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Snow Day 2003. Video Script Formats. Numerous script formats exist - depends on purpose. Most follow certain guidelines but vary depending upon the organization. 2-column and narrative and are the main types we will study. News Package Script . 2 columns

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Snow Day 2003

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Snow day 2003

Snow Day 2003

Video script formats

Video Script Formats

  • Numerous script formats exist - depends on purpose.

  • Most follow certain guidelines but vary depending upon the organization.

  • 2-column and narrative and are the main types we will study.

News package script

News Package Script

  • 2 columns

  • LEFT for video directions, RIGHT for audio.

  • Written after tape is shot, but before editing.

  • A detailed organization of visual and aural material to be included in a "stand alone" package.

  • That is, it should be able to be played from beginning to end as a complete story. 

News package script1

News Package Script

  • Goal: organize visual/aural material before editing the piece together.

  • Inserted into a newscast on a VTR.

  • All transitions cuts, unless otherwise indicated

  • Most “packs” are under 2:00

  • Be sure to gather enough b-roll

News package script2

News Package Script

  • Writing style

  • Clear, concise, to the point,

  • ACTIVE - limit use of verb “to be”

  • Conversational - must ‘sound good’

  • Reporter must “pre-digest” data, facts, statistics and make them relevant to the viewer

  • Visuals (video, graphics, maps, titles) are essential

News package script3

News Package Script

  • Writing style

  • Timely, present: endeavor to find current angle in story

  • In practice, new style of ‘timeless’ writing emerging (“…ing”)

  • “Weapons inspectors finding little evidence of nuclear or biological weapons in Iraq.”

News package script4

News Package Script

  • In practice, news story scripts are rarely fully typed-out.

  • Edit Process:

    • audio (reporter VO, sound bites, nat sound, interviews, stand-ups) is laid down first

    • along with anchor stand-ups

    • video laid over the audio

Psa script

PSA Script

  • Two-column is used most, though sometimes a narrative style is appropriate

  • Like news: must be conversational and appropriate to topic

  • Additionally: must match target audience, message, goals of message

  • A main goal: break through the clutter and resonate w/audience

  • What appeal will work best?

  • Reach and frequency

Persuasive advertising appeals

Persuasive/Advertising Appeals

  • Genre of message appeal

  • Means of gaining attention, breaking through the clutter

  • Depends on goals, product, target audience

    • Demographics & psychographics

  • Keep persuasive goals in mind

  • Some ads very creative but ineffective

Persuasive appeals

Persuasive Appeals

  • Straight Announcement

    • VO by announcer or DJ

  • Price, value

    • Very typical selling point for local ads

  • Informational/rational

    • Facts about the product

    • List of benefits

    • Even gets out blood stains

    • Computer ads

Persuasive appeals1

Persuasive Appeals

  • Demonstration

    • Show audience how product works

    • Infomercials

    • Fitness gear

  • Testimonial

    • Client speaks of product benefits

    • Jared of Subway

Persuasive appeals2

Persuasive Appeals

  • Emotion/sentimental

    • Inflated emotions related to the product

    • Hallmark

  • Fear

    • Scare audience away from the product or behavior, or toward it

    • Baldness, hair restoration

    • Just say no, drug bust, gunshot, pregnancy

Persuasive appeals3

Persuasive Appeals

  • Celebrity Endorsement

    • Tie product image to famous person

    • MJ & Jackie Chan for Hanes

  • Urgency

    • Need to respond/act quickly

    • Sale Ends Saturday!

    • 2-days only!

    • Disney DVDs will not be available for 10 years!

Persuasive appeals4

Persuasive Appeals

  • Humor

    • Associate humor with product image

    • Often memorable, not always effective

    • Bud - Wassup?!

    • Office Linebacker

  • Slice of Life

    • Problem/solution in a story form

    • Detergent, dandruff, slice and bake cookies

Persuasive appeals5

Persuasive Appeals

  • Dramatize problem

    • Then offer solution

    • Hertz - Not exactly

    • Diarrhea

    • Employees fired for mistakes

  • Dramatize benefit

    • As the solution

    • Sprint - “Hear a pin drop”

Persuasive appeals6

Persuasive Appeals

  • Shock!

    • Jar audience

    • Anti-drug/smoking PSAs

  • Sex

    • Associate product with sexual satisfaction / conquest

    • Calvin Klein, cologne, Cosmo, Maxim

Snow day 2003

Sex Sells

Persuasive appeals7

Persuasive Appeals

  • Before / After

    • Demonstrate specific results of using product

    • Grecian formula, weight loss

  • Image

    • Associate product with some image, style, attitude… coolness

    • Product benefits, attributes are secondary to the image

    • Cadillac, Nike



  • Range from single page for a 30 second PSA hundreds of frames for a film.

  • May be on standard paper or on foam-core posterboard.

