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Storyboards, Shotlists, and Gear…

By April 23, 2013Storytelling

Hang on to your hats people, because Part 3 of our four-part Storytelling series for Vimeo Video School launches today! Be sure to go back and watch Part 1 (The 4 P’s of Storytelling) and Part 2 (Using Keywords) in case you missed them.

Here’s a breakdown of everything we cover in this tutorial:

  • 1:05 – Sketching out a storyboard.
  • 2:30 – Using a shot list as an alternative to a storyboard.
  • 2:55 – An example shot list and gear setup for shooting a golf outing.
  • 3:22 – Planning a shoot schedule and using call sheets.
  • 4:15 – Choosing the right gear based on your keywords, storyboard, locations, and people.
  • 5:30 – How to pick the right cameras and lenses for your shoot.
  • 6:12 – Adjusting camera movement based on story.
  • 7:12 – Choosing your lighting gear.
  • 7:30 – Example of lighting and gear choices in our shoot for City Of Doers, a documentary we made for the city of San Francisco.
  • 8:28 – Tips for the big shoot day.
  • 10:15 – Example of our “3/1″ rule.
  • 11:13 – Patrick explains the importance of getting in there!
  • 12:46 – Summary of the reasons why pre-production is your best friend, and what’s coming in our next and final tutorial!

We hope that you will take some or all of our suggestions for managing storyboards, shotlists, and gear when you’re planning a shoot. These techniques have helped us immensely in the pre-production process!

And don’t forget…

At the end of the series (starting this Thursday!) we’ll propose a storytelling challenge to YOU — you know how much we love fun challenges and competitions! You’ll compete along with all of the Vimeo community to win some cool prizes (and the fame and fortune that comes with it).

All entries will be posted to a Vimeo group, and Vimeo will be choosing 10 finalists.

(Each finalist chosen by Vimeo will receive a $99 license from WithEtiquette – sweet!)

Our friends at Cinevate will be choosing the top 3 – and awarding some amazing prizes below:

1. Atlas FLT Camera Slider with Moco

2. Atlas FLT Camera Slider

3. Simplis Quick-Release Plate…with two Universal Accessory Mounts

We’re grateful to Cinevate and WithEtiquette for sweetening the competition for you all!


Get your storyboarding pencils ready…Thursday we issue the challenge!


About Stillmotion


  • Hey guys! Thanks for an awesome video – again! Wondering if you can share your call sheet to see what a newer production company (me) should include on theirs! Thanks!

  • Marta says:

    This series has been excellent so far.

  • Hey all!

    Incredible series. You’ve done an excellent job of pulling the big concepts from your DVD and presenting them in these short vids.

    I second Jacob motion – such pretty call sheets and schedules!

  • christian says:

    Hey guys, amazing video! I was wondering if you all just used cinema lenses for your shoots and what’s so special about them?

    • Joyce says:

      Hey Christian,

      We don’t use cinema lenses exclusively but we do use them a fair bit depending on the scope of the project. For something like the 1hr ‘Let the Good Times Roll’ feature or a high-end commercial shoot, almost all of the b-roll was shot with cinema lenses. For the Final Four open this year, most of the C100/C300 cameras were primarily paired with L-series primes.

      Cinema lenses have several advantages that we find incredibly valuable on high end commercial shoots. In a way they generally have better contrast, sharpness and color but it’s mainly the size, gears and manual aperture where we see the greatest benefits.

      The Canon cinema primes are geared, which means the aperture and focus rings were designed to work with a follow focus, allowing us to do more precise, more complex shots more accurately. You can have a wireless set with your 1st AC to pull or simply do it yourself. We often run a C100 with cinema primes with a follow focus on a monopod and it works great.

      These lenses are also all the same size and weight, which makes it incredibly easy to rig up and still be able to switch lenses as often as we need. Matteboxes don’t need to be re-jigged and Steadicams don’t need to be rebalanced and when things are moving quick or there’s a lot of things going on set, the less complicated the better.

      Those of you who shoot DSLR have probably lost a shot or two because you were changing aperture settings while rolling. Being able to roll your aperture slowly and hold the shot when a crucial moment is happening in front of you can sometimes mean being able to save the whole shot or cut all/part of it out.

      So there are certainly benefits to using cinema lenses and we use ours often but in many cases L-series glass can be a strong choice. It depends on the complexity of the shoot and what makes sense for your budget. Don’t forget, renting is always an option if a shoot requires the precision of cinema lenses but they are out of reach to own. Hope that helps!


  • Carlos Gutiérrez García says:

    The the five of you are just amazing. The tutorials and the mails have gotten my attention day after day. Howdy form Mexico and please keep doing this! I have been spreading your work so that more people get to know your talent. Thanks again!

  • Joe says:

    I can see your enthusiasm from all the teaching videos your team created.
    It’s really inspiring and professional.
    Thanks for the effort guys.


  • Alana says:

    Thanks so much for this! I assumed the series might be a bit remedial, but not so! These videos have not just reinforced many of the concepts I try employ my own productions; they’ve also presented new or undervalued aspects in my storytelling. Keep up the good work!

  • Trevor says:

    These video’s are so awesome… Really looking forward to trying these story tell tequniques out soon! Thank you very much everyone at Sillmotion!


  • Danny says:

    Thank you again!

  • Danny says:

    BTW, if possible, may I have a call sheet template as well. That’ll be very helpful!

  • John Moon says:

    Great informative series. Thanks

  • Mike Thole says:

    Another great segment! As I branch out on my own (have been focusing mostly on the post side) and get behind the camera with my new business, these tips are extremely beneficial. I’ll be primarily shooting on my own, so the more efficient I can be, the better. I’m all in on the story development/ storyboarding/ shotlisting suggestions. I continue to be a SM groupie! Thanks for inviting us into your world!

  • Hey guys. This is my first time here. I made my way here from the vimeo storytelling series, which was so good. I was wondering if I too could get a template of your call sheet? They’re just so clean and pretty. If you could email me one to I’d appreciate it a ton. Thanks guys! Cheers! 🙂