Video Script Writing

Translating a visual business story into a shooting script

Writing a compelling video marketing script is hard work and takes a lot of practice (or experienced help). However, the hard work is worth the effort. Marketing videos with a well planned out and concise message produce outstanding marketing results.

Once the story has been written in the traditional way… in text, we must translate that text into the sights and sounds that comprise a camera shoot or animated video. A video script is a blueprint. Its purpose is to communicate to everyone involved in the production exactly what’s to be done and how. Visual scriptwriting is a different skill from business, fiction or journalistic writing. It’s an art and a science and it takes a lot of time and effort to learn.

Writing for the Ear

Those who write for print enjoy some advantages. A reader can reread a sentence if they don’t get it the first time. If a scene isn’t understood in a video, however, the meaning is lost. When we read, we see words in groups. This helps us grasp the meaning. When we listen, information is delivered one word at a time. To make sense out of a sentence we must retain the first words in memory while adding all subsequent words, until the thought is complete. If the sentence is too long or complex, meaning is missed or confused.

The overriding consideration in scriptwriting is clarity. This includes making it easy for actors to speak, and making it easy for an audience to understand. Through proper phrasing and word emphasis, a skilled actor can add meaning and help to ensure understanding.

Script Format

Video scripts are usually divided into video (sight)and audio (sound) columns, with visual descriptions in the left video column. The shot-by-shot two-column relationship of audio to video functions like two synchronized time lines.Script

The video column describes what the viewer will see including: the background to a scene, the props (desks, chairs, computers, etc.), the characters (whether live actors or animated), motion graphics (charts and other graphic elements), kinetic typography (titles, word balloons), static images (e.g. establishing shot of an office building, headshot of the CEO), computer or smart phone screens (product demo captures), and more.

The audio column contains all the sounds: voice over narration, dialogue, music and sound effects.

Both are synched to a running timeline so everyone involved in the production knows exactly which sounds will be heard while each visual is being seen. This is the true power of video, and the reason we can compress time to deliver more information in shorter time frames.

The eyes and ears are receiving information simultaneously.