  • Useful means of envisioning the concept.

  • Range from rough sketches to polished drawings or photographs.

Client uncw student productions campaign you need us title full service sept 17 2002

Client: UNCW Student Productions Campaign: “You Need Us”Title: Full ServiceSept. 17, 2002

Theme music, UP, then UNDER. “UNCW Student TV productions”

From planning to editing …

“Narr.: Your one-stop video production source.

Because so much is riding on your video.” (A subsidiary of Gene’s Tire and Auto)

UNCW Student Productions - a full service company

…we can get your message across.

Documentary script

Documentary Script

  • Some parts developed far in advance

    Interactive process with the following steps:

    1) topic is researched

    2) outline is developed for the program along with treatment (detailed outline)

    3) draft script is written

    4) as visual and sound elements are captured and reviewed, the script is likely to be adjusted accordingly 

Documentary script1

Documentary Script

  • Style choice: 2-column or narrative style script

  • Writing style: clear, conversational, dynamic

    • Must “sound” good to the listener

    • Varies depending upon talent, goals, director’s style

Documentary script2

Documentary Script

Visual elements:

  • Interviews, stand-ups

  • Original b-roll, cover video

  • Archival, file footage

  • Still photos (capture, pan & scan)

  • Documents

  • Graphics, maps

  • *Capture enough b-roll: CU, MS, LS for @

Documentary script3

Documentary Script

Sound elements:

  • Interview audio: on-screen, under video

  • Voice-over narration

  • Talent/on-screen narration

  • Actors/talent reading historical documents

  • Archival audio recordings

  • Music

  • Nat-sound (natural)

  • Special effects

  • Blended to help tell the story

Documentary script4

Documentary Script

Director/writer chooses direction/voice of story.

  • Who tells the story?

  • Depends on story approach

  • Director must blend all elements into cohesive, interesting, motivating story

Documentary script5

Documentary Script

Story approaches:

  • Investigative

  • Scientific

  • Human interest

  • Educational

  • Recreations/dramatizations/reenactments

  • Verite’

Documentary script6

Documentary Script

  • It is important to choose the style which best matches the content.

    Ken Burns

  • historical perspective = heavy voice-over narration

  • Actors reading words of subjects adds life

  • Visual style critical - pan & scan brings stills to life

Documentary script7

Documentary Script

Michael Moore

  • Straightforward presentation of:

  • Interviews - selection of subjects critical

  • His perspective in VO and on-camera

  • Powerful imagery

  • Sometimes best to just let the camera roll and let the truth ooze out naturally

  • Edited in a way to get his point across

Documentary script8

Documentary Script

  • Requires extensive research - entire story must be written first

  • Time frame: one day, months, years.

  • Once interviews and b-roll video (cutaways) have been recorded…

  • Director must review and log all footage including each shot and the details of each interview

Documentary script9

Documentary Script

The transcript of the interviews will be used to construct the final script.

Writer/director will weave research, interviews, archival footage, graphics and b-roll video into a complete, dynamic and compelling story.

Two column script

Two-column script

  • Helpful means of organizing shots and video

  • VIDEO information goes in the left column

  • AUDIO information goes in the right column

  • Be as detailed as possible

Two column script1

Two-column script

  • Tip: Use the ‘table’ function of your word processor to create a 2-column table

  • Lines may be omitted for a cleaner look

  • Header:

    • Project title, writer, director, client if appropriate, length, date

Video audio


The audio portion of

the script goes on the

right hand side and is

double spaced.

Video  Audio

Video audio1


Any additional directions

should be listed in

parentheses before the


Also, indicate who is

speaking: narrator,

character, etc…

Video  Audio

Video audio2



(Special instructions include : UP, UNDER)



(Theme music up,

establish, then under)

Narrator: Water - the

single most important

element on earth.

Video  Audio

Video audio3


Be as detailed as possible with instructions, music and sound effects

Write out everything just as it is meant to be spoken aloud.

Keep script conversational

Video  Audio

Narrative scripting

Narrative Scripting

  • Dramatic and comedic stories

  • Variety of script styles used at different phases of production

  • Concept/story idea/premise/synopsis: thumbnail sketch

  • Quick summary of the story - a necessity for an ‘elevator pitch’

Narrative scripting scene outline

Narrative Scripting - Scene Outline

  • Scene outline:

  • List of scenes in numerical order w/ brief descriptions of each.

  • Little, if any, dialogue -- brief expansion of the original concept.

  • Explains and clarifies the progress of the film/show.

Narrative scripting treatment

Narrative Scripting - Treatment

  • Prose description of the story

  • Reads like a short story

  • Includes detailed visuals, characters, settings, actions and motivations.

  • 5-12 pages.

Narrative scripting master scene script

Narrative Scripting - Master Scene Script

  • Translation of the treatment into script form.

  • General scenes, not specific shots.

