December 16, 2014

Final Cut Pro X Can Generate Storyboards for You. Here's How It's Done

Final Cut Pro X Storyboarding
I'm not sure about you guys, but I'm terrible at drawing. Even stick figures give me a hard time. It's embarrassing.

Unfortunately, storyboards are an integral part of the pre-production process for some people, which puts artistically-incompetent folks like myself at a major disadvantage when it comes to producing pre-visualization content. And even though there are loads of software solutions for creating storyboards out there, many of them are overly-complicated and too time consuming to be of any practical use. 

Luckily, Final Cut Pro X has a nifty, albeit relatively unknown feature that allows users to generate storyboards based on placeholder templates that have been preloaded into the software. Traditionally, this feature would be used as a placeholder for a missing shot in the edit, but the FCPX placeholder generator is actually versatile enough to be used as a storyboard builder. Here are the folks at Ripple Training to show you just how simple it is to generate basic storyboards, complete with animated camera movements, right inside of FCPX.

The presets that are loaded into the placeholder generator in FCPX are rather limited, so it's never going to be able to generate complex, detailed, and customizable storyboards without delving into Motion and individually manipulating each of the visual elements of the placeholder preset. When you add Motion into this storyboarding workflow, the possibilities are nearly endless. You can replace the backgrounds and other visual elements with your own images, and then manipulate them to your heart's content and publish the changes so that they can be tweaked directly in FCPX. At that point, however, you lose much of the simplicity that makes the FCPX storyboarding option so attractive. Even though there are countless possibilities, the amount of time that you'd have to spend in Motion to make detailed storyboards that are customized to your project might not be worth it in the long run.

Obviously this method is never going to replace a dedicated storyboard artist or some of the more robust storyboarding softwares on the market today. With that said, this method of storyboard generation can be an extremely effective pre-visualization tool for conveying the bare bones basics of any scene and for previewing how the different shots will cut together. Add to that the fact that this feature is quick, simple, and built in to a software that most of us already know how to use, and it's clear that it's a winner for generating basic storyboards.

What are your preferred methods for digitally generating storyboards? Let us know down in the comments!     

Your Comment

6 Comments

I agree with Robert that it seems rather limeted. For very straight forward stuff it might suffice, but anything remotely specific or unique you'll be left hanging. I personally prefer the good old fashion drawing; either in photoshop or in autodesk sketchup. For quick stuf I also quite like adobe illustrator.

December 16, 2014 at 12:32PM, Edited December 16, 12:32PM

0
Reply

You clearly missed the entire point of this. Bravo.

December 17, 2014 at 7:32AM

0
Reply

Now the NFS snarky comments are aimed at high school students?

December 17, 2014 at 4:53PM

10
Reply
Charlie K
1312

It's a great feature. I've used it to time out sequences to music and recorded dialogue for pre viz as well as handed off a clip of placeholders to a storyboard artist to generate the real deal. A very handy, built in function that can help time out a sequence before you ever shoot so you know what works and what doesn't.

December 16, 2014 at 2:52PM, Edited December 16, 2:52PM

0
Reply
avatar
Brad Jones
Director/Producer/Writer/Editor
500

I am not quite good in drawing, so I can tell that this is somehow a revelation for me. I love to organize my shots, but many times budget doesn't allow me to use dedicated storyboard artist.

Thanks guys for this great reveal of software I use every day, and I never dreamed about that placeholder can be used this way.

December 20, 2014 at 2:23AM, Edited December 20, 2:23AM

0
Reply
avatar
Bojan Andrejek
DP / Cinematographer / Producer
222

Just an FYI, you do not need "Apple Motion" to do the moving of individual storyboard characters. Simply insert a placeholder with only a background and then add your characters one-at-a-time on top of the background placeholder. Just be sure your characters have the background set to "none" in the inspector and also be sure they are placed on top of the background layer. You can then move the positions of each character that you add individually without all the messing around in Motion. Cheers!

February 19, 2017 at 3:12PM

0
Reply