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2.3 Scripting

Without a basic script, key wording about a product or procedure can be left out or, worse, presented in the wrong way! In this lesson you will learn the basics of putting together a simple script.

2.3 Scripting

Without a basic script, key wording about a product or procedure can get left out, or worse, presented in the wrong way. In this lesson, you will learn the basics of putting together a simple script. In my experience, scripting has been an essential part of the planning process. It's possible to film a successful instructional video without one, but your chances of success are much lower. The only way I could see that being a sure thing is if you were working with a seasoned veteran who's given hundreds of presentations on the same content, and this would be rare. So, you need to get a basic script together for your instructional videos. Scripting gets all the content on the page, good and bad. Once it's on the page, it can be examined, refined, massaged and tweaked. This process sorts out a lot of potential problems well in advance of pressing the Record button on your camera. The time it takes to script something out is not lost or wasted. The time that you put in is actually saving time on the back end of your project. I know this from personal experience. If I script something out like I did for most of this course, I can read it down and get it right in one or two takes. If I don't, and I try and wing it, I end up rambling for an hour, going on many tangents that seemed really relevant at the time, and sometimes I say things that don't make any sense. In the heat of the moment, your brain tells you that you are doing a really great job. But when you get to the edit, you find out that you said something like shutter speed when you meant to say ISO. Now you have to try and be clever with a cutaway and record a voice-over to make sure everything flows back together to fix your mistake. It sounds simple enough, but all of that work takes a lot more time than writing a simple script. If you are working for a client, scripting also helps you make sure you are presenting the information exactly how the client, or the client's marketing department, needs that information presented. A lot of times, companies will need certain language or words used to describe a product or a process. It's important to get those details ironed out with your client and make sure all the details of what is going to be said are on the page. Scripting also gives you a valuable tool to visualize what you need to shoot in order to illustrate the messaging. If it says in the script, stir vigorously until light and fluffy, you know you need to get a shot of that sweet stirring action. Without a script, your talent says, stir vigorously until light and fluffy, and then you missed the shot because you were a step behind and you couldn't lock focus in time. This could have been avoided with some simple scripting and planning. Now, scripting does not have to be complicated. You don't necessarily need blocking, camera direction, notes about CGI or graphics, or anything fancy in your script. You could start by simply writing down exactly what you are going to say. From here, you can make edits. Maybe you don't need that personal story about your friend from high school, or maybe you can trim it down to the most relevant details. A lot can be done to make it better, but only if you write it down. So script, you must. For this project I'm going to set up a computer monitor so that Cheryl can see some of her notes. She mentioned before that she is more comfortable working off the cuff. But by having a computer monitor right under the lens, it's going to be very easy for her to read from the script and stay on track. I do have a piece of glass that goes with my teleprompter setup, but I don't like to shoot through an extra piece of glass if I don't have to. I found that if the talent is around six to eight feet in front of the camera, you can't actually tell that they are reading from a screen that's sitting just below the lens. To the camera, it looks like the eyes are looking right in the lens. It helps to have the text scrolling so that the lines can be read right at the top of the screen. You can find fairly inexpensive teleprompter setups for iOS and Android devices. Or, if you have an extra LCD monitor laying around, they're pretty easy to make. I use a website called easyprompter.com and an old computer to drive the LCD screen. EasyPrompter has just enough features to get the job done. And you can download a portable version as an HTML file and run it when you're not connected to the Interwebs. In the next lesson, you are going to learn what details you need to consider when booking your talent and crew.

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