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Create boards for pitches

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Brett Frame
Create boards for pitches
on May 11, 2008 at 4:09:43 pm

Hello All,
I have seen a number of high end designers post on their sites boards they created, but weren't picked, for pitches. These boards look amazing. Is anyone else doing this and is there a job level at where this begins.

I live in a city, population 150K. We have done a few simple boards here and there. Each time we are told "you didn't have to go to the trouble." At what level should you be showing up with boards and how detailed a board?

Thanks for any insight,

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walter biscardi
Re: Create boards for pitches
on May 11, 2008 at 4:18:42 pm

[Brett Frame] "I live in a city, population 150K. We have done a few simple boards here and there. Each time we are told "you didn't have to go to the trouble." At what level should you be showing up with boards and how detailed a board?"

At every level, really. When you show up with boards, then that shows you are operating at a very professional level and have given the pitch a lot of thought. Even if the client says "you didn't have to go through the trouble," trust me, when you leave, the first thing they're going to talk about is how prepared you were and that the boards were impressive.

In today's world where anyone with a couple thousand dollars can hang a shingle and call themselves a "production company," it's the little things that help you stand out above the crowd. Showing up prepared with boards is one of those things.

Besides if you stay in the habit of creating boards for all your pitches, then it's just another day when you are specifically asked to come in with boards. You've already been doing it all along so it's no big deal.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

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Beau Brotherton
Re: Create boards for pitches
on May 12, 2008 at 12:49:18 am

This is very interesting. Does anyone have any successful boards that they would like to share?


Beau Brotherton
Macbook Pro 2.4GHz, Intel Core 2Duo, 4GB

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Mark Suszko
Re: Create boards for pitches
on May 12, 2008 at 5:23:17 pm

And clients either don't admit it or don't realize it, but often they don't have the ability to really visualize the concepts, how they will execute, and how they interact. So you go ahead and do a lot of work and then some client guy looks at the rough cut and shoots it down because "it's not like I pictured it". Boards up front put everybody on the same page, and so if they don't like it at the boards stage, you can fix it much easier and cheaper than after it's been shot and posted. The more time or money you're going to spend, the more sense it makes to board things out, even if just stick figure sketches.

I board out many things for myself, for my own use, even if it's just stick figures on the back of envelopes. It is just a good organizational tool. You can buy or make script sheets with 2-column TV style for A/V and a third column of boxes for sketches, they are useful for trying different ideas. MArkertek I think also sells pads of larger panels for traditional boards.

Antics is a very nice 3d program for creating boards and animatics, but I stick to simpler, cheaper things like a free older copy of Poser and maybe google sketch-up if I want to draw out something for pre-viz without having art drawing skills.

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Todd Terry
Re: Create boards for pitches
on May 12, 2008 at 5:50:43 pm

[Mark Suszko] "some client guy looks at the rough cut and shoots it down because "it's not like I pictured it". Boards up front put everybody on the same page,"

Sometimes, but there are exceptions to every rule.

Last year we were doing a big (and pretty expensive) industrial, and the lady in charge of marketing at this very big company has absolutely no ability to visualize things whatsoever (how do these people get these kinds of jobs?).

She wasn't going to be able to join us for the shoot of the biggest and most complicated scene (a "motivational speaker" type scene doing employee training in a big theatre, audience extras, custom signage, lights and smoke effects, etc.)... so it was storyboarded within an inch of its life. After the scene was cut, she said "Oh. Ohhhh. I didn't know it was going to look like that. That's not what I wanted at all. I thought we would just have this guy talking to a couple of people in a classroom."

Which of course is not what she had asked for, described, or signed off on.

I could have hit her with a shovel.

Instead of that though, I just smiled and said we would be happy to do her new idea, and that the good part is that it would cost only about a tenth of the unused scene that we would be billing her for anyway.

It just goes to show that even boards sometimes can't impart the vision.

Me personally, I usually operate opposite of Mark and Walter I guess... I never make boards unless I absolutely have to. To me the downside of them is that a client will see them and then be mentally "locked in" to that scene. And when a final product varys from the board (which it almost always does at some point), it automatically provokes the "Oh, I thought you were going to do it such-and-such way" response, even when the new idea is much better than the one on the storyboard. While I will always sort of "pre-direct" a scene in my head, my vision invariably changes once I'm on location or on set and I don't like being locked into a preconceived notion, even if it is my own. We might do some pre-vis on something that has complex and precise blocking, but that is usually not the case.

When needed we do use a really good artist (he's basically a comic book, oops, er, graphic novel illustrator) and he does really beautiful boards.... but I would much rather take the money that goes into producing the boards and put it on the screen whenever possible.

Unless we need them to get the job. Then we will do boards all day.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Create boards for pitches
on May 12, 2008 at 6:53:09 pm

Heh, Todd, I think everybody's got at least ONE story like that. Didn't happen to me, but I heard of two separate instances where the clients liked the animatic so much, they just said to run that.

And they did!

