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KristineS
10-16-2008, 05:09 PM
I've written several scripts for videos that our companies have done. I'm in the process of writing three more now.

I thought it might be a nice idea for those of us who have written such things to share our tips and tricks with those who might be thinking of doing a video for their business. There is an art to writing a useful video script.

I think my number one tip would be this, remember someone is going to have to speak the words you say. Keep your sentences simple and short. Don't use a lot of hard to pronounce or multi-syllable words. If you're script is full of tongue twisters the person who does your audio will have a much harder time.

What are some other tips we should pass along?

vangogh
10-16-2008, 09:30 PM
I don't have any tips to offer, but I would like to produce some videos so I'm interested in what everyone else can add.

One thing I would think important with videos is to practice the script before actually recording. It's probably a good idea to read it aloud at least once to make sure the words sound right.

KristineS
10-16-2008, 09:55 PM
That is a good idea vangogh. I read all our scripts out loud while I write them and then a couple of times after they're complete. That usually leads to some rewriting, because it allows me to see where the trouble spots are.

I'm lucky in that I also do all the audio for our videos. So I can write to suit the way I naturally speak. It does help.

vangogh
10-16-2008, 11:52 PM
Probably a good idea to get in some practice too for the actual recording.

KristineS
10-17-2008, 09:52 AM
Yeah, although we tend to change the scripts while we're recording as well. It can get interesting depending on how many people are in the room while we're cutting the audio.

BillR
10-17-2008, 01:53 PM
The hardest part about writing dialogue is making it sound real. I assume you are writing scripts for either marketing or training purposes (the most common I have seen).

Usually these end up sounding either very sterile due to perfect language usage or very contrived because they are trying to be "hip" or trendy.

If you are using the same talent for every show spend some time with them. Note their speech patterns. Copy phrases they say routinely and re-use them where appropriate. If you can make the talent comfortable and conversational it is a lot more convincing to the viewer.

I um....had some experience with this sort of thing in a previous life :) I worked for a public television station and did quite a lot of theater related stuff for fun.

vangogh
10-17-2008, 04:16 PM
Like I said I haven't produced any videos as of yet, but I have had jobs where I was supposed to be reading off a script. I never did. I would read the script to understand the general idea behind what was supposed to be said and then reworked it to make it more natural for me.

It's usually not a great idea to follow the script word for word.

KristineS
10-17-2008, 04:48 PM
Usually these end up sounding either very sterile due to perfect language usage or very contrived because they are trying to be "hip" or trendy.

If you are using the same talent for every show spend some time with them. Note their speech patterns. Copy phrases they say routinely and re-use them where appropriate. If you can make the talent comfortable and conversational it is a lot more convincing to the viewer.



This is great advice Bill. Since I'm the talent that does the audio as well as writes the scripts, I tend to write for my normal speech patterns. That helps a lot.

Another thing to remember is to make sure your talent has warmth in their voice and sounds interested in the subject. Nothing is worse than boring audio that drones on and on.

You are right by the way, the videos are for training purposes or marketing.

vangogh
10-17-2008, 08:58 PM
How do you come up with the scripts? Do you start with an outline for what you want to get across or do you just wing a first draft and then improve on that?

KristineS
10-17-2008, 09:44 PM
It kind of depends. Sometimes we'll shoot raw footage first and then I write a video around what was shot. Other times I just start with an idea, write a script and the script will have suggestions for what footage should be shot. Sometimes it's a mixture of the two.

We always know what the end aim of the video is. My job is to figure out how to get us there. I always write multiple drafts. The first one is mostly to get ideas on the table. It gets refined as we go. Usually the first draft goes to two or three people and they make suggestions and then I rewrite and the process starts again. I've written enough of these now that I know how to work with our people, so the process is more streamlined than it used to be.

BillR
10-18-2008, 02:02 AM
Another thing to remember is to make sure your talent has warmth in their voice and sounds interested in the subject. Nothing is worse than boring audio that drones on and on.


I've done a few speaking engagements at national conventions - these were NOT big deals - audiences were < 300 people. Pretty typical convention stuff.

I do best when I do NOT plan what I am going to say precisely but have detailed notes on what I am going to cover and practice it a few times. That way my voice inflection actually is genuine and not practiced for the words I choose at the moment.

vangogh
10-18-2008, 02:08 AM
It's interesting that you can shoot the footage first and then write the script around it. I can understand how that works, but I'm more the type that would want to go in with a clear idea of how I wanted it to be in the end. Not that the pre planning is the right way, just how I'm more comfortable.

KristineS
10-18-2008, 09:15 AM
I've done a few speaking engagements at national conventions - these were NOT big deals - audiences were < 300 people. Pretty typical convention stuff.

I do best when I do NOT plan what I am going to say precisely but have detailed notes on what I am going to cover and practice it a few times. That way my voice inflection actually is genuine and not practiced for the words I choose at the moment.

I've done the same thing Bill. My best talks are always the ones where I have detailed notes about the subject but don't have every word planned out. They definitely sound much more natural.

KristineS
10-18-2008, 09:17 AM
It's interesting that you can shoot the footage first and then write the script around it. I can understand how that works, but I'm more the type that would want to go in with a clear idea of how I wanted it to be in the end. Not that the pre planning is the right way, just how I'm more comfortable.

