when money and time are burning.

Creating Storyboards

Once you have built your virtual locations, placed your digital actors, set your lighting, and entered your camera parameters, it’s time to start creating shots and making the storyboard!

Creating a storyboard frame is as easy as looking through the camera view and selecting “Store Shot.” This will create a virtual frame grab of your scene and prompt you to enter the shot number and description (medium shot, close-up, etc.) and then post it in the shot manager layout.

In the shot manager, you can edit scene details, insert arrows and motion indicators, export the frame to an external photo editor, or even return to the virtual set to adjust the shot.

Rearrange shot orders by dragging and dropping frames, import scripts from popular screenwriting software or word processing applications, and even organize shots by sequential or shooting order.

Once you have composed your shot list, you can export or print your storyboards in a professional presentation format, complete with the frame, full scene details, and relevant camera parameters.

FrameForge also includes another storyboard tool called tweening. In animation, tweening is when you establish the first and last frame of an animation, and the computer will run a simulation to create transitional frames in between. This can be incredibly useful if you want to preview how a simulated shot would play out. To simulate camera movement in tweening mode, you determine the camera’s starting and ending position and enter the move’s duration. FrameForge will then render motion frames providing you with an animated preview of the moving camera shot.

Additionally, the digital actors in the application have tweening controls built into their programming. If you want an actor to walk from screen left to screen right, all you have to do is establish their starting and ending locations. FrameForge will automatically animate the actor walking across the scene based on the duration you set. If you determine a long distance but a short duration, a running animation will be triggered instead.

So not only can you create detailed and technically accurate storyboard frames, but you can also render out animations and edit together animatic shots, in essence previewing how your film will look and play out before you even begin production.

Distribute these storyboards to your crew for a smoother workflow, and discover any nasty surprises or limitations before showing up on set. With an application like FrameForge, you can accurately plan your project and save valuable time and money in a way traditional drawings don’t provide.

Broadcast Beat - Production Industry Resource