Creatively Corporate

The Basics of the Video Script

The Basics of the Video Script

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I admit that I once had dreams of writing the next great film script. And of course after I wrote it, a big-time agent would find me, he’d sell my script to a big studio, I’d win an Oscar, and I’d be heralded as one of America’s up and coming cinematic talents. But I got into corporate communication and the rest is history.

Of course, I went to film school, so I had the knowledge of video production and script writing, if not the motivation to follow through. For corporate communicators just getting started in video creation, treading into this unfamiliar territory – for which they don’t have the formal education – can be frustrating.

One key element of beginning your corporate cinematic masterpiece is to have a well organized script. You don’t have to be the next Woody Allen, but knowing the basics of scripting can help you produce more polished, engaging video content.

Keep in mind that video scripting is used primarily for conceptual videos, rather than interview-based videos, which are mostly built in editing. At the bottom of this post, I embedded a video I produced for a former employer. As an example, I created this script so you can see how a video can be realized if you have a detailed document from which to work. Feel free to download this one and use as a template.

Before you begin writing your own, keep in mind what the purpose of your script really is:

The Blueprint for Your Video
Think of your script as a blueprint; you’re using it to plan out the video you want to create. In it you list all the visual and audio materials from which you need to build. The script-writing process is when you put them together and establish your vision for the final product. Make sure you’re thorough and think through the best way to tell your story. Have a beginning, middle, and end, as well as a clear direction that will guide your production. Don’t be afraid to write too much. It’s OK to script more content than you really need because you can cut out the fat later in editing.

A Checklist
The real benefit will be evident during production. The script will be your checklist of shots to record so that you don’t forget to shoot any important parts. Just go through and check off the scenes as you shoot them.

But it should also be your opportunity to think about any b-roll footage you might need. During the editing process, you might decide that an actor is on the screen too much. You like what he/she is saying, but you need some footage to break up the monotony. B-roll is a perfect way to accomplish this. So think about what b-roll material might serve you well in editing and note it on your script.

Two Basic Elements: Video and Audio
The basic structure of the script establishes what the audience will see and hear. That’s why most scripts are simply two columns – one for the video elements, and one for the audio.

Rather than build a two-column script from the start, when I write a script, I usually write the audio portion first – in other words, I craft what I want the actors to say. Then I copy and paste this content into the audio column and determine the visual elements that will correspond to each part. Now you have a side-by-side guide to help you visualize the final product and help you build an engaging piece of content. Again, the template I created for this post demonstrates the basic structure of the video script. If you want, please download it and use it as your own template for your video.

I hope this helps with your script writing and gives you the foundation for your next great corporate masterpiece. If you’ve already ventured into your own script creation, let me know what I’m missing here. What have you found helps you in the scripting and the shooting process? Let me know in the Comment section.

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