What eventually becomes part of a storyboard can typically be traced back to what was in the script. Every element of a script — slug lines, dialogue, action — can inform what belongs in a storyboard, so it’s crucial to first analyze the screenplay.
How a filmmaker wants to label the elements of a scene is entirely up to them. Some prefer using computer programs that help to identify and categorize various components like character, wardrobe, and setting. Others may instead physically mark up the script with highlighters to differentiate those elements. Should a filmmaker choose the former, they have at their disposal a wide array of software options, many of them entirely free to use. Among some of the more popular digital storyboarding options are Boords, Frameforge Storyboard Studio, Moviestorm, Plot, Studiobinder, and Storyboarder.
This stage of storyboarding is important for two reasons. Not only will it aid the filmmaking crew in identifying what will be required for each scene, but also it can help to clarify budgetary needs. For instance, if a scene is set in the Empire State Building, the filmmakers will have to address whether they intend to film on location or replicate that venue, a decision which usually will be based on cost.
At this early stage of the storyboarding process, a filmmaker may also want to make the decision of aspect ratio, meaning the dimensions of the film as a whole. Why would this be important before the camera equipment is even rented for the shoot? Because aspect ratio will determine the size of the storyboard frames. Most features are shot with either a 1.85: 1 aspect ratio or 2.39: 1 aspect ratio, depending on the film genre.