Storyboarding is a valuable step in the creation process for visual content, like presentations, eLearning modules, and animations. Today, we are going to review Storyboard That, a software that provides users with a straightforward service: it enables them to create their own cartoon storyboards.

Users can create storyboards that incorporate a range of backgrounds, characters and more, from their extensive library of assets.

interface with a blank storyboard template

The Storyboard That interface is simple and intuitive.

Overall impressions

I found it really easy to create a storyboard, using the menus at the top of the page to select assets, and then dragging them onto the template below. Storyboard That has a very intuitive interface which would suit users with varying levels of comfort with technology.

Storyboard That provides not only the traditional, linear storyboard layout (think comic strips), but mind maps and timelines as well. This gives the user a bit more flexibility and widens the possibilities of content creation.

interface showing a range of different layouts for storyboards

Users can customise their cell and storyboard layouts.

The characters available are also flexible: users can change the pose and expression of characters by selecting from a range of emotions and actions. These can then be customised further, with side and back views, and full control over head, arm, and leg positions. Though it is really fun to play with all the different poses and characters, this isn’t just an entertaining feature: it could be beneficial for users with specific scenarios to create or situations to portray.

storyboard that character poser

 

Adjusting characters’ appearance and pose is quick and easy.

Suitability

Storyboard That has specialized editions for three use groups: students and teachers, business users, and film-makers. These three groups have different needs and will use the tool in different ways: so how suitable a tool is it for each of them?

Students and teachers

My first impression of Storyboard That was, “This would have been so useful in school!” The program has clearly been designed with the needs of students and teachers in mind. The cartoon style and genres of assets available make it most suited to a primary or secondary educational environment.

Storyboard That is most obviously useful for traditional arts subjects like History and English, but could also bring benefits to other parts of the curriculum. Students could storyboard a play in Theatre class, or a short film in Media Studies. Foreign language teachers could create everyday scenarios, and get students to fill in the dialogue. Even the science subjects could benefit: the range of animals available in the asset library and the mind map storyboard layout could be useful for creating taxonomies in Biology class.

Storyboard That interface with a three cell storyboard, showing two women talking in the street, then in the kitchen with a sleeping cat, then in a living room having a conversation.

Language teachers could whip up scenes like these in minutes, and have their students fill in the speech bubbles.

I can also see how Storyboard That could work as a design tool for eLearning modules, though you do have to export the scenes as images which limits the possibilities when it comes to animation.

Film-makers

Film-makers could definitely use this tool to plan their project. The characters have a good range of poses and expressions, different eras are represented in the scenes and characters, and there is a 16×9 template which gives a cinematic feel.

My one concern when reviewing Storyboard That for film-makers is that users don’t get a lot of flexibility when it comes to perspective, which could be problematic if users are considering cinematography as well as story. For this reason, Storyboard That is probably most useful in the early stages of film storyboarding.

Business users

Storyboard That is pitched as a way of presenting information about product development. It’s great to see the folks at Storyboard That encouraging people to build stories around their products, which is something we are fans of at BrightCarbon. With the characters, business users can create personas for different clients or customers and bring their needs to life in a more visual way than a simple bullet point list.

Storyboard That’s SoLoMoFoo example shows how business users can create product stories.

However, I do feel that the cartoon style of the assets would be inappropriate for most business cases. The assets in the Web and Technology folder may be more suitable, but strict corporate brand guidelines can prevent users from even putting off-brand icons into their presentations.

As I mentioned when discussing eLearning, the scenes and storyboards are exported as images which means that they are static and not so easy to animate. Static images work fine for handouts, but animation is a key part of creating a compelling face-to-face presentation or webinar. This is another blow to Storyboard That’s usability in a business presentation context.

Storyboard That review: Conclusion

Storyboard That comes into its own in the educational context for which it was likely designed. It has the potential to be a useful behind-the-scenes tool for film-makers, and a great tool for internal storytelling in a business context.

If you enjoyed this review of Storyboard That why not check out some of our other product reviews, like this review of presentation creation software Visme, or our breakdown of a PowerPoint add-in called PPT Productivity.

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Written by

Sandy Rushton

Senior consultant

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