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July 21, 2023

Script writing 101

The purpose of scriptwriting is to create the main concept of your video production in written form. It provides a predetermined look at what will be said and what scenes will be shot to match the overall message(s) being conveyed. Once written, the script will help determine and prepare the many different aspects that will come together to make the final product.

 

Writing a script will also give you a better idea of the direction you would like to go with your strategy. An effective script will outline the entire project, including the core message in a way that ensures a top-quality production. Additionally, it can provide a better idea of who you want to be in the video and what their role will be.

 

Scriptwriting is the time to define the purpose, the messages that the video is promoting, and how the content will connect with your audience. The strategy behind the script is vital to the success of the video as it must deliver its message(s) in a way that the audience will resonate with.

 

Consumers do not want to simply have a whole bunch of information spewed in their general direction. People want to learn about products and services through the special art of storytelling.

 

Your brand storytelling must take into consideration:

  • Mood and feel of the video.
  • Tonality of the speakers and voiceover.
  • Set design including lighting, furniture, and decor.
  • Integration of third-party content; this is especially important for some companies as video content may be produced by another office or supplier.

 

SCRIPTING FOR VOICEOVER VS. ON-CAMERA VS. ON PAPER

 

Writing scripts for voiceover artists is slightly different than cast scripting as on-the-fly adjustments are harder to make, and at times, not possible. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Determine the level of formality and maintain a consistent tone through the entire clip.
  • Pay attention to your word choices. If at the beginning of the clip you say, “Please try our service!”, then you should continue to use the same formal tone in the middle (“Note how it works”), and in the end (“Sign up today”).
  • Specify how important brand words or names should be pronounced. Some words may need to be written out in English to avoid discrepanices. Indicate whether certain words should be pronounced in their English or French vairants. 
  • Specify which vowel should be stressed in first and last names as well as specialized terms.  For example, the last name “Ivanov” could be pronounced either as “IvAnov” or “IvanOv”.
  • Count the number of words in the voice-over script. The length of the video clip depends on the length of the voice-over script. Use the following simple formula to calculate the approximate duration of the video: a French speaker speaks approximately 195 words per minute (3.25 words per second) and an English speaker speaks an average of 150 words per minute (2.5 words per second). Correlate the length of the voice-over text with what exactly is going on in a particular scene. For example, if there is only one image in a scene, then the viewer is probably going to lose interest in viewing it for more than 5-8 seconds. But if the scene consists of five different items, then the viewer would need a minimum of 10 seconds to read and take in what is on the screen. 
  • Write properly and try to avoid:   Stilted, awkward phrases: instead of “carry out an order”, say “order”; instead of “render assistance”, say “help”; instead of “carries out his work”, say “works”. Pleonasms: instead of “service to provide services”, simply write “service”; instead of “quickly and on time”, write either “on time” or “without delay”. Descriptive generalizations: instead of saying “qualified installers wanted”, write “every employee must have completed study of XXXX as well as a minimum 3-month-long internship.” Exaggerations: Do not make promises that you cannot keep. Be honest with your audience.
  • Read the text aloud. You will pick out phrases that might sound ambiguous or comical when read aloud. 
  • Read the entire text out loud from beginning to end while trying not to skip numbers, names, and website addresses. Rephrase sentences that sound out of place.
  • Point out to the voice-over artist how proper nouns and titles should be pronounced.
  • Ensure that your text is logically coherent. Imagine that the viewer knows nothing about your service: neither its name, purpose, nor the specific context in which it is used. Spell out the information sequentially, moving from the general to the particular and finally returning to the general. Specify exactly what you expect the viewer to do – provide a direct call to action.

Here is a typical sequence of steps to follow when presenting your product/service:

  1. Present your product/service and describe its purpose in a few words.
  2. Briefly describe the problems that your product/service solves.
  3. Specify exactly how your product/service can be used to solve these problems while being sure to include specific actions: type, press, click, go, send.
  4. If necessary, briefly describe any additional functionality that your product/service provides, for example: In addition, the product/service can…, besides that…, moreover…, etc.
  5. In conclusion, emphasize the advantages of using your product/service: Thus, you can… .
  6. End the video clip with a call to action: Visit, Sign up.

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