We were recently hired by company headquartered in Arizona to develop a series of storyboards for an upcoming marketing campaign. Ordinarily, this is done by creating a sequence of panels graphically showing scenes play by play. It’s an effective means of defining how shots will be framed, the motion of the camera, and so on. While there’s a place for traditional storyboards, that type of static medium tends to leave so much out. And because it’s inanimate, nuance, texture, and feeling cannot be adequately represented. And unless you’re working with a client who can see the product in their mind before its created, like movie producers, many clients can have a difficulty seeing the end product.
As we were working through this particular storyboard exercise, we decided to build our client a video prototype to help them catch the vision of what this project could become. What had the potential to be the standard white sheets of paper dressed with sketches and bullet points ended up becoming a video exploding with sound and color. As it turns out, this evening’s presentation was with our client’s board of directors who had planned on discussing our material and ideas. Not expecting a video prototype, the client was ecstatic with what they saw and felt that it articulated their message and tone perfectly. In fact, it served to do much more than show where we were headed – it gave the board members a clearer vision of the possibilities and consequently, stirred up a flurry of ideas and dialogue among themselves. You can’t really put a price on that type of exchange.
Prototypes are powerful tools. In this instance, our prototype was a storyboard in motion, and it was very effective. We’ve used them to secure business, raise venture capital, clarify a style or theme, test usability, prove the validity of an idea, and so much more. In many ways, prototypes are an exercise in foresight. They can take on a variety of forms depending on the nature of the project; whether they’re interactive, graphical, static, video or practical a solid prototype is an amplification of your vision.
We’ve found building prototypes a useful tool even in the initial brainstorming phase of a project. Early prototypes can help you feel your way around the creative landscape of possibilities. This isn’t to suggest that we fumble around blindly or tinker around recklessly; but rather, our experience in a broad spectrum of mediums allows us to almost instantly see solutions and ideas in our mind and prototypes are the means of translating them from thought to reality.
At M4, prototypes aren’t a means of flexing our creative muscles so much as a reflection of our understanding our client’s vision. It’s our way of saying “we understand” and is often a means of getting everyone centered on an idea or direction and usually the platform from which we move forward.