In the case of that particular video it was a how to instructional video for a product we offer. So the script was basically first you do this, then you do this. Having the footage actually helped because I could see how someone actually used the product and tailor the script to the actual process.

It wouldn't work in all cases, and in more wide ranging videos I usually write the script first and then we shoot. In this particular case, however, it really didn't matter which way we did it.

Ad-Vice_Man
10-24-2008, 06:37 PM
Another tip I'd ad is to spell out any difficult names, techno speak etc Phonetically especially if you're having a third party talent recording it for you.

For instance their is a County in Virginia near DC called Loudon County pronounced "(l-ow-dun) and everyone around here knows it... I regularly hear a radio commercial that was obviously recorded else-where because they pronounce it (la - Doon)

In a market where a radio commercial can cost upwards of $2,000 a spot, it's a god awful amount to pay to look silly and lose credibility.

KristineS
10-24-2008, 09:07 PM
That's a good point, and one I'd forgotten. We had some talent in one of our first videos and she couldn't pronounce the word "accessories" properly. We still make fun of that to this day. We quickly scrapped that video and made another one, but that word will live in infamy forever.

Marcomguy
10-26-2008, 05:27 PM
I've written video scripts and edited videos. Like Kristine, I say the words out loud as I write them. If something doesn't work, I go back and rewrite.

As for which comes first, the audio or the video: In an instructional video, where it's "do this, then do that," it takes several tries to get the audio and video in sync at the right pace. If I'm editing a video slideshow, then it's better to get the audio recorded first.

When writing for non-actors (aka clients), I try to keep their on-camera time short by cutting away to a slide or some other scene. Clients rarely have the time to memorize lines or rehearse, so they generally read their lines from cue cards. Reading from cue cards and looking (and sounding) natural while doing it is tough. Dave Letterman does it well, but then, he's Dave Letterman.

Another benefit of minimizing on-camera time is that you avoid the "talking head" shot.

Usually instead of having one person look into the camera and talk, I try to show two or three people having a conversation. Doesn't always work, because you need a two-camera setup to do it well.

vangogh
10-26-2008, 06:05 PM
What I want to start doing is producing screencasts, where I can offer a tutorial on something related to web design and development and probably seo as well. I think it's going to make the most sense to record the audio and video at the same time. For me I'm going to need to prepare what I want to do and say in advance.

I'll probably need to run through things once prior to recording and know what files, etc I'll need to have prepared in advance.

billbenson
11-01-2008, 01:35 AM
I just read the last couple of posts in this thread, so excuse me if I missed something above:

It absolutely amazes me on the food network on TV the mispronunciation of common words. A blatant example is the jalape&#241;o pepper. It is very rare to hear it pronounced properly. It is also common to hear it pronounced differently by the same chef on the same show. It's not something that abstract as it is commonly used across the country as an ingredient even though the most common origin is Mexican cuisine.

I'm really surprised that producers of an international show don't do a retake when a basic word is mispronounced over and over and over again.

Marcomguy
11-02-2008, 04:44 PM
Yeah, that is just sloppy production. Unusual or foreign words and names should be spelled out phonetically in the script.

Paul Elliott
12-14-2008, 02:11 AM
Another thing to remember is to make sure your talent has warmth in their voice and sounds interested in the subject. Nothing is worse than boring audio that drones on and on.

I used to have a lot of this done. I used professionally trained "voices." They could make reading anything sound very natural.

Another trap where scripts are to be read via a teleprompter is to avoid all caps. All caps are more difficult for the brain of the reader to decode and read smoothly without mistakes. It comes under the heading of "the psychomotor aspects of visual perception," but that subject would soon become "boring audio that drones on and on." :D

Paul

Paul Elliott
12-14-2008, 02:21 AM
What I want to start doing is producing screencasts, where I can offer a tutorial on something related to web design and development and probably seo as well. I think it's going to make the most sense to record the audio and video at the same time. For me I'm going to need to prepare what I want to do and say in advance.

Steve, it helps a lot to think of a specific person and teach that specific person as though he or she were in the room.

I used to do instructional videos for clients who were giving them in the form of lectures or speeches. Where the client was not very experienced with such presentations, I would hire 6-8 high school students to sit very quietly in the "audience" (never seen on the videos), so the speaker could have people to "talk to." It allowed them much more animation in their presentations. We would then add the "audience track" in audio and video to make it appear they were giving their speeches to an audience.


I'll probably need to run through things once prior to recording and know what files, etc I'll need to have prepared in advance.

I suggest you "give" it several times until your dry runs are very smooth. Alternatively you can do a lot of takes and editing.

Paul

vangogh
12-14-2008, 11:50 AM
Once I do one or two practice ones for myself I'm not all that concerned about how I'll do. Public speaking isn't my favorite thing, but when it's something like this where I'm really just talking to myself I'm fine. I'm naturally a story teller so it's not something I'm too worried about.

What I need to do first, besides find the time to practice, is finding the tools I'll use to create the screencasts. I had everything ready when I was on XP, but now that I'm on Mac I need to find the software again.