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Creating Storyboards on the iPad with Storyboard Composer HD

On the 1st of August 2011 Cinemek Inc. launched their Storyboard Composer HD software on the App Store. I thought, “This is certainly worth a look!” What follows is a step-by-step approach to using this innovative app to create a storyboard, all from the comfort of your sofa… or wherever you use your iPad.

Step 1 - Create a new storyboard

Touch the Menu button, and from the window that appears touch the + symbol to start a new storyboard.

start the story

Name the Storyboard, Production and Director if you wish and touch Done on the keypad. Press the X to close the menu and your storyboard is ready to go. 

Step 2 - Add some Scenes

Every storyboard starts with one scene, adding more is a simple task of touching the New Scene icon in the bottom menu as many times as are required. 

Tip: If you already have one scene in place you can also duplicate the next scene instead (assuming it's similar anyway). 

Adding a scene

The next step is to start adding content to the scene by importing still images from the iPad’s Photo Library. 

adding content from the Photo Library

Touching the Photo Library icon in the top menu opens the Photo Library, where if you have already synced photos of locations or for animatics then you can select them and import them as shots. 

Step 3 - Arranging Locations

Obviously if there are a number of images in your Photo Library they're probably not in shot order and you may want to repeat some images across different scenes. 

Storyboard HD utilizes the iPads touchscreen nicely to enable this. Touch and hold a scene and the display transforms into an editable workspace allowing you to shuffle your still images into order, just like moving Apps around in iOS's home screen. 

Arranging locations

To duplicate a selected shot you simply touch the Duplicate icon in the bottom menu. 

duplicate icon

Step 4 - Adding a Character

To begin adding characters using Storyboard HD’s character generator first tap on a shot to open it up in a separate window and tap the Character icon to add a male character.

Add a male character

A character is added and a new menu that allows you to modify the Genre, Direction Faced or remove the character. The pinch motion allows you to re-size the character to the desired scale up or down while dragging the character around can be done using just one finger. Very simple indeed. 

resize/reposition the character

Rotating the character like I have done is a little more tricky: use two fingers again similar to the pinch gesture. However, rather than sliding them together or apart, rotate them in the direction you want in a twist movement. Be careful though as it's easy to apply pinch and re-scale at the same time. 


Step 5 - Add more Characters

Tap the character icon a second time to add another character. This time I’ve changed the character to a female and changed to a profile instead of the default. 

Profile female character

This is now the only character that can be modified, the original character is now locked so make sure the first character is perfect before adding more. 

Tip: If you do need to modify the original character further delete the second character using the Remove icon in the bottom menu.

Step 6 - Add directions to Characters

Storyboard HD has some really nice options to indicate character movement in the storyboard. To indicate characters have moved across the screen tap the Arrow icon on the Right menu. 

Move a character

Once an arrow has been added it can be edited by using the pinch movement to change the scale, moved by dragging it with one finger or rotated using two fingers and twisting it (just like the character). 

By default the arrow always points to the left, if you want to flip it to the right tap the Flip icon in the bottom menu. 

Step 7 - Turn Characters

A second arrow option is Rotate. This is used to indicate characters turning in the scene. 

Rotate characters

Just like the movement arrow, the rotate arrow can be edited in just the same way by pinching, twisting and dragging as well as using the bottom menu to amend or remove the arrow. 

Note: as with the characters, each arrow becomes uneditable once a new arrow has been added, unless you remove the new arrow first. 

Step 8 - Add Script or Notes

Each scene can be annotated with text, perhaps you want to add some script, or perhaps camera notes or similar. To add notes to a shot tap on the Pencil icon from the Right menu. 

Adding text

A text editor opens where you can type what you want then tap Done to go back to the shot. 

The added text

The text won't appear in the shot editor but it will show up in the storyboard. 

Step 9 - Add Audio

Another great tool, especially if you want to add script to each shot is to add Audio. 

Add audio to a shot

Tap the Audio icon in the Bottom menu to open the audio recorder. When you’re ready to start recording tap the record button and the iPad's built-in mic will record whatever you say and attach it to the scene.  Be careful though as the recording may not last as long as your script requires. If that's the case move on to step 10 first. 

