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allabulle
05-13-2013, 10:24 AM
I was wondering what software does our community use to layout our storyboards (animated or not).

I'm specially interested to find software that runs on GNU/Linux, but other operating systems are fine.

So there you go: What software do you use to make your storyboards? Thanks in advance for any contributions, guys (and gals)!

allabulle
05-13-2013, 02:12 PM
OK, besides some Photoshop scripts, or templates, I'll be posting what I find worth of considering to my needs. Here are the first alternatives.

Toon Boom Storyboard (and Storyboard Pro):
http://beta.toonboom.com/home-users/storyboard
https://www.toonboom.com/products/storyboard-pro

Krita:
http://krita.org/index.php

Megalodon2.0
05-13-2013, 02:15 PM
And there is FrameForge Studio:

http://www.frameforge3d.com/Products/

bazsa73
05-13-2013, 02:47 PM
I draw on paper, well sometimes yes. And I use markers also.

vncnt
05-13-2013, 02:48 PM
OpenOffice

allabulle
05-13-2013, 03:46 PM
Thanks for your inputs, Megalodon and vncnt. I'll take a look at both.


Paper is not software, right? :) We use paper too, bazsa73, but we are searching for a more agile way to work. We sometimes scan our drawings and then animate them using a video editor or even Lightwave; or we compose a mixture of drawings and CGI with Photoshop and the likes. I wonder how others do their storyboards and animatics.

I guess 2D animation software is worth looking into as well.

If anyone else has some other alternative please chime in.

BigHache
05-13-2013, 05:05 PM
I will either draw on paper, or draw directly in PS. I arrange my boards (currently) in InDesign. I've only done animatics in AE or an editing program. I just haven't felt that specific storyboard software really lent much to my benefit, but maybe I haven't studied it enough and my current system isn't broken.

Greenlaw
05-13-2013, 06:24 PM
I use Toon Boom Storyboard Pro. It's a bit expensive but I bought a few years ago when they had a really decent sale. At one time I thought even the entry level version of Toon Boom Storyboard was too expensive but after I tried it out, it wasn't long before I found myself upgrading to the pro version. At each time of purchase, Toon Boom made an excellent discount offer which pretty much sealed the deal for me.

The main strength in TBSBP is its freeform layout and editing environment--you can easily shuffle shots around and have the name/number sequence update dynamically, which is a huge timesaver. Also helpful is the library and layering system that makes it easy to track, reuse and modify elements you've already drawn for other shots. For final output, you can export a .pdf an any of several industry standard formats, and you can load audio and output an animated animatic based on the timing data you entered.

Yes, you could do any of the above using multiple programs you may already own but I've never seen the specific task of storyboarding so well considered and handled more efficiently than in this single application. During my time with the Box, I had storyboarded a few lengthy 'short film' projects and, looking back, I really wish I had this program from the beginning.

I created a short article on our website for how Toon Boom Storyboard Pro was used in 'Happy Box' (http://www.littlegreendog.com/studio/sessions/003/sessions003_001.php). This was a short, 'simple' project to use TBSBP with but our current production is a much longer piece (about four minutes) and TBSBP helped make preproduction a quick and painless process.

I need to add that I've only run this program on my Tablet PC, which has a pressure sensitive Wacom pen and touch screen, and I don't think I'd like it it nearly as much if I was using it with a mouse.

The version of Toon Boom Storyboard Pro I use is 2.0. I noticed recently that it's up to version 4.0. I'm not sure what's in the new version yet but I will probably upgrade before I do my next paying storyboard gig.

Prior to TBSBP, I simply printed out my storyboad template from Adobe Illustrator, drew all my panels on the temple with pencil and markers, scanned each panel individually and laid them out in AI again and entered my script notes. This worked okay but it was tedious whenever I decided to or was asked by the director to make changes to the boards.

And before that, I drew my boards on index cards. I used a physical stencil template I made to draw the box for the drawing panel on the cards. This system worked well for me for a few years but it required a lot of wall space when discussing the edit with clients/coworkers. This worked was very traditional method and it was great for group discussions but it wasn't portable nor very convenient for sharing. I'm not sure anybody still does it like this in this day and age.

Anyway, ever since I've been using TBSBP, I've never wanted to go back to drawing my boards any other way.

G.

Ryan Roye
05-13-2013, 07:23 PM
I use Lightwave to storyboard character animation (only when needed). I used to use a sketchbook for that purpose, but now I reserve it for concept work for when new assets are needed.

Baba
05-14-2013, 02:58 AM
Take a look at TVPaint. I use it for all my storyboards and animatcs (and a whole lot more :)).

