Storyteller 1

Amazon this morning launched a free online storyboarding tool through its Amazon Studios movie and television production group — aiming to give writers and filmmakers a new and easy way to visualize their scripts and share them with others for feedback.

The tool, called “Storyteller,” is making its debut as a beta. It scans a script and identifies locations, scenes and characters from scene descriptions, using those cues to automatically create an initial storyboard with characters, props and backgrounds pulled from a large library of images.

Amazon says in a news release, “Filmmakers can recast or change locations, or they can upload their own images. Storyteller places the cast in front of the right background so that filmmakers can focus their time on the emotion and energy of scenes by using pan and zoom, changing the facial expressions and positions of characters, adding vehicles or props or adding captions with descriptions or additional dialogue.”

One catch: To use the tool, filmmakers need to upload the script to Amazon Studios, which gives the company an exclusive 45-day option to purchase the rights. The standard rate is $200,000 for movie scripts and $55,000 for an episodic series — which would no doubt be welcomed by many writers, but it’s still an important factor to keep in mind for anyone considering using the new Storyteller tool.

Amazon also makes it clear that Storyteller is a work in progress, noting in an FAQ that it’s “limited in the kinds of scripts it can visualize. For example, we don’t have robots and spaceships, but maybe we should. We need help from storytellers like you to make it better. During the Beta period, we’ll regularly ask for feedback on how Amazon Storyteller works for you, and ensure it delivers an even better experience in future releases.”

Amazon Studios is using a crowdsourced model to solicit content and shape its movie and television projects, with financial rewards for the best work. The company last week announced plans to produce five original television series following public voting on 14 pilot episodes last month.

Here are more screenshots of Storyteller, via Amazon.

Storyteller 6

Storyteller 5

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Storyteller 3

Storyteller 2

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