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2 Tutorials that teach Storytelling
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Author: mario fierro-hernandez

Recognize the various elements of storytelling and how it is applied to the design process.

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Hi everyone. My name is Mario and I'd like to welcome you to today's lesson on storytelling. So we'll look at storytelling and the creative process and talk about why it's important. So as always, feel free to stop, fast forward, and rewind as you see fit. And then when you're ready to go let's get started.

So storytelling is a pretty simple concept and one that we're all familiar with. For visual design it's a great component for presenting work throughout the design process. And it's important because every company wants to be identified using a main narrative. And storytelling becomes a strategy that engages the consumer in knowing what the company is all about, where they're going and where they hope to end up.

And a good story can help wrap potentially boring quantitative information into exciting qualitative information. That serves as an emotional appeal to the consumer. So quantitative information is information based on quantities or numbers, for example statistics. And qualitative is information valued for its characteristics. So let's check out this old TV commercial for this watch.

And for graduation, an event of a lifetime, give Bulova, the gift of a lifetime, the amazing new Bulova self-winding watch. It winds itself automatically. Just set it and forget it. The mere motion of your arm keeps it fully wound. 17 jewels, only $49.50.

This stunning Bulova Starlet, it's so charming with an enchanting expansion bracelet, a superb gift. Amazingly priced at only $29.75. The handsome, dependable Bulova Maxim, complete with matching expansion band, this exceptional timepiece is priced at only $29.75. Your friendly Bulova jeweler is now displaying over 300 distinctive 1951 models priced from $27.50 to $5,000. Each, regardless of price, embodies Bulova precision, beauty, and dependability. So for her, for him, forever. For the warmest thanks you ever received give the world's finest timepiece, Bulova, gift of a lifetime.

OK, so that was admittedly a little boring by today's standards. And I actually edited it quite a bit, it was a bit longer. But you can see they tell the story with clear narrative which is a simile source for a story. So just so you don't confuse the two, think of narrative as the structure of events. It deals with how events are told. And story is the sequence of events. So narrative is the design of the building and story is the tour through the building. But anyways, they were able to give you quantitative information like the number of varieties available, how much jewels the watch had, how much it costs, the price ranges, and turning it into qualitative information about the watch having beautiful quality, being recognized by many people, being a great gift, and of course lasting a lifetime. So it did all that while also providing that emotional appeal and attachment to the consumer with that whole graduation story.

Now in the development of developing a story there are three steps, writing a script, storyboarding, and production. And writing a script is a bit different than writing a design brief in that script's main objective is to flesh out a story. So here's the script for Argo, which won best picture this year. And you can see how a script is typically formatted into sections with numbered, noted, and labeled shots. So pretty cool to take a look at.

And then, of course, you take the script and go on to our second step, which is storyboarding. And storyboards translate or visualize the script into sequential images. And I want to stress sequential because imagery is used to convey the story so it's important to keep images in a logical order, much like you would a comic book. This example I think is a storyboard sheets for Indiana Jones, but I think it might be fan made, I'm not entirely sure.

But going back to the importance of a sequential storyboard, you'll notice there are three frames here. It's pretty clear that the bus arrives, the door opens, the carpet unfolds towards the camera, and then this weird potato chips guy steps out and runs towards the camera. If you were to take the first frame and place it last suddenly the entire story changes. Now the bag of chips guy is running towards camera and then behind him this bus and the doors opening and maybe he's running from someone or maybe someone important is about to arrive and he needs to prepare for something. I don't know.

Now the last step in developing a story is production, which is the shooting of footage or animation of graphics if this is a time based design like commercials or movies. So a time based designer will use the script and storyboard as a guide to follow in this final step. But storytelling isn't just for designing time based works like TV or film and in fact can be used across all media type.

So like this magazine ad, it has this implied narrative for the viewer. Clearly, this ad is advertising the cigarettes, but look at the story it created. Three guys gone fishing, man lights up a cigar or cigarette, and he gets lucky I guess, Lucky Strikes again, and he catches a swordfish back there. And now him and his two buddies are talking about it and he's clearly the cool guy, I guess. And this sort of throws us back to that old expression of the picture being worth a thousand words and pictures having stories to tell. Still images can tell stories just as well as moving images. And it's apparent in this example and many, many types of media around you as well.

Well, that concludes today's lesson. We'll finish up with our key terms of narrative, quantitative, qualitative, script, and storyboard. I hope you've enjoyed today's lesson on storytelling. My name is Mario and I will see you next lesson.

Terms to Know

A synonym for story.


Information valued for its characteristics.


Information based on quantities or numbers (e.g. statistics).


A writing format that is linked to time-based media such as film and television.


A collection of drawings or images that visualizes a story from a script.