Greenlaw
05-14-2013, 09:05 AM
Prior to TBSBP, I simply printed out my storyboad template from Adobe Illustrator, drew all my panels on the temple with pencil and markers, scanned each panel individually and laid them out in AI again and entered my script notes. This worked okay but it was tedious whenever I decided to or was asked by the director to make changes to the boards.
Actually, this example illustrates the strength of TBSBP very well. If I was asked to make a change, like re-order shots, I would simply drag the panels around and the entire storyboard will reflow automatically throughout the document with revised shot/scene numbers. If I needed to delete or insert a new scene or sequence, same thing. Renaming can be done selectively, of course, because at a certain stage you obviously don't want shot numbers changing arbitrarily. During preproduction, however, this is a huge help in organization. Apart from drawing and organization tools, the program also has camera direction tools and simple animation, so generating an animatic on-demand is very easy.

The one thing I don't like is that the timeline interface is a bit weak. It's pretty clunky compared to what you find in most video editors, so if I need to do anything complicated, I'll export a video, drop it into a real editor and make additional changes. Not a perfect workflow but it's still quite efficient. (I wish everything in production worked this quickly and efficiently.) ;)

G.

Note: As mentioned earlier I'm referencing 2.0--it's possible that the curent 4.0 has a better timeline GUI but I don't know.

wesleycorgi
05-14-2013, 09:14 AM
For blocking out story ideas, I've used Celtx. I believe this is GNU/Linux.

bazsa73
05-14-2013, 10:17 AM
Thanks for your inputs, Megalodon and vncnt. I'll take a look at both.


Paper is not software, right? :) We use paper too, bazsa73, but we are searching for a more agile way to work. We sometimes scan our drawings and then animate them using a video editor or even Lightwave; or we compose a mixture of drawings and CGI with Photoshop and the likes. I wonder how others do their storyboards and animatics.

I guess 2D animation software is worth looking into as well.

If anyone else has some other alternative please chime in.
Damn, you are right! :D

Sekhar
05-14-2013, 10:34 AM
You could also try Poser...pretty easy to set up and do sketch renders. See example sketch I created with Poser Pro of our lead confronting her pet dinosaur. :)
114340

allabulle
05-17-2013, 01:05 PM
Hi, thanks everybody for all the suggestions.

We're trying a few to see what's the best solution to our needs. As Greenlaw suggests, I think TBSBP is probably the best out there, and we're paying attention to TVPaint too. A bit expensive, though.

I'm also trying Krita to see if that does the trick for now.

vncnt
05-20-2013, 02:58 PM
If I was asked to make a change, like re-order shots, I would simply drag the panels around and the entire storyboard will reflow automatically throughout the document with revised shot/scene numbers. If I needed to delete or insert a new scene or sequence, same thing. Renaming can be done selectively, of course, because at a certain stage you obviously don't want shot numbers changing arbitrarily.

As far as I can see OpenOffice (the PowerPoint module: Impress) does that too.
Sketch in Paint, drag the image file with Shift+Ctrl to the empty page to link that image on that page to the file (so it will be updated during loading), add text on top of images, add notes to that page, re-arrange pages (shots) within the presentation (scene). Disable pages. Print hand-out. Export PDF. Present pages on screen#1 and notes (and next slide) on screen#2.
If you keep 1 scene in 1 presentation file, the page number = shot number.
I donīt mind that text is not linked to a certain page because a picture has a fixed meaning.

For animated storyboards I drag the images to my NLE, Vegas Pro, set the timing for each clip, sync with audio, set markers and ranges, etc.

For blocking I then make a new track with background photoīs or video.
For each media event on the timeline I activate my (free) homemade script "LW-link" and it will create a LWS file with that photo/video/audio event with matching Camera/Scene settings, handles and markers.
From now on you can import blocking objects, add geometry objects, etc.
Render a test AVI, save scene&objects, close Layout to return to Vegas and voila: your AVI has been added to that media event as a new Take.
Press play and watch your new shot.
LW-link also "talks" to SynthEyes, Fusion and Reason. For easy acces of related project files. It generates Fusion comps based on rendered images sequences. LW-link also can send the related LWS to ScreamerNet, after modifying pre-defined parameters that can be loaded/saved as render presets.

