Storyboard Tools - the JAVA rewrite

Last Updated: December 10th, 2012

This page is to let you know what's happening with Storyboard Tools, which I have been rewriting in JAVA (hence it is now known as "JStoryboard Tools").

A beta version is now available for download

The rewrite was necessary for a number of reasons which I won't bother you with here. Suffice to say that The new rewrite provides greater flexibility and hopefully will work on many more platforms than the original which was written in 32-bit Delphi code.

There are a number of important differences between how the old version did things and this new JAVA rewrite.

Project Details

The Project Details form has more information and is slightly changed:

Project Details form

The most important thing to notice here is the Project Folder. This is the directory where you should store all the images relating to the project and any other related files. Whereas before, everything was stored in one massive project-file, now the images are stored separately as individual image files. If you try to load a project and an image-file is missing or an image-file is corrupted or locked, the software just adds an entry to its "error log" and continues loading the project. In other words, it doesn't give up and the whole thing is much more robust. You'll still need to back-up your work on an external drive though - no excuses!

The main viewer

The main viewer will have the same kind of "corkboard" look as before:

Main viewer screenshot

As before, each scene has its own tab, so it's easy to find your way around without too much scrolling.

One of the optional extras is a simple toggle that tells the software to display "incomplete" storyboards with a different color overlay. A storyboard is "incomplete" if some textual information is missing (the slug-line, the description, the continuity text or the location).

It breaks down as follows:

NO OVERLAY - the information is complete, the image is not currently selected.
YELLOW OVERLAY - the storyboard is incomplete, the image is not selected.
RED OVERLAY - the storyboard is incomplete, the image is selected
PURPLE OVERLAY - the storyboard is complete, the image is currently selected.

You don't need to use this feature at all, it's just a handy optional extra. If you deselect it, only the purple overlay is used.

You select an image by clicking on it and to deselect it, just click on it again. Double-click or CTRL+click brings up the properties for that storyboard.

Scene Properties

Each scene now has its own set of properties and there is also the notion of a default set of properties which can be applied to individual scenes, or to all scenes:

Scene Properties screenshot

Note that more aspect ratios are available, but the notion of fixed sizes for images has gone. You specify the number of pixels for the width of the displayed image and the programme works out the height from the aspect ratio specified by you. Also you can limit the maximum allowed width for internally stored images in order to save memory.

Storyboard Properties

When you edit the properties of a storyboard you will get the following form:

Edit Storyboard Information - screenshot

The most important thing to notice here is that the image has a filename associated with it. As mentioned previously, in the new version, when you create a new project, you will specify a folder in which the images relating to the project will be stored. Previously the images were all stored as part of one enormous project file - not any more. Although a copy of the image is stored in memory, it's the image file that is important.

Edit images with your favourite app

When you click on Edit Image the program will do one of two things: Either option will allow you to edit the FILE, which you can then reload by clicking the Upload selected file button.

You can specify which behaviour occurs by clicking on the Select image editor button. This will bring up a simple form that looks like this:

Select Image Editor screenshot

This allows you to specify whether you want to adopt the default behaviour of your desktop (and allow the system to select the editor for you) or to manually select the image editor yourself. If you do, the Select file button will bring up a file-selector and allow you to choose it. The name and path will then appear in the text-window of the form.

The information from this form is very computer specific so it is stored in a separate properties file, not the main project.

Link storyboards to ANY kind of file

Previously, ST allowed you to link a movie-file with a storyboard. In the new rewrite, you can link ANY NUMBER of ANY TYPE of file(s) with a storyboard and open them with whatever app. is the default for the file's type. So for example you could link an RTF file, in which case you word-processor app. (whatever that might be) will be invoked to open it.

Linked Files form

If one of your linked files happens to be an image file, you can SWAP that image with the currently selected image for your storyboard. This is done using a simple pop-up menu:

Swapping images with pop-up menu

Having first selected the image, selecting Swap with current image file will remove it from the list and the current storyboard image will appear instead. When you click OK, the information on the parent form will be corrected and the image you originally selected will become the one used for the storyboard.

More location information

When you click on the Manage Locations button you get the following screen:



This maintains the list of real-life locations where the piece of film corresponding to the storyboard will be shot. Previously this was just a list of names but now you can have more information concerning each location.

Printer Settings

The new rewrite gives you a lot more flexibility over the look-and-feel of the printed output:

Printer-related settings form

Since many modern printers can automatically print on both sides of the page, there is an option "Flip L/R margins on alternating pages" which takes advantage of this, so you can have a bigger margin along the edge used for binding.

Loads more printing options!

There are now so many ways to print that I've now separated them into three menus, each has its own printer-settings form, which are independent of each other. Here is a break-down of the printing functions for each menu:

Printing menu

This is for printing an array of storyboards on ordinary paper (typically A4 or U.S. Letter). The printing functions are:

Index cards menu

Some users wanted the ability to print individual storyboards on index-cards - so here it is!

Lists menu

These functions print tables of textual information, useful for shooting:

Example Output

Here is a PDF showing printed output of a storyboard project:

CLICK HERE for the PDF (864 KB)

Popup menu

The new version has a handy pop-up menu for convenience:

Popup menu

The Visualiser

In the original version the Visualiser was an entirely separate tool. It is now fully intergrated into the main program and all data associated with it forms an intergral part of the project file. The Visualiser is more compact and as before, it allows you to play the images in sequence and add editing effects ("transitions") between images such as fades, wipes and dissolves, which are now much improved in terms of quality and speed.

Visualiser screenshot

Above is a screenshot from the Visualiser tool, showing an effect called a "Circle Wipe" in mid transition.

You can either play the transitions manually using the "T-bar" slider to the left, or you can hit the PLAY button. This then plays the shots in sequence and you can specify the time for each and every shot (or just use the default values). In "PLAY" mode, the current image for x seconds, where x is the Display-time for that shot. It then performs the transition over y seconds, where y is the transition time. You can also specify how many steps are involved in each transition. For a more smooth, fine-grained look, increase the number of steps. If your machine is a bit sluggish, decrease the number of steps.

Pressing the STOP button exits PLAY mode.

Pressing FFWD does one of two things: if you are not in PLAY-mode, it jumps to the very last image. If you are in PLAY mode, it effectively triples the speed at which the playing occurs.

In a similar fashion, the REWIND button either jumps to the first image, or, if you are in PLAY mode, it will play the shots and transitions backwards at triple speed.

Here is a screenshot of the Visualiser operating in PLAY mode. Here I have captured the snapshot in the middle of a "Dissolve" effect. Note that some of the other features are temporarily disabled during PLAY mode:

Visualiser during PLAY mode

The small arrow buttons either side of the video-style controls step through the images without doing the transition effect.

The beta version is now available, so why not download it and give it a try?

CLICK HERE for more information

Ian.

www.freefilmsoftware.co.uk