It’s the 4th of July.
I am trying to squeeze in a few hours of productivity before the friendly neighborhood amateur pyrotechnicians set to their work and my dogs lose their minds until tomorrow morning. I like this time of summer. The school has been empty for weeks and the new school year is on horizon but there is still enough summer left to take a trip, visit friends and family, or if you’re like me, test out new software for the upcoming year. Today, I am taking a look a Storyboard Quick Studio 6.1 from PowerProduction Software.
According to the their website, PowerProduction Software has been in business serving media professionals and producers for 20 years. Their “mission is to provide creative tools for creative minds” (http://www.powerproduction.com/company.html). Storyboard Quick is a program for PC and Mac designed to make storyboarding fast and easy. I am all for that! The page for Storyboard Quick discusses the features of the program like customizable characters, backgrounds, props and the ability to import a variety of scripts and export your finished storyboards in various formats.
I am optimistic that this software will fill a void in my classroom. I love making short films. I love teaching students how to make short films. Teaching the production process is my bread and butter. My students love the production and post production but they stop the pre-production phase at the script. They often to neglect storyboarding altogether opting to wing it and roll camera without a firm plan in place. I have not yet found a surefire way to get them to embrace storyboarding their projects other than deducting points from the project grades when storyboards are lacking detail or they do not exist at all. I have taught storyboarding several ways, from using printing blank powerpoint slides to having students posing their actors and taking pictures on the their phones which has been moderately successful. Let’s take a look at Storyboard Quick. Storyboard Quick retails for $249 from the PowerProduction website. Education pricing is available for up 90% off according to the manufacturer.
Storyboard Quick installs quickly and easily. When you start the program you are greeted by the startup menu which has three choices New Project, Open Project, and Watch Tutorials. I like that the tutorials feature is right there on the main menu. With other programs one has to search through a pile of menus before you find them.
Upon clicking on the new project option, the software gives you the option to produce storyboards for a variety of formats including HD, SD, Web, Feature Film, Widescreen and custom. The resolution changes for each one of the formats. For the purposes of this review I used the HD option.
After you make your selection the workspace loads quickly. My first impression of the workspace is that it appears a bit dated. The menus and panels that are laid out on the workspace are confusing at first glance because some of the panels are not labelled. Also, upon clicking one panel causes others to temporarily disappear. After a few moments I was able to find my way around and my opinion changed. I like the workspace. It’s not confusing or dated, it’s simplistic. Could it benefit from a few more labels? Sure.
Creating storyboards is relatively simple and if you watch the tutorials before you begin a lot of the guesswork will be done for you. Just select your location background, characters, and props if you plan to use them and you are ready to rock. Characters come in a variety of poses and actions like running, jumping, shooting and driving. You can also import scripts and use them to create storyboards. Below is a screenshot of my workspace I used when I created the North By Northwest inspired storyboard that accompanies this article.
You can also use the QuickShot menu to create a storyboard using preset scenarios in just a few clicks. I like the QuickShot option because it makes it easy to create frames without having to manually position all of the elements in the frame. There are dozens of QuickShot scenarios to choose from the dropdown menu.
Export & Print Options
The program gives you several format options to export your finished storyboards including flash video, html, and image files. Storyboards can be printed in a variety of configurations to suit your needs. I like the export options however I could not seem to get the flash videos to play back on my computer.
Pros & Cons
Storyboard Quick has its pluses and minuses. I like several thing about the program. Once I found my way around the program creating storyboards is easy. I like the QuickShots options because I can see my students using that function a lot. I am a fan all of the print options because I can print my storyboards all on one page or as a frame per page with several options in between.
There are a few downsides that I found when using the software. For one, the dated look of the workspace may cause my students to be skeptical about using the program. Another issue that I found is the menus that temporarily disappear. While this does not change the functionality of the program it is bothersome. I would also like to see labels for every menu on the workspace. I feel that the pros and cons balance eachother out.
Overall, I like the software. I do feel that there is room for improvements to be made but I think it is usable. It is definitely better than drawing dozens of shots by hand. I can see myself using this software to train my students in storyboard creation. As it stands now I would consider purchasing a few licenses for my lab. If improvements are made I would consider pursuing a site license.
Adam Logan began his career in education in 2010 while working for the Grant to Reduce Alcohol Abuse at Berrien High School in Nashville GA. The GRAA built the video production program at Berrien. In 2011, he became the teacher for the program. During his time there he led the program to industry certification and for two years his students had a 100% pass rate on the SkillsUSA end of pathway exam.
During the 2014-2015 Logan taught video production for Moultrie Technical College (now Southern Regional Technical College) as an adjunct professor serving high schools in the Tifton, GA area.
He relaunched his career at Walnut Grove High School in Loganville GA in 2015.