Paint is free. OpenOffice (with Impress) is free. LW-link is free.
Of course Vegas Pro is not.

dsol
05-20-2013, 03:37 PM
If you have an iPad, then Stu Muschuwitz's setup - using Penultimate, with custom templates - works really well. I love sketching boards on the train, in the pub etc. :)
http://prolost.com/blog/2011/6/15/what-i-do-with-my-ipad-part-1-storyboarding.html

allabulle
05-21-2013, 03:47 AM
I may as well end up buying Vegas Pro. We're used to edit in another software, but vncnt workflow (and his great scripts) sounds excellent indeed. Also, I was puzzled when OpenOffice was mentioned, forgetting about it's modules. We'll give that a try too.

Thanks again for all the suggestions, everybody!

- - - Updated - - -


If you have an iPad, then Stu Muschuwitz's setup - using Penultimate, with custom templates - works really well. I love sketching boards on the train, in the pub etc. :)
http://prolost.com/blog/2011/6/15/what-i-do-with-my-ipad-part-1-storyboarding.html

No iPad's here, but that app looks really nice.

allabulle
05-21-2013, 03:50 AM
For blocking out story ideas, I've used Celtx. I believe this is GNU/Linux.

That caught the attention of my colleague (and mine to some extent too). But alas, only cloud? (I could be wrong, I only checked after long hours of hard work).

wesleycorgi
05-21-2013, 04:23 AM
That caught the attention of my colleague (and mine to some extent too). But alas, only cloud? (I could be wrong, I only checked after long hours of hard work).
I haven't downloaded a new version in a few years, but I think you can get the free desktop app version here:
https://www.celtx.com/desktop.html

Oh and I more recently grabbed the iOS version.

allabulle
05-21-2013, 05:23 AM
Really? Wow, I WAS tired. Thanks, wesleycorgi, I'll give it a try too.

Netvudu
05-21-2013, 06:11 AM
For animatics (not storyboards) I would seriously consider Source Filmmaker by Valve. Itīs free and it allows for some cool stuff such as Auto-lip sync for characters.

allabulle
05-21-2013, 12:30 PM
Well, I'm looking into animatics too, so thanks, Netvudu, I'll sure check Source Filmmaker.

vncnt
05-31-2013, 08:19 AM
For animatics (not storyboards) I would seriously consider Source Filmmaker by Valve. Itīs free and it allows for some cool stuff such as Auto-lip sync for characters.

Lip sync in animatics?
Isn't that a waste of time?

Spinland
06-08-2013, 07:20 AM
Amazon is working on a storyboarding solution you can try right now.

http://venturebeat.com/2013/06/07/amazon-launches-storyteller-to-turn-scripts-into-storyboards-automagically/

(Comes with a lot of caveats and you have to use their Amazon Studios but it's still a relevant path in this context.)

Greenlaw
06-08-2013, 10:35 AM
For previs (as opposed to animatics, which is typically just the storyboard art put on a timeline with some limited camera animation and fx applied,) I just use LightWave. This way, I have something to base my cameras on when I start working on actual production shots.

Of course, this assumes the cameras were properly placed and in proper scale for the previs--this is important because reasonably accurate camera placement can save you a ton of time later, on the live set, in 3D scene, or both as the case may be.

G.

Surrealist.
06-08-2013, 02:05 PM
I like this:

http://www.pencil-animation.org/

Greenlaw
08-31-2013, 03:13 AM
Tonight I upgraded to Storyboard Pro 4--installing it now. Lots of scene/panel management improvements and ability to import and manipulate 3D objects. I'm mainly upgrading for the improved project management features (Storyboard Pro's key strength,) but the new 3D animation is a feature I can use on the this year's Gothtober project I'm storyboarding now.

Will write more about the upgrade once I dive into it.

FYI, the software is on sale now for $399 as part of Toon Boom's 'Student pricing for Everyone' campaign. This is actually cheaper than upgrading from Storyboard 3 Pro, so I wound up buying a new license rather than upgrading my old one. The sale ends tomorrow.

Their animation program Toon Boom Animate Pro 3 is also on sale. I didn't bother to upgrade our TBAP 2 one because the normal upgrade price is cheaper than the sale price. We might upgrade eventually but we're giving Anime Studio Pro a shot for the Gothtober project.

G.

chikega
08-31-2013, 08:37 AM
Take a look at TVPaint. I use it for all my storyboards and animatcs (and a whole lot more :)). Yeah, I used to use Newtek Aura, then upgraded to Mirage. I stopped there. It was too confusing with different owners and who owned the technology and such. TV Paint looks nice though. :)

Greenlaw
08-31-2013, 10:00 AM
Hmm...already found a bug in version Toon Boom Storyboard Pro 4. If you use a tablet PC and have the Tablet PC Input service active, you can't drag layers; disable the service and it works fine. This could be a problem for tablet PC users like me who use the stylus for text input. I found a couple of other users with the same problem with different makes of tablets. This worked fine in version 2 so hopefully it will get fixed soon.

