Let's start with an example.
Other possibilities for this video might include:
The re-written opening of the Egleston video shows how the medical emergency concept was used.
For some true-life tales of high-concept mishaps, check the section: Adventures in the Corporate/Industrial Trade.
Structure is the way you build your case to tell your story.
The most common structure for informational videos is:
The hospital emergency example could be structured in several ways:
It is helpful to understand the basic three-act dramatic structure, even when writing informational videos.
In the section discussing OUTLINES, I
have included examples of a structural outline and a content
outline. The outlining software I use is also described.
Content is what goes into the script. A video project with an unclear goal will turn the script into a kitchen sink full of extraneous information.
When in doubt, throw it out.
The absolute best you can hope for is that viewers will remember
three key points. Irrelevant content will make it more difficult
to remember even those three.
Less is More.
Of course, with corporate videos everyone in the organization
wants their side of the story told -- more and more stuff. For
the writer, it becomes a holy war to restrict the content, and by
so doing, empowering the script. Less is more.
Style concerns the look and feel of the video. Many corporate production styles are patterned after broadcast television styles such as news documentaries, video magazines, MTV, docudramas, commercials, and infomercials.
The major style malady I encounter is print-oriented writing.
Print describes; video shows.
Give it Punch.
Complex sentences full of commas and clauses have no place in a
script. Short declarative sentences, phrases, and even one-word
statements give punch to the narration. Read your copy aloud when
To read some punchy copy about bricks check out the video script
for Regal Bricks.
Gasp! Video Brochures.
Corporate writers accustomed to churning out newsletters and
brochures often approach the video script the same way -- as
words illustrated by pictures. Hence, we've been given the
oxymoron, the video brochure.
A Multi-Dimensional Palette.
Unlike the two-dimensional print world, the video writer has a
dynamic, multi-dimensional palette -- action, camera movement,
point of view, sound effects, music, character, dialogue,
narration, and even...silence.
The script format must accomplish two goals: It must facilitate a good read and serve as a production blueprint. Unfortunately, the more production detail in a script, the more cumbersome it is to read.
Blueprints for Production.
Unlike feature screenplays which start out as spec scripts designed to
entice a reader, agent, or producer, corporate scripts are
essentially shooting scripts -- blueprints for production.
Like a Paper-Edit.
The two-column format functions like a paper-edit -- the
shot-by-shot relationship of audio to video functions like
two running time lines. Theoretically, the producer can take the
script into the edit suite and cut to match.
How Much Visual Detail?
For a writer, the big question becomes, how much detail belongs in the
video column? Many producers are really looking for a
narration script. They prefer only vague visual
suggestions from the writer because the visualization of the
video is the producer's province.
Other producers want a ready-to-go script with every single shot
detailed and numbered.
From my experience, the words can't be separated from the visuals. The complete presentation, audio and video, must be represented on the page, otherwise the crew will overshoot and later be forced to organize all that extraneous footage in the edit suite.
One caveat, though. The visual side of scriptwriting demands
experience, preferably video production and editing experience.
One stroke of the pen can add a whole day for an expensive
When it comes to production, those nifty ideas that look good on paper always turn out to be harder to pull off then anyone anticipates. My production advice is to keep it simple then work hard on the set to make simple look polished.
With a screenplay, it is customary for script readers to judge the first 10 pages. If those first 10 pages aren't absolutely gripping, the reader's report comes back with a PASS.
I hope I have transformed you into a believer. A believer in knowing your audience, finding a strong concept and opening to hook the viewer, and using structure and content rather than style to make your point.