  • Includes:

  • headings for each location (INT. CLASSROOM, DAYTIME).

  • Scenes numbered.

  • Below heading, a description of the setting, characters and the action.

Narrative scripting master scene script1

Narrative Scripting - Master Scene Script

No detailed shot or camera instructions.

Dialogue is generally indented 2 tabs on each side.

Character direction: the character's name is centered above each of their lines of dialogue and are in all caps, directions may be included under their name in parentheses.

Scene 1



  • It is a cold and rainy fall day as students enter the classroom for their college class. The classroom is a typical "theater" style room with a slanted floor and rows of seats in a semi-circle facing the small "stage" area. There is a chair and podium on the stage and a blackboard on the wall. Students are filing into the room and chatting, getting ready for class. GREG is a college junior majoring in history, he sits down next to his friend MIKE. There is an assignment due today and the class looks a bit haggard.

Snow day 2003


Did you finish typing your paper last night?


You mean this morning. It was an all-nighter again. I've got to stop doing this or I'll be dead before I graduate.


No chance, man. You couldn't get a paper done in advance if your life depended on it.

Snow day 2003

GREG laughs as MIKE shakes his head.

PROFESSOR SUMNER enters the room and gets prepared to teach. The students turn to the front of the room and get their notebooks ready. There seems to be a tension in the room, PROFESSOR SUMNER seems tense as he readies his lecture notes, the class falls silent as they realize something is not right.

Narrative scripting shooting script

Narrative ScriptingShooting Script

Final stage of scriptwriting:

  • specific settings, characters, dialogue

  • AND camera angles, movement and position

  • and transitions between shots

  • Each shot within a scene is listed in order.

  • Each shot is numbered and technical details are added.

Snow day 2003




1. HIGH ANGLE of students entering a college classroom building, rushing through the rain. It is a cold and rainy fall day and students are covering their heads with books and jackets trying to stay dry. The campus is "traditional" looking with red bricks and lots of trees. CAMERA PANS SLOWLY to follow students into the building. OPENING THEME plays over the scene.

Snow day 2003


2. LOW ANGLE MS of doorway to classroom door as students enter for class.

3. MS - LOW ANGLE (below the desktops only, no faces or heads are seen) of a row of seats with students preparing, chatting. Feet shuffle as students take their seats, bags are placed on the floor and books are taken out of the bags. There is an assignment due today and the class looks a bit haggard. THEME MUSIC FADES.

Snow day 2003

4. TWO SHOT of GREG and MIKE. GREG is a junior - he looks studious but not a stereotypical nerd, he sits down next to his friend MIKE, basically a slob who has brains, but doesn't put out much effort.


Did you finish typing your paper last night?


You mean this morning. It was an all-nighter again. I've got to stop doing this or I'll be dead before I graduate.

Snow day 2003



No chance, man. You couldn't get a paper done in advance if your life depended on it.


GREG laughs as MIKE shakes his head and rolls his eyes. MIKE sees the PROFESSOR enter and shakes his head, as if to tell GREG to look at PROFESSOR SUMNER.

Snow day 2003

7. HIGH ANGLE LS - PROFESSOR SUMNER entering the room from the rear of the classroom. The classroom is a typical "theater" style room with a slanted floor and rows of seats in a semi-circle facing the small "stage" area. There is a chair and podium on the stage and a blackboard on the wall. The students turn to the front of the room and get their notebooks ready. There seems to be a tension in the room. PROFESSOR SUMNER is a traditional "liberal arts" teacher -- in his mid-fifties, thin, wearing a tweed coat, sweater and a tie.

Snow day 2003

8. CU - STEADICAM of PROFESSOR as he walks to his desk. CAMERA PANS AND FOLLOWS professor as he walks to the podium. CAMERA MOVES around the front of the professor's desk maintaining a CU, moves around the other side of the professor as the he pulls his notes from his satchel and settles on an OTS of the class.

Snow day 2003

9. TWO SHOT - GREG AND MIKE, they look at each other, shrug as if to acknowledge the tension but not understanding its origin, then forward at the professor.

10. CU - LOW ANGLE of Professor Sumner as he removes his reading glasses from his pocket, places them on his nose. He raises an envelope which has been opened into the frame and takes a letter out.

Snow day 2003

11. OTS - CLASS. Entire class is silently looking at the professor sensing that something is just not right. The letter is in the frame -- it is written on very nice letterhead stationery.

12. CU - LOW ANGLE of Professor Sumner, reading the letter.

Snow day 2003


Does anyone know what this is? (PAUSE) I received it in the mail this morning.

Narrative scripting production script

Narrative ScriptingProduction Script

Script broken into logical parts for shooting

  • Technical dissection of the script based on locations, actors, props etc…

  • Most narratives shot out of order w/shots on the same location shot at the same time

My kids why just because

My kids. Why? Just because!



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