Oh, well--I can attach a keyboard to the tablet so I can still use it. Will forge on.

I did dig into the manual a bit last night. Looks like they improved the audio editing capabilities quite a bit. I used the built-in animatics feature in version 2 for a couple of projects, and felt the audio editing was the weakest point--curious to see how its improved now. Also, being x64 bit now, version 4 should be able to play back its animatics more smoothly than in version 2.

On a separate note, I got a storyboard program for my Android tablet a couple of weeks ago. I purchased this tool mostly out of curiosity because it was really cheap but it looked like it might be pretty good. It could be a practical alternative for artists on a tight budget who don't need the complexity of TB SBP. I'll check it out this weekend and write what I think.

Stay tuned.

G.

Greenlaw
09-02-2013, 05:27 PM
Been using the new Storyboard Pro 4 this weekend.

Immediately ran into a bad bug--on my Tablet PC, I can't drag position layers unless I disable Tablet Input services. Unfortunately, this means I can't input text unless I convert from tablet mode to laptop mode, which gets really tedious and annoying because I like to use a browser for research while I'm drawing my boards. This issue seems to only affect tablet PC's with a Wacom penabled touch screen like my tm2.

Storyboard Pro 2 did not have this problem so hopefully Toon Boom can provide a fix soon.

I still needed to get work done this weekend so I transferred my license to my workstation, which has the small 12 inch Cintiq. I wondered if the problem would pop up there too but so far the software is running fine there. if there was a problem with Tablet Input, it wouldn't matter as much on the workstation since it has a keyboard of course. For the time being, this will work for me but it's not really a solution because I frequently work offsite using the tablet PC.

Apart from that, the Storyboard Pro 4 is working out well. The 3D is really just okay. It's not as easy to work with as LightWave but it does open interesting possibilities for animatics. I wish it had a good 'pen and ink' renderer like Manga Studio has for imported .lwo. Anyway, I decided not to use 3D for this pahse of the project because I don't have much time preproduction--need to start animating this week. The new drawing tools are pretty neat and some workflow improvements are appreciated. Overall though, I think this was a pretty expensive upgrade for what I got, even with the discount.

But if they can fix the bug described above, I'll be happy. :)

I'm about to add the music track and some dialog audio. This area is supposed to have seen improvement in version 4, which version 2 really needed. Will report on this later.

IMO, the program is probably overkill for users who just need to knock out a quick storyboard but for the automated scene management system really is quite nice for longer projects, and IMO it's the main reason to use SBP 4.

Regarding the Android based storyboard program I mentioned the other day--it's called Storyboard Studio. I've only dabbled with it so far and it seems pretty straightforward. It's not as deep as Storyboard Pro for management of panel/sequence/acts, but then again, it's running on a cheap Android device (I have a first gen Nexus 7) and the software only cost as much as a really cheap lunch. It might be ideal if you need something 'on the go' and you don't want to spend a lot of money. I'll try to post more practical info when I have a little more time to work with it, but for now I really need to finish the boards I'm currently creating in SBP 4 first.

Stay tuned for more info.

G.

Greenlaw
09-20-2013, 05:10 AM
This week Toon Boom released a service pack for Toon Boom Storyboard Pro 4. Version 4.1 fixes the layers bug that occurs when Tablet Input is active--this mainly affects users who have a multi-touch Wacom Penabled Tablet PC like I do (mine is an old HP tm2.) It also affects users who have a recent Cintiq, but probably less so since Cintiq users are likely to have a keyboard nearby.

Anyway, I finished the storyboard our latest Little Green Dog movie and we've started animating it this week. If you liked 'Happy Box', watch for our new film 'Scareplane', premiering next month at Gothtober. I'll make a formal announcement as our air date approaches.

BTW, I used TBSP 4 to generate the animatic as well the storyboard, and the animatic turned out great. Funny thing: I've sort of already 'animated' some of the hard bits in the short using this program. You'll see what I mean when we release the animatic with other 'behind-the-scenes' stuff after the event. :)

G.

allabulle
09-20-2013, 05:36 AM
Thanks for your inisght Greenlaw. I look forward to that animatic and the behind-the-scenes stuff. :)

jwiede
09-21-2013, 12:58 AM
Another package that I've used for storyboarding is Celsys-ne-SmithMicro's MangaStudio. I find the same things that make it such a good package for 2D comic/manga artwork also make it quite useful for storyboarding (I find significant overlaps between storyboarding and comic-style artwork). Just another suggestion.

