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GPencil: New Workflow for Storyboarding
Confirmed, NormalPublicDESIGN

Authored By
Antonio Vazquez (antoniov)
Aug 6 2019, 5:40 PM
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Description

This is the main task for improving the Storyboarding workflow.

As the main area of Storyboarding is the Video Sequencer Editor, this task also includes changes in this editor not only related to grease pencil.

Event Timeline

Antonio Vazquez (antoniov) lowered the priority of this task from 90 to Normal.Aug 6 2019, 5:47 PM

Thanks @Antonio Vazquez (antoniov) for creating the task.

Things needed for the Storyboard workflow using Grease Pencil:

  • A new Template for Storyboarding that include a new Storyboarding Workspace to draw and edit frames and also a 2D Full Canvas, Video Editing and Rendering Workspaces.

  • Determine wich Scene to use on a particular workspace, to avoid the need to change the scene every time you switch from Video Editing Workspace to Storyboarding Workspace to work on the Grease Pencil object.

  • A quick way to select a Scene strip in the Sequencer and switch to that scene in the Storyboarding Workspace.

  • A way to export selected frames from the Sequencer (using markers) as images/PDF for printing, with scene title, frame number, text, dialog or comments (Could be using an addon)

Forgive me for interjecting if this isn't a discussion page. Here's my 2 cents, as a user:
I would recommend looking at the UX of the FOSS app, Storyboarder. It's a great tool, but it can't handle any more than a few minutes of storyboard because it's implemented in JS. Despite bad performance, I still use it for boarding because of these features:
Easy to rearrange frames, since they are not tied to a timeline, but rather are arranged sequentially and each have their own duration property. Thus there's never the problem of wanting to edit the panel but accidentally creating a new frame- it's not possible to be between panels at all. This also make it easy to re-time, since you can drop a new frame in and each subsequent frame moves over to compensate. Frames can be dragged and dropped anywhere in the list. In Blender, you have to select all keys and move them multiple times- one for GP objects, once for sound, once more for armatures, yet again for markers, etc. . It's easy to lose track of the duration of a panel this way. Dope sheets are better for keyframe animation than storyboards.
Quick recording and inserting voice/sound clips. Blender has a great audio library already, I imagine this wouldn't be too hard to implement.
Notes, action, and dialogue text boxes that change with the frame

There's a cool 3D scene creator that is kind of a gimmick, but it's a great feature for people like me that suck at drawing! This is easily doable in Blender with addons like Archipack and Archimesh.

LAYERS are incredibly useful. I can have a separate layer for characters, backgrounds, props, etc. and in this area, GP is great for boarding. However, they complicate the task of retiming, which I think is the crucial issue for storyboarding. It would be great if there was a way to 'parent' keyframes to a common set of properties, so that multiple layers could be moved, scaled, and displayed together. Perhaps a storyboarding feature set would merit a dedicated version of the dope-sheet?

Dave F (df) added a subscriber: Dave F (df).EditedSep 25 2019, 11:40 AM

Forgive me for interjecting if this isn't a discussion page. Here's my 2 cents, as a user:
I would recommend looking at the UX of the FOSS app, Storyboarder. It's a great tool, but it can't handle any more than a few minutes of storyboard because it's implemented in JS. Despite bad performance, I still use it for boarding because of these features:
Easy to rearrange frames, since they are not tied to a timeline, but rather are arranged sequentially and each have their own duration property. Thus there's never the problem of wanting to edit the panel but accidentally creating a new frame- it's not possible to be between panels at all. This also make it easy to re-time, since you can drop a new frame in and each subsequent frame moves over to compensate. Frames can be dragged and dropped anywhere in the list. In Blender, you have to select all keys and move them multiple times- one for GP objects, once for sound, once more for armatures, yet again for markers, etc. . It's easy to lose track of the duration of a panel this way. Dope sheets are better for keyframe animation than storyboards.
Quick recording and inserting voice/sound clips. Blender has a great audio library already, I imagine this wouldn't be too hard to implement.
Notes, action, and dialogue text boxes that change with the frame

There's a cool 3D scene creator that is kind of a gimmick, but it's a great feature for people like me that suck at drawing! This is easily doable in Blender with addons like Archipack and Archimesh.

LAYERS are incredibly useful. I can have a separate layer for characters, backgrounds, props, etc. and in this area, GP is great for boarding. However, they complicate the task of retiming, which I think is the crucial issue for storyboarding. It would be great if there was a way to 'parent' keyframes to a common set of properties, so that multiple layers could be moved, scaled, and displayed together. Perhaps a storyboarding feature set would merit a dedicated version of the dope-sheet?

