Harry Potter Storyboard Study (Storyboard Number Four)

I wanted to have a look at some storyboards from more famous films that I myself have seen, to see how they ended up relating to the actual film, and this is one I found from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I was quite surprised at how different to the actual film the storyboard is, for in the movie, when Ron throws the broken tap, it does not hit the wall, but instead the troll. However, on this storyboard, one of the illustrations that stands out the most is the broken tap hitting the wall. I guess the director changed the flow of events to suit the film better. I was also strangely surpised how the drawing of Ron doesn’t look much like the actor Rupert Grint (though of course, why would it? It was something I just assumed, I guess).

I personally do not like the drawings on this storyboard as much as the previous one I studied. I find them more vague and harder to understand. I have more difficulty telling exactly what is going on from this storyboard. This could be because the scene is split into bigger chunks, and it would have perhaps been easier with more illustrations, or it could be because the drawings themselves aren’t as clear. I also don’t really like the direction of the storyboard (I prefer it to go across the page rather than down).

Although the direction arrows do give an indication of how the scene is supposed to turn out, I think they could have been clearer. For example, on drawing A there are a couple of arrows showing Ron picking up the broken tap. However, they don’t really stand out – it was a while before I even realised that they were there. It would greatly improve this storyboard if the arrows were more prominant. It would just make the directions extra clear and easier to understand, ensuring that each person reading it would see it in the same way. Otherwise, people may interpret it slightly differently.

This storyboard was closer to a script than the others I have looked at. For example, it is quite heavily captioned: ‘Ron grabs a broken tap. As he stands, cam rises with him. He hurls the tap. “Hey, pea brain!” Cut. The tap hits the wall. Cut. The troll stops, confused.’ As you can see the artist has made it clear what’s happening throughout the scene, but they have heavily relied on the use of words, which contrasts to the other storyboards I’ve studied, which seem to focus more on making sure that the images tell the story.

Something that I really really liked about this storyboard, however, was, despite how unclear the arrow directions are, the ‘cutting’ times are made really apparent by being written inside their own box. An example of this can be seen underneath the dialogue “Hey, pea brain!” I think that the fact that they are written boldly inside their own box does a really good job in making it noticeable to the cameraman where each shot needs to be cut. It compares well to some of the other storyboards I have seen, which you have to look at quite closely to see ‘cut’, as it’s often hidden amoungst the other directions and information. By drawing a line around it, it really makes it stand out.

One other thing I liked was that on shot B, the storyboard artist has written inside the direction arrow what the instruction is. This, again, refers back to the artist relying heavily on words, but that could have been what the director wanted. In any case, the artist’s use of worded instructions works well here, as it makes it definate that Ron is going to throw the broken tap. Without the word ‘throw’ I think many people will have interpreted the illustration differently. In my opinion, for example, it looks like Ron has one hand reaching up to his ear, as though waving, and the other hand reaching out for the broken tap. This is a perfect example to show just how important the direction arrows are in a storyboard.

Harry Potter Storyboard example, taken from Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone (2001)

This storyboard is also a good example in showin ghow storyboards can be helpful for people other than the obvious camera men and directors. The costumes drawn on it give an idea of what the characters should look like, and the drawing of the troll will give an idea of how the special effects team should start, or adapt, their troll animation. It will also help set designers, prop designers, and even the people who work on the sound effects (shot C shows the broken tap hitting the wall; there is a star shape drawn where wall and tap collided, showing the sound effect people where a loud bang/ sharp crash will be necessary). Although all of the storyboards I have studied have different qualities, and all look slightly different in appearance, they all seem to do the same job in making sure that everyone (whether that be the cameraman, set designer or editor) is on the same track and thinking along the same lines as the director. This ensures that the whole film making process will run smoothly, minimising the amount of otherwise inevitable confusion, misunderstanding and possible confrontation. A good thing to have all around, really. 🙂


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