Greenlaw
09-21-2013, 07:02 AM
Oh, yeah, Manga Studio is really good--I use it for, well, comics. It's strength is in its vector tools and comics specific tools like panel/balloon formatting and managing multi-page documents. I got the recent edition which finally adds a lot of color tools but I haven't switched to using color in my comics yet. (The few color comics I've done (http://www.littlegreendog.com/comics/streams/streams004/streams004.php#.Uj2NDT9D3ms) were colored in other programs like, uh, Colors! on the Nintendo DS Lite. Seriously.) :)

But I can see where the tools will lend themselves to storyboarding too.

For storyboarding, I still prefer Toon Boom Storyboard Pro however. The main strength of TBSP, is its shots/panel/sequences/act management features. IMO, there are few programs out there that do it the way TBSP does, none do it as well as TBSP. The system automatically names your shots for you as you draw them, and you can rearrange and regroup them (by shots/scenes, individual panels, sequences, or by Acts,) by dragging, dropping and merging. The system can renumber and rename panels/sequences for you or you have tools available to rename/renumber by groups. This feature is incredibly powerful, especially for larger projects. Like Manga Studio, it has tools specific to creating for its intended media, like visual camera instructions that change dynamically. The storyboard printing system is all set up output documents layed out in industry standard formats, and there are even limited animation tools so you can output an animatic quickly. This last feature is also helpful for interactively entering timing instructions on the panels by dragging clips on a timeline and using playback to check it out--the duration of the panel or sequences of panels is then automatically entered in the panel data for your print outs.

I won't say it's the perfect storyboard program though--there are a few things about it that make me nuts. For example, some data input fields require way to much clicking and typing, where spinner type of buttons would work much more efficiently. The animatics feature is probably the program's weakest feature--the timeline is a bit crude compared to other non-linear systems I've worked in and it doesn't let you work very quickly, which is odd considering how focused on productivity other parts of the program is. That said, I still find this feature quite useful for what I do--I just think it should be better--a lot better. Another weak point is the recently added 3D support. You can import 3D but manipulating and positioning the objects is awful and the render quality is just 'ho-hum'. (For a 2D program, Manga Studio EX does it better and its NPR rendering is very nice too.)

Overall though, TBSP is very efficient for what it's designed for--creating storyboards for large productions. The Pro version may be too expensive to many users but I started out using the cheaper $99 version and I thought that was pretty decent too. I boarded the original Act I of 'B2' with it and a few productions at the Box with it. The standard version lacks the animatics feature but you can still output panel art for dropping onto a traditional video editor. (That's what I used to do back then.)

I eventually moved up to the Pro version when it was on sale a few years ago and have created all my storyboards with it ever since. Recently, it was on sale again for $399. If you do a lot of storyboards, I think it's well worth that price. If you create storyboards for a living--especially for large scale productions where you're expected to make frequent changes and PDF outputs--you'll make back the full cost very quickly and have more time for yourself to enjoy other things. :)

G.

allabulle
09-21-2013, 07:10 AM
Another package that I've used for storyboarding is Celsys-ne-SmithMicro's MangaStudio. I find the same things that make it such a good package for 2D comic/manga artwork also make it quite useful for storyboarding (I find significant overlaps between storyboarding and comic-style artwork). Just another suggestion.

We're looking into MangaStudio too. It looks pretty good for our purposes as you mention.

Greenlaw
10-07-2013, 11:02 PM
Quick followup for my Toon Boom Storyboard Pro issue: that weird 'permissions' problem I was having (TBSP wouldn't open or save files in the My Documents folder on my Tablet PC,) turns out to have been caused by an overly aggressive anti-virus program. I figured this out shortly after Photoshop CC started having similar problems opening images in the My Documents folder. I was using Panda Cloud for virus protection and after I switched it off, the two programs worked normally.

Ironically, I had originally switched from Avast as my anti-virus program because I thought it was getting too aggressive for my tastes (at the time, Avast was reporting at least one false positive everyday, which was getting really tiresome.) I switched to AVG, which immediately quarantined a couple of legitimate programs. Finally I arrived at Panda Cloud, which seemed to work fine for me but, looking back, I now see that this was about the time my 'permissions' problems started up. Once I realized Panda Cloud was the culprite, I switched back to Avast and everything is fine again--my guess is that Avast's devs have since toned down the program because I'm not seeing all those false positives now. I'm sure there is a switch somewhere that would make it less aggressive with the My Documents folder but since things are working fine now, I'm not going to bother switching again.

So in brief: TBSP 4 and Photoshop CC are working well for me now. Whew! Now I can get some work done again.

G.