Totally agree with this. I'd love to use Blender for storyboarding, but currently I'm using Wonder Unit Storyboarder as well, mainly for the ease of retiming and rearranging. I wonder if there's some way of making storyboarding work well with the NLA editor or something - basically during storyboarding you're doing a ton of rearranging and retiming, and most of it is on large groups of keyframes, so having to manually do stuff in the graph editor is a) time consuming and b) very easy to mess up

[edit] btw @Matias Mendiola (mendio)'s suggestion looks good, definitely has most of the features you'd want. I notice there's a script area as well, that makes sense - one cool feature would also be something like Storyboarder's Final Draft XML import. Although Fountain (which I haven't used) seems like it could be a good open source alternative? https://fountain.io/syntax

There are a few ways to improve the workflow for storyboarding purposes. But that may require a lot of different kinds of code to write or modify. So I'll specify some ideas in as general way as I can:

  1. It's important to distinguish a "Shot" from a "Scene", because a single Scene can consist of multiple shots. Each Shot can consist of multiple "frames" (or, in our case, "Keyframes").
  2. To ensure that the software gets out of the way and allows the storyboarder to draw and think on-the-fly, intuitively, we may need to figure out how to not only separate sections of animations as "Shots".
  3. This should also, theoretically, allow us to re-time shots on-the-fly rather than having to fiddle with keyframes too much.
  4. Optionally, automatically assigning numbers (based on a studio's preferred format) to each shot and frame can be a god-sent addition.
  5. The ability to see "thumbnails" of those shots, as well as frames each shot, at-a-glance (such as in Wonder Unity Storyboarder, or even ToonBoom Storyboard Pro) can end up saving a lot of time.
  6. The ability to storyboard an entire scene without having to switch out of and fiddle around the Master Scene.

Of course, there are plenty of other features that other storyboard applications cover, such as FrameForge and StudioBinder, but the ones I've specified here are (at least according to me) the most essential ones. Because even without all the bells and whistles, a storyboard-app's biggest competitor is paper-and-pencil, as the task itself is highly creative and iterative.

philippe.lavoie on Blenderartists.org made a very interesting addon that uses Fountain formatted screenplays to add markers on the timeline and subtitle overlays to scenes. It's pretty amazing as it creates a (rough) timed out screenplay ready to storyboard immediately.
However its for 2.79

Heres a Youtube video that explains it

tin2tin got it working somewhat for 2.82 but no openGL overlays so no subtitles but the markers work and are clickable to go to that spot on the timeline.

Wow, that fountain plugin looks pretty awesome! Would love to see some kind of automatic generation of assets, although not sure if that's practical - e.g. a labelled camera for each shot, etc. Hard to know where to stop on that though!

Hey all - definitely worth checking out Panel Forge for some inspiration, it's in open beta at the minute and definitely has some really good ideas. It's a storyboard-only tool with a 3D import/camera placement layer, the storyboard part is really slick and very fast to work with, the 3D side of things is nowhere near blender though obviously :-) Worth a look for sure

https://www.panel-forge.com/

Just to chime in

as much as having storyboarding solution would be amazing and highly sought after remember the task

  1. Story

2.Boarding

I believe a stronger way forward is where both writer and boarding artist can + each others work.

Causality is a great bit of kit for story. when you take a look at it you will notice that blenders

Link to Causality: https://www.hollywoodcamerawork.com/causality.html

We've had huge discussion about this with people from the studio. It's honestly worth taking a look and just asking yourself "how much of this framework already exists in Blender?"

  1. Sequencer
  2. Node editor
  3. Script ediitor
  4. Grease pencil

Are all just kinda there waiting to come together. To form a pretty darn powerful tool.

I could go on with a lot more about this with workflow and collaboration. I think that will do for now.

{F10166261}Hello. It would be nice to add a draw-over/note function in the storyboarding portion of Blender. It would be similar to what frame.io does. When a Director does a draw-over on a board and adds a note with instructions, it shows up like a message board for edits. It's represented in the timeline as a note where you can go straight to it and make adjustments or ask questions. I hope this makes sense.

Thanks,

Joe

The original proposal by @Matias Mendiola (mendio) looks really great!

I think minor tweaks to make individual frames more explicit might help. For example, the current layout has the whole script in one text editor. Instead, I think it would help to have 2 text boxes (dialog, notes) dedicated to the current panel. This would help both with creating subtitles in animatics and would help with the “Export to PDF” option where each panel needs to have the associated dialog/notes. I think this is similar to what was suggested in the rightclickselect proposal.