Well, at least it was *distinctive*! :-)

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Mick Haensler
Re: Create boards for pitches
on May 13, 2008 at 12:14:00 pm

I just got a sizeable job for a non profit promotional piece that i boarded. I made my own board sheets in MS Word. I kept the boards extremely simple using shot descriptions and rough graphics mostly. They weren't elegant by any stretch, but the client was able to grasp my concept easily and communicate it to his board of directors. I even used a few stick figures.

Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media

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Mike Cohen
Re: Create boards for pitches
on May 13, 2008 at 2:09:01 pm

This was discussed in a thread not too long ago. A recent experience of mine:
I made a simple treatment, text only - the client questioned some of my suggested interview questions and shooting scenarios - that is good since i was guessing.
Next i sent them a simple storyboard in Word, using stock photos, along with a disclaimer saying the photos are just to get the feel of the shots, not actual depictions but close enough.
instead of looking at the big picture, they focused on problems with the stock photos (nurses don't dress like that in our hospital, we can't show patients, etc..).
Thus, one needs to consider the audience for a storyboard. As others have suggested, if the client is not visually oriented, the first images they see from you may be burned into their eyes and skew their feedback on future images.


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Brett Frame
Re: Create boards for pitches
on May 13, 2008 at 4:11:17 pm

Thanks all for the input.

It looks as though many variable come into play... clients ability to visualize, project budget, etc.

We will take all of your input into account as we move forward.

Thank you,

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Brendan Coots
Re: Create boards for pitches
on May 13, 2008 at 6:03:32 pm

My studio recently took on a job for a fairly well known brand, and it being a reasonably complex motion graphics job we boarded it out. Here's what happened:

- We ended up doing 12 revisions to these boards because, no matter what we said, the client couldn't grasp that they were not meant to be exact to the letter, including the exact wording of on-screen marketing text, etc..

- They eventually asked that we modify the contract to guarantee the final product would match the boards, which we agreed to thinking it would benefit us by keep this rather flighty, disorganized client on track.

- Actual production begins. Client receives the first major draft, but there's a problem - our point of contact never showed their internal creative director any of the 12 board revisions, and he hates it (naturally)

- In the end, the client ends up forcing us to deviate so dramatically from the boards that the final product took a major hit in terms of message, cohesion etc. despite our warnings to the client.

- Once the job is wrapped, we are informed that they still need to show the execs (?!?!), and needless to say there is a 4-page list of changes that require retooling the entire project to accommodate.

The lesson? Boards are great, but it all comes down to your client and whether or not they are used to boards. They can end up introducing deep misunderstanding, get clients focused on the wrong things etc. as the many stories in this thread show.

If you're going to do boards, I would just be careful to inform your clients what the boards are and are not meant to be.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

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Mark Suszko
Re: Create boards for pitches
on May 13, 2008 at 7:23:01 pm

I think rather that the lesson here is to know who the real client is before you tey so hard to please some low-level crazy person, you need the REAL client, I.E. the guy what signs the checks. It was unfortunate that you didn't know you weren't working with the real people in charge. It has happened to me before as well. I have a little haiku on my wall for this:

When I said "approved",
it's not like that is the end;
five more must sign off.

There is no sure fire way to know who the real authority is every time out, when dealing with a large organization. But one way is to see who actually signs the bill/check for progress payments. THAT is the person you really have to make happy.

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Christopher Wright
Re: Create boards for pitches
on May 13, 2008 at 8:38:24 pm

That is the problem with a lot of my larger corporate clients as well. They can't grasp anything about a visual project or ad campaign(with or without treatment/storyboard), they don't know anything about the process of shooting and editing, usually have a company "media" guy who is even more clueless (and self important/absorbed) than the project "director," can't tell the difference between a rough cut or polished finished piece (even though they have been told many times that the final color correction, music choice, VO talent, special FX, etc. are all to be added after a general consensus is reached by all on at least the rough cut), and no one wants to take the blame when the "real" boss sees the "finished product" and doesn't like it. More and more I have to just take the project and take my best intuitive shot as to what image and message the company wants to convey, go ahead and polish the piece up as much as possible with my own vision (despite what the "art director" tells me), and then show that to the company. Fortunately that has worked in 95% of all my corporate projects over the last few years. No one wants to be in the edit suite anymore. They all want a finished, polished piece that they don't have to think about or sweat over, and then they will all try to take the creative credit for it if the boss likes it! This seems to be the conundrum of modern posting!

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Gav Bott
Re: Create boards for pitches
on May 14, 2008 at 1:06:14 am

All power to the stick man.

I do rough boards before a meeting just for myself - then draw them in person during the meeting "so what you mean is you want this to look like this?"

Stick men all round.

And everyone gets the feeling that they have had their input considered.

Of course it doesn't avoid the changes at the back end that everyone else is bemoaning, but I find it helps at the start. Then move on to animatic if they like that kind of thing, and understand that it's not the finished product.

The Brit in Brisbane
The Pomme in Production - Brisbane Australia.

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