Writing scripts for movies, television, industrial videos, commercials, and web video all share one critical element required for success – you need to tell a good story. That means you have to know who your script will appeal to and why, before you write it.

Unless you are planning an unscripted video (this format still requires considerable preparation) the first step in the creation of an online video is the script. The script is the ‘what’ – it is the foundation for the entire video production process. Regardless of whether you plan to develop your script internally or hire a video production company to assist you, here are six tips to help make the production process a little bit easier:

Video Length You should have a good idea of how long you want the completed video(s) to be before you start. Are you creating a 2 minute corporate overview, a 4 minute detailed product demo, or 6 minute video case study. Online, shorter is better. Consider 150 words a minute as a general guide. {Try reading out loud for a minute at a comfortable pace and see how many words you get through.} Time guidelines will help you determine how long your script should be. If you are shooting for 3 minutes and your script is 1000 words you need to start cutting.

Approvals  Depending on your internal structure (and your aversion to risk) you may need to get internal approval on your video script. The script stage is the best place to get approvals and make changes. Don’t wait until the shoot to make your decisions or worse, after the shoot during the post-production stage. Script changes here are either expensive or impossible. One thing to be aware of during the script approval stage is script bloat. Everyone will have something they want included and the path of least resistance is often to just include everything. That could result in a longer and inferior final product. Having a target length helps limit this problem.

Structure of the script Try to break the script down into smaller pieces. If it is longer than 4 or 5 minutes you may want to break the video up into two or three discreet pieces that the viewer can choose to navigate between. (It’s better to offer the viewer a choice other than just to leave your video.) If the script is short you should still break it down into smaller discreet pieces. This gives you more flexibility at the edit stage and also makes the production (filming) process much easier.

Teleprompter If your video includes a script you should consider renting a teleprompter and operator. It will save you hours of production time and might just save the whole shoot.

Onscreen elements Even if you are not going to the effort of creating a proper storyboard for your video you should at least map out the onscreen elements and actions that are planned to accompany the narration. Is there onscreen text to support the script? Are there cut-aways to screen shots, B-roll or other onscreen graphics required? Getting this all down (and approved) in script format first will save you a lot of time and money.

Script Dry Run Before you bring the film crew in, schedule a dry run. You can’t think of everything. Your location, the software you were going to demo, the presenter, the flow or pace of the presentation… something is not going to work the way you thought it would. Better to catch it before the crew arrives.





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