Traditionally with storyboarding, there are 3 levels of organization (Sequence/Scene/Panel or Scene/Shot/Panel). With the current proposal we have 2 levels of organization (Blender Scenes provides the middle level whereas markings in the timeline will provide the lowest level). Should we expect the users to use files for the highest level of organization or should we consider adjusting the organization to allow the 3rd level in the workflow more naturally?

peace to all ,
i want to mention something about languages of the scripts, we need to add support to write from right to left like arabic language and other spreaded languages also we now that we can make scripts as 3D object i hope that we can converge it to grease pencil directly in order to animate those scripts if we want to show those scripts in the scene ...

.... about the design i propose to have an option in outliner show what are the objects and grease pencil layers are created for each keyframe ... (that help to look for layers and GP created to tweak or change them with less time spending for looking for them )

.one other point to mention is we need to have in build modifier a switcher or a panel to change from where the build begin to build the layer ( from 1st point or from last point ..) or from both sides for other purpos (using it to fade from the center and it will the best idea if we can specify where the center point will be by tweaking a slider or sth ) and the possibility to animate that option

@Antonio Vazquez (antoniov) Is there a description of the optimal storyboarding workflow and needed changes somewhere? How does the new scene generating patches fit in? Is this it?

Things needed for the Storyboard workflow using Grease Pencil:

  • Determine which Scene to use on a particular workspace, to avoid the need to change the scene every time you switch from Video Editing Workspace to Storyboarding Workspace to work on the Grease Pencil object.

There is this patch to pin the scene, which has been sitting forever: https://developer.blender.org/D9140

  • A quick way to select a Scene strip in the Sequencer and switch to that scene in the Storyboarding Workspace.

There are several add-ons doing that. Ex. https://github.com/snuq/VSESwitchToScene

  • A way to export selected frames from the Sequencer (using markers) as images/PDF for printing, with scene title, frame number, text, dialog or comments (Could be using an addon)

Isn't there an unreleased storyboard export add-on you guys are working on?

It seems like all of the Storyboarding work this is based on scene switching. Have you investigated workflows, as this one suggested by Shubhampatilart which will allow for previewing the GP changes in the 3d view and the Sequencer with instant updates? https://devtalk.blender.org/t/suggestion-make-the-sequencer-contents-into-data-block-which-can-override-the-switched-to-scene-sequencer-contents/16562/9 Or converting Sequence/Strip content into data blocks, which will allow switching scene without switching Sequencer content(above in the previous link).

Hi Peter,
I just wanted to follow up on the last thing you mentioned above. As a storyboard artist coming from Storyboard Pro to Blender, having the Sequencer preview live updates to your 3D viewport would be brilliant. The most powerful feature of Storyboard Pro is the timeline editing. Each 'Scene' is considered one shot which is comprised of 'panels' (drawings or keyframes in Blender). I understand Blender isn't setup in the same way and because you cannot edit the keyframes within a strip via the Video Sequencer it's not crucial to have that feature you meant above. Unless, there's a way to affect the keyframes from a 'Scene' (or shot) when scaling the strips up or down in the Sequencer.

I'm also curious how this update is intended to work. Will we being using a each scene as a new shot or do we do multiple shots in one scene so we are binding cameras to markers and edit the keyframes between markers.
If it's the latter, than perhaps a feature that scales all keyframes between two camera markers solves the Storyboard parallel feature.

Apologies if it's not my place to comment but I'm excited to see this updates unfold!
Thank you,
Maurits Valk{F13043235}

PS my storyboarding workspace attached along with a bit more explanation on sequencer editing keyframes or camera binders quickly adjust keyframes.

@Peter Fog (tintwotin) We haven't a document with the workflow now. The workflow that we are developing is the result of putting all ideas received from different studios that are already using Blender as Storyboard tool, and all of them use the VSE as core and work by scene.

About the patch D9140...yes, I agree...it's a pity to have it pending.

For the Scene/VSE synch...we are working in an add-on that does that and can be use different approaches to keep the synch between the scene in VSE and the 3D scene.

For the export, we already created the PDF export and this could be used for storyboarding, but the plan we have it's to create some type of export using some industry standard, but still thinking.

As a general rule, we will try to put as "core" as many features as possible to get a better Storyboarding workflow.

Anyway, @Matias Mendiola (mendio) and @Daniel Martinez Lara (pepeland) can give you more details of the workflow because they are in contact with studios and know better than me all workflow details.