Step 10 - Changing the Length of a Scene

From the Bottom menu of the scene editor tap the Clock icon to bring up a rolling menu. Roll the Minutes, Seconds and Frames options to the desired length for your shot. 

change scene length

Tap the screen away from the clock icon again to close the menu again. 

Step 11 - Adding Camera Movement

There are four basic camera movements that can be added to a shot: Dolly, Zoom, Track and Pan. Each one is selectable from an icon on the Left menu. 

Camera movements

The Dolly shows two positions: the first indicated by the Green rectangle is the Dolly start point and the second is the Red rectangle is the Dolly end point. You can pinch and drag the smaller rectangle to edit the Dolly movement as required. The Bottom menu allows you to switch the Dolly from in to out.

The Zoom shows two positions as well: the first indicated by the Green rectangle is the Zoom start point and the second is the Red rectangle is the Zoom end point. You can pinch and drag the smaller rectangle to edit the Zoom movement as required. The Bottom menu allows you to switch the Zoom from in to out.

Camera zoom controls

The Track also shows two positions: the first indicated by the Green rectangle is the Track start point and the second is the Red rectangle is the Track end point. You can pinch and drag either rectangle to edit the Track movement as required. The Bottom menu allows you to switch between the start or end point editor.

Track options

The Pan shows two positions: the first indicated by the Green rectangle is the Pan start point and the second is the Red rectangle is the Pan end point. You can pinch and drag either rectangle to edit the Pan movement as required. The Bottom menu allows you to switch between the start or end point editor.

Pan options

Step 12 - Switching to a Different Shot in a Scene

Switching shots is really simple. To access a new panel from the storyboard tap on the Page icon from the Top menu. This reveals the whole storyboard, from where you can tap on another shot to edit that shot in the editor.

Back to the storyboard

Another quicker option is to use the navigator found at the bottom right of the shot edit screen. Taping on the Back or Forward arrow skips back or forward through each shot. 

Navigator view

Step 13 - Reviewing the Storyboard

OK, so you have made all your shots, added camera movements, audio and notes and everything else you need. Now it's time to watch the storyboard back. 

Tap the Scene button to take you back to a menu that contains all the scenes you might have made.

Reviewing the scenes

Tap on the scene you want to watch and touch the Watch icon from the Bottom menu. Your storyboard opens as a full screen video and begins to play. 

Playing back your storyboard

Step 14 - Exporting your Storyboard

Once the storyboard is complete it can be exported and shared. 

With the storyboard selected tap the Menu button at the top. Tap the Share icon inside the menu window and a second menu pops up offering options such as Save As..., Export PDF, Export QuickTime and Email Storyboard

Exporting options

To create a watchable QuickTime movie tap Export QuickTime. 

Export to Quicktime

The video will be uploaded and rendered to a server belonging to Cinemek, which you are able to password and then share the .MOV file with anyone you choose. 

The final storyboard

This is a very easy and enjoyable application to use. It took me no time at all to create a simple storyboard and I think it makes a good job of telling the story well. One thing I think I’d like to see added at some stage is a drawing feature of some kind for any illustrators out there but that's not a big deal really. The app is also available for iPhone which could work very nicely for you if you’re visiting a location.  

Download Storyboard Composer HD for $29.99.

David Smith

David Smith | Articles by this author

David Smith is Scotland's most qualified Apple and Adobe certified trainer. Having completed his education at Edinburgh College of Art's BAFTA winning Film School, David moved straight into TV production, first as a Vision Mixer then quickly becoming, at the age of just 24, a director of live TV studio productions. In 2001 he moved into Higher Education where he became a lecturer in TV Production, specializing in post-production and live studio production. During this time, and working with the support of the BBC, Channel 4 and independent production companies, David was instrumental in the design, development and implementation of industry-approved vocational courses across Scotland's Colleges. In 2006, after working closely with Apple Computers to create a unique multimedia studio for education at the Music and Media Centre in Perth, David became Scotland's first Apple-Certified Trainer for Pro Apps. This led on to David forming the first Apple Authorized Training Centre for Education, north of Manchester. In 2008 David made the move to full time training and joined the ranks at Academy Class, Ltd. where he continues to train industry professionals as a certified trainer across the Adobe Creative Suite and Apple Pro Apps range.


Sep 23, 2013
Pino Pgl
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