Nothing beats the impression of a charcoal sketch for a storyboard. However, storyboard artists are few and expensive for small budget commercials and features. Softwares like Frameforge 3D studio do provide a fillip to most of us for whom sketching is just doodling matchstick caricatures on tissue papers of a coffee shop. I do sketch, but not proficient enough to make the character look the same in different frames! leave aside other issues as incorporating perspective of extreme wide to tele lens look in a sketch. So, I make do with a software. Storyboarding softwares are not simple too. I had to spend hours on PC learning the manipulation of body part movements and make them look real.
Coming to another issue of how perfect a storyboard should be? A lot depends for whom is the storyboard being prepared. A lot of us would like to have the perfection as that of comic book graphics. Certainly desirable but as I believe storyboard artists are few and (luckily) busy. Some directors would be happy with just matchstick figures if it is just for their reference and not for pitching the story (or the narrative execution) to a producer. And why not, it helps clear their mind as to how the story flows. However, the converse is also true. I remember a presentation by a European animation artist working in US where he showed a Chinese student animator who sent his showreel of kung-fu fighting with just matchstick figures and believe me it was much more attention grabbing than many other high end animation work because that Chinese student displayed clear understanding of body parts motion, human movement clubbed with a fairly rapid change of images sizes that it was impossible not to watch it.
Coming back to storyboarding, if you ask your peers if they’d prefer a storyboard in colour or in Black and White, I am sure a majority are going in favour of black and white. Reasons are many but I have to pen them down for my next blog.