I recently finished a large animation project with many moving parts, which spanned about 3 months (approx. thrice the original schedule) and had the all-too-common problem of having too many chefs at the client's end. This is nothing out of the norm, but what was odd was that on the final day of animation, I was still being asked to provide updated storyboards.
This makes me ask; What is a storyboard?, How do clients perceive a storyboard?, how many different kinds of storyboard are there?, and How should it fit into my workflow?
In my experience, storyboards come in many different shapes and sizes, and are sometimes not even requested or expected, but I think they are always necessary.
Depending on the scale of the job and the level of trust/control from the client, the storyboard can just be a few sketches on whatever paper I can find, or a fully plotted-out pdf from InDesign, with images at finished quality. The images can just be fragments/highlights of the narrative, or it may need to be the full script, with space for mark-ups.
The ideal situation is when style frames are used. These show a handful of fully-designed stills as an indication of what the finished product will look like. A storyboard with supplementary style frames can be done in a looser style and created faster, so as to get the client signed off sooner, and move on to the all important animation stage!
In a nutshell, there is no one definition of what a storyboard is, but they are a crucial part of the process that help communicate to everyone from animators, illustrators, producers and directors, to the all-important client, what the plan is and what needs to happen to get it done.