Video scripting

Every advisor, consultant, and instructional designer touts the use of video for producing engaging elearning. Mind  blowing quotes are trotted out about how most of earth’s internet content will be video by the year umpteen and how we are all visual learners and like short videos.

You Tube likes hearing this sort of talk.

So, let’s assume all this hype has a kernel of truth. And it does, of course.  Sending your friends hilarious or amazing video links of base jumping off the white cliffs of Dover with scuba gear is a favourite time killing pastime on the web.  And well produced videos can be very helpful in communicating training.

Now, to the serious bit. How do we turn you into a Cecille B. DeMille, Kathryn Bigelow, Martin Scorcese or Julie Taymor of elearning?

First step: Write a script.  Yes, a script.  Not some notes on a bar napkin, although an idea can start there.

Three ways you can do this: Hire a video production company, a script writer, or do it yourself.

Never written a script before?   Did you ever put on an impromptu performance for your parents in the lounge room where you are a kid?  Or have you ever played a game of charades at a party?  Do you ever sing in the shower?   Or write in a diary? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are a natural born script writer.

Now, how do you write a script? Let’s say you are writing a training video on how to give CPR to orangutans.  Admittedly a rather esoteric topic, but it will illustrate our point.

Take a look at this easy script writing template.

Narration/Audio Vision/Video

Now is that so difficult to understand?

Pictures and words: the basis of any video or movie production.  The format for full length feature film scripts is different but you aren’t making one….yet.

So let’s fill in some of the blanks so you get the idea of how this works.

Narration/Audio Vision/Video
Orangutans are closely related to people. They are caring parents. Still shot orangutan with babies.
But they are also very strong, and can easily hurt you. Orangutan jumping through trees (clip from Orangutan Rescue Project: need to credit)
So it is important that you sedate them. Orangutan with mask over its mouth (still shot)
Unfortunately, some orangutans can suffer from heart problems, especially those babies orphaned by poachers. Baby organutan in nursery (clip from Orangutan Rescue Project: need to credit)

This is a good start because you have a general idea of how this works. Before you even start the scripting process, meet with your managers or subject matter experts to discuss what key elements have to be communicated in the video.

Let’s use our orangutan example. You meet with the veterinary surgeons who perform CPR.  And they tell you the critical steps in the procedure.  You write down the steps, and then film them in situ while someone else takes still photos.  Between the two you have your vision covered.

Now all you need is a halfway decent narrator.  Professional voice talent can be expensive, so try to find someone with a good voice, let them rehearse and record their track before you edit your piece.

Lots of software out there to do both.

And remember the next cardinal rule of video production:  rehearse, rehearse, rehearse by reading the script out loud.  If it comes across stilted, it probably is and needs re-writing.

We aren’t going to tackle copyright issues now. But it pays to make sure you aren’t just pirating videos off the web and re-using them unless you are expressly allowed to do so.

So now you know. Cat’s out of the bag.

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