What exactly is a video script?Simply put, a video script is a written document that describes the writer's idea for the video- what they want to SEE and HEAR on the screen.
I know exactly what the video should be, why do I even need a video script?The script has all of the same benefits that storyboards have in general! A completed script makes it easy to get sign off from stakeholders and subject matter experts, eliminating surprises down the line. The script gives you a chance to make sure the video is accomplishing its goal.
Ultimately, the script saves you time. No, really! It's a fact that changes in footage or voice over made AFTER you've completed your video and have submitted it for a first review are HARDER and more time consuming. Taking the time and care to really write a detailed and accurate script prevents this from happening as often (there are still exceptions, stuff happens) and significantly reduces the time you spend on reviews and changes.
Alright, you've convinced me... How do I start this scripting thing?At the basics, a script contains two things: what you want to see on screen and what you want to hear on screen. When I'm writing a training script, I usually start with the voice over or narration/dialogue because it's usually where the bulk of the "teaching" occurs. After that, I go back and describe what should be happening while the voice over talent or actor is speaking.
There are TONS of templates out there that give you different ways to accomplish this - even really fancy script writing software - but I like to keep it simple. I use a Word document [attached to the tip, in case you don't already have it!] with a 4 column table. Let’s take a closer look!
- Row number: This column is for organizational purposes and shouldn't be edited. It gives you a reference point when recording footage, audio and during editing ["re-record audio on line 5"]
- NOTE: A NEW row should start whenever the action on screen changes.
- Examples: If you click on a link and a new window opens, anything that happens AFTER the window opens should take place in a new row. If two people are talking on screen and you want to cut to a close up of one person, that should happen on a new row
- Text/Chapter: This column serves two purposes:
- Divide your video up into chapters and sections: Long videos can have chapters, all videos should have sections. Not every row needs to be labeled in this column.
- Text you want to see on screen: Important email addresses, phone numbers, the name and title of someone speaking, an important line from the voice over that you want to reiterate - any of this would count as text you want to see on screen and would go hear.
- TIP: If the text you want to see on screen is written in the Audio column, type "bold text appears on screen" and be sure to bold the words in the audio column.
- Video/Picture: Anything written in this column is what you want to SEE - footage to be recorded, pictures, logos, charts, arrows, call outs, people and the associated actions ["arrow flies in from left," "man walks off screen right," etc.]
- Audio: Anything written in this column is what you want to HEAR - voice over, dialogue, sound effects and music should all be described here.
- REMINDER: I start my scripts with this column, since most of the teaching in training videos happens in the audio.