I like to look at different industries and see if their processes can translate to other industries and use cases. Recently, I read a summary of Pixar’s filmmaking process. This process could translate and be used more frequently within information technology projects, especially when the IT department is trying to get requirements and buy-in on UI design/functionality. Storyboarding could make the process more fun and collaborative, rather than just saying “email me your written requirements.”
“Making movies isn’t always about pride in what we can achieve as individuals…Making movies is about the pride you feel as a group”
Pixar has a design process in which alternating iterations of planning and implementation are all centered on storytelling. Pixar’s process is based on a few simple approaches. Films are visually developed, meaning their process is one that celebrates visual presentation rather than narrative. They use traditional skills, such as drawing, painting, sculpture, and storytelling in their planning process.
Pixar develops their ideas by using an iterative process that attempts to add value to the work of others. They work on their films as a team, collaboratively. Part of their ability to collaborate comes from a design process that involves the routine exchange of design products between the designers and animators.
Storyboard your UI and Functionality
The Storyboards which Pixar uses are like hand-drawn versions of the movie, and serve as the blueprint for the action and dialogue. Each storyboard artist receives script pages and/or a “beat outline” – a map of the characters’ emotional changes which need to be seen through actions. Color scripts highlight how the colors in the film will relate to the storyline. Once the script and colors are finalized, the modeling process begins. Using these as guidelines, the artists envision their assigned sequences, draw them out, and then “pitch” their work to the director. What I love about this process is that no filming or expensive movie development has occurred until the director and movie executives have approved the final script.
For information technology projects, storyboards should be used for both the UI screen design and workflow. Once the line of business has signed off on the final iteration of the story line, IT developers will be confident with the outcome of the project.
Half of the process of creating a computer-animated feature film has nothing to do with computers. The storyboard is a 2-D, comic-book-style rendering of each scene in the movie, along with snippets of important dialogue. During the storyboarding (agile) process, the script is polished and the filmmakers can start to see how the scenes will work from a visual standpoint. Pixar executives have confidence in the outcome before investing in expensive development and production costs. Put some Pixar into your next IT project!