Saturday, 14 May 2011

Bitstrips for storyboards

Given my interest in film-making, it was almost inevitable that it would occur to me to use Bitstrips for Schools, the excellent cartoon-strip making app, as a tool for storyboarding. It is possible for individuals to sign up for a free account through Bitstrips, but none of the class management tools are available.
Bitstrips allows for careful planning of position and expressions and makes creating fairly sophisticated storyboards quite straightforward, fairly quick and with no drawing ability needed. Other images can be uploaded as backgrounds, including, as in the example below, screenshots and photographs. If PNGs with transparent backgrounds are used, then photographic images can be used as objects, although, of course, not rotated. This image upload facility is not available for individual accounts. You appear to be limited to a maximum of nine frames to a comic but there's no reason why a longer film shouldn't be divided into parts/pages. 
The smaller frames have portrait orientation, which appears at first to be a drawback for composing frames, but in practise the top and bottom of frames are often used for speech or directions.  It is possible to copy and paste arranged figures from one frame to the next. Currently it isn't possible to group objects and copy/paste them, though this would be useful, especially where there are a collection of props and furniture that have taken some time to arrange.  Objects can be rotated, making it possible to simulate camera angle and all objects can be scaled, allowing for a range of framings to be created.

For more sophisticated use, such as where mise en scene is being studied, there are a small but useful range of filters such as contrast and saturation and wider frames are available. In the example below, backgrounds have been blurred and darkened and (in the final shot of the gamer) colour has been enhanced to emphasise his excitement.  I have chosen to display it as a slideshow here but this strip would print out on one A4 sheet.
This storyboard was actually created after the film was made and has now been added to The Gamer scenario and project outline.