Creating Your First Project Using the Storyboard

Few video editors rely on the storyboard. It's more a bridge to editing than a true productivity tool. Like A/B editing, it got its start in film. It's still in heavy use today as a pre-production tool. Directors call on artists to sketch out scenes to help visualize story flow and camera angles. I've seen animated feature film storyboards (bulletin boards) that filled several conference rooms.

In Premiere its primary function is as a video post-production tool. You can display video clip thumbnails in the storyboard to help structure the flow of your production. It can come in handy by revealing gaps in your story--places that need fleshing out with more video or graphics. It's also a way to note redundancy. But for most folks it serves solely as a one-time introduction to nonlinear editing. Use it once and move on.

So here we go.

Click File, New, Storyboard. This opens a small empty, nondescript window like the one shown in Figure 4.10.

Figure 4.10. An empty Storyboard window.


Select several clips from your bin(s) and drag and drop them to the Storyboard window. Voila--thumbnail images pop-up in an orderly fashion. Take a close look at your project or Figure 4.11. Premiere numbers the thumbnails sequentially, places arrows between them showing the story flow, places an x in a circle to indicate the final clip, labels each image with its filename and duration, and places the little descriptive icon in the graphic, noting the type of asset.

Figure 4.11. A storyboard filled with clip thumbnails and captions. The arrows signify story flow.


If you don't see all that caption information it's because your thumbnail icons are set too small. Right-click in the window or use that handy arrow in the upper-right corner of the window to access the Storyboard Window Options. As you can see in Figure 4.12, "options" is a misnomer. It's actually just one option: Icon Size. The larger the icon, the more information about the associated file will be displayed in the storyboard.

Figure 4.12. You have only one option in the Storyboard Window "Options" interface--Icon Size.



The thumbnail images default to the first frame of video for each file. As I mentioned earlier, you can set a new thumbnail image by playing the clip in the little Project window monitor and clicking the little box in the lower-right corner when you see a more representative image. If you change that image after you've placed the filename in the storyboard, Premiere will not change the thumbnail image in the storyboard. You can delete that filename and drag it back in from its bin, and the new thumbnail will appear.

Now you can look over the storyboard and do two things: rearrange and delete clips. Remember, you're just deleting the filename from the storyboard. The file itself remains on your hard drive, and the filename remains in its Project window bin.

To rearrange clips, simply drag a clip to its new location. If you move the clip somewhere earlier in the story--that is, to a lower sequential number--drag it to the clip you want it to precede. If you move a clip to later in the story--to a higher number--drag it to the clip you want it to follow.

To delete a clip, highlight it and press Delete. As with any file-management process, you also can Ctrl-click (Windows) and Shift-click (Mac OS) to select multiple clips, one at a time, and then delete them all at once.


As a further demonstration of the limited use of the storyboard, your only other option within the Storyboard window at this point is to change the speed of each individual clip--have a clip play in slow motion, for example. To do that, right-click a clip, select Speed, and change the percentage. A higher percentage speeds up the clip. 200 percent doubles the speed, thereby cutting the clip's time by half. 50 percent slows the clip down while doubling its length. It's a cool effect, but you don't need the storyboard to do it.

It would be nice if you could trim clips directly within the storyboard. You can't. What you can do is double-click a thumbnail and it'll pop up in the Source Monitor window. You can trim it there.

Double-click a clip you'd like to slim down. The Source Monitor window pops up over the storyboard with your clip's first frame on display (you also simply can drag your selected clip from the storyboard to the Source Monitor window).

This is where those extra icons in the Source window's lower-right corner come in handy. In Figure 4.13 I've circled two of them plus two others on the slider bar that you'll use to trim your clips.

Figure 4.13. You can trim your storyboard clips in the Source Monitor window using the two sets of in- and out-markers.


If you want to cut a little off the top, you can drag the little blue triangle--the Set Location slider--to an appropriate in-point. Then click the left bracket ({ ) to set the in-point. You can also drag the in-point bracket within the slider bar to an in-point as well. If you want to cut some off the tail, do the same either by moving the blue Set Location slider and clicking the out-point bracket (} ) or by dragging the slider bar out-point } to your new out-point.

If you have the Storyboard window open, you may notice two things that I've highlighted in Figure 4.14: The clip duration in the storyboard thumbnail caption changes to reflect the newly trimmed time, and the total time for your piece (in the lower-right corner of the storyboard) changes.

Figure 4.14. As you trim your clip in the Source Monitor window, your changed clip time also shows up in the storyboard clip caption.


Feel free to trim down as many of your clips as you like (you always can adjust those in- and out-points later in the timeline).

Once you're satisfied that your clips are in the right sequence, that you've weeded out the redundancies and trimmed the fat, it's time to save your storyboard and send your project to the timeline for additional editing.

You save your storyboard as a convenience. You may need to use all of it or segments of it later. Follow these steps:

  1. Simply click somewhere in the storyboard to select it.

  2. Click File, Save. Premiere should default to your scratch disk file for a save location.

  3. Type in a name and click Save.

Now you're going to move your storyboard clips to the timeline:

  1. Click the Automate to Timeline button in the lower-right corner of the storyboard. I highlighted it in Figure 4.15 (the other icon lets you "export" the clips to videotape--more on that in Hour 19, "Exporting Premiere Frames, Clips, and Projects: Part 1").

    Figure 4.15. The Automate to Timeline button will place your storyboard clips in sequential order on the timeline.


  2. In the newly opened Automate to Timeline dialog box, shown in Figure 4.16, you face several options. Most of the default settings will work fine:

    Contents? You're sending the entire contents of the storyboard to the timeline as opposed to selected clips.

    Placement? You'll place your clips sequentially on the timeline as opposed to at unnumbered markers (something we haven't covered anyway).

    Insert At? You want your project to start at the beginning of the timeline as opposed to at an edit point.

    Clip Overlap? Here's where I'd suggest you deviate from the defaults. Overlaps presume you are using A/B editing and that you will put a transition such as a cross-dissolve between each clip. Neither applies. I will mention, more than once, that transitions (and special effects) are overused and distracting, so fewer is better. Set Clip Overlap to zero.

    Use Default Transition? Because you will opt for no transitions, uncheck this box.

    Figure 4.16. The Automate to Timeline default settings should work fine. Change only Clip Overlap to zero and uncheck Use Default Transition.


  3. Click OK and close the storyboard. This places your clips on the timeline.

    Part II: Enhancing Your Video