Part A: Understanding the features of a storyboard
To help you plan for the shooting, Mr Lam has asked you to create a storyboard to present the plot of your short film.
I. Elements of a storyboard
A storyboard is a graphic representation of a film for showing the sequence of the events / scenes. It includes a series of panels with illustrations and notes on what is happening in the scenes. In each panel, you can show the setting, positions, dialogues, acting of the characters, etc.
1. Read the storyboard of A Christmas Carol below and match the following items (A-E) with the appropriate panels.
A. Lighting B. Dialogues C. Foreground and background D. Short descriptions of the scene E. Props
Adapted from www.storyboardthat.com/privateboards/nathanael-okhuysen/christmas-carol-plot-diagram
E A C
2. What other elements can you include in the storyboard?
Camera shots and angles
Sound effects (e.g. background music, special audio effects)
II. How to draw a storyboard?
The seven steps below show you how to create a storyboard but they are in a wrong order. Work with a partner to put the steps in the correct order.
Order Step for drawing a storyboard
4 Sketch the setting and characters
1 Brainstorm a list of events in the story
(Examples: when and where your story takes place; who will be present; what actions will take place)
3 Decide on the order of events (Examples: flashback, flash-forward)
2 Identify the key moments and scenes in your story (Examples: the conflict, the climax, a plot twist)
7 Finalise the storyboard
(Examples: adding colours; reviewing and revising the dialogues and descriptions if necessary)
6 Number the panels
5 Write a description for each panel to show what is happening (Examples: actions of the characters)
# Add dialogues or information about lighting, camera shots and angles, music and sound effects to facilitate shooting
Part B: Turning a story into a storyboard
Mr Lam has given you a short story to practise how to turn a story into a storyboard.
Select the appropriate scenes from the story and put them in the storyboard.
THE GIFT OF THE MAGI by O. Henry
One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all she had. Three times Della counted it. And the next day would be Christmas.
There was clearly nothing to do but sit down on the old sofa and cry. So Della did. You see, life is made up of tears and smiles, but mainly of tears.
As Della had finished crying, she looked out of the window sadly at a grey cat walking along a grey fence in a grey park. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 to buy Jim a present.
Suddenly she turned away from the window and stood before a mirror. Her eyes were shining brightly as she thought about her husband, Jim. She had been saving every penny she could for months to buy a present for Jim. Something fine and rare for her Jim. Quickly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.
There were two things that Jim and Della were very proud of. One was Jim’s gold watch that had belonged to his father and his grandfather. The other was Della’s hair. It was brown and shiny like a cascade. When she let it loose, it reached below her knee and it fell around her like a beautiful cloak.
Quickly and nervously she pinned it up again. Once she hesitated for a minute and stood still while a tear or two went down her face. She put on her old brown jacket and her old brown hat. Then she rushed out of the door and down the stairs to the street.
She stopped at a shop with the sign “Madame Sofronie – Hair Goods of All Kinds.”
“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.
“Take your hat off and let’s have a look at it,” said Madame.
Down fell the brown cascade.
“Twenty dollars,” said Madame.
The next two hours had gone happily. Della was searching the stores for Jim’s present. She found it at last. It was a platinum watch chain. As soon as she saw it she knew that it would be right for Jim’s watch.
At 7 o’clock, coffee was made and the frying pan was hot on the stove. Della was about to start cooking.
Jim stepped in the house and his eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not understand, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the feelings that she had expected.
He simply stared at her with that strange expression on his face.
Della got up and went over to him.
“Jim, darling,” she cried, “don’t look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn’t have lived through Christmas without giving you a present.
It’ll grow again. You don’t know what a nice gift I’ve got for you.”
“You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Jim slowly, as if he did not understand.
“Cut it off and sold it,” said Della. “Don’t you like me just as well? I’m still the same without my hair.”
Jim seemed to wake suddenly from a dream. He drew a package from his overcoat pocket and put it on the table.
“Don’t make any mistake about me, Della,” he said, “I don’t think there’s anything in your haircut that could make me love you less. But if you open that package you’ll see why I did not know what to say just now.”
With nimble fingers Della tore at the string and paper. Her excited scream of joy quickly changed to tears and cries. For there lay the set of combs that Della had admired for months in a shop window. Beautiful combs, with jewels in them - but her hair had gone and she had no use for them.
She held them close to her heart and at last, she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say, “My hair grows fast, Jim!”
Then Della remembered that Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She showed it to him eagerly.
“Isn’t it lovely, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.”
“Della, don’t get disappointed as I had sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. Let’s put our precious presents away and keep them a while. They’re too nice to use just at present. We should cherish our time together and get the supper ready now.”
“You’re right.” Della smiled with contentment.
Adapted from www.eduhk.hk/alttasks/material/unit02/Gifts_text_101204.doc
1. Answer the following questions to help you select important details for inclusion in the storyboard for “The Gift of the Magi”.
Exposition 1. When was the story set?
2. What does “she” in line 1 in the first paragraph refer to?
Conflict 3. What was Della’s most valuable possession?
Her long hair
4. What problem did the characters face in the story?
Della and Jim, a poor couple, struggled to buy a nice Christmas gift for each other.
5. Why did Della feel frustrated and cry?
She did not have enough money to buy her husband a gift.
6. What did Della get Jim for Christmas?
A platinum watch chain
7. How did Della get enough money to buy Jim’s Christmas gift?
She sold her hair to get money to buy a platinum watch chain for Jim.
Climax 8. How did Jim react when he saw Della’s new hairstyle? Why?
He was shocked because he had sold his watch for money to buy Della a set of combs for her long hair, which Della no longer had.
9. What did Jim and Della decide to do with the Christmas presents?
They decided to put the gifts away until they could both use them.
Resolution 10. How did Jim and Della respond to the situation and feel at the end of the story?
Despite the fact that the gifts they had bought for each other were no longer useful, Jim and Della did not blame each other.
They cherished each other and the time together. They learnt a valuable lesson about sacrifice and love.
Theme 11. Which of the following best identifies the theme of the story?
A. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
B. Count your blessings.
C. Never judge a book by its cover.
D. Do as you would be done by.
If you were to make a short film for the story “The Gift of the Magi”, which scenes would you include to present the story and messages?
Part C: Designing a storyboard
To take part in the Short Film Competition, you and your group members are going to make a short film of under five minutes based on one of the messages: (a)
“Count your blessings”; OR (b) “Never judge a book by its cover”. Use the storyboard below to brainstorm the details of the short film with your group members.