If you've got video in your marketing plan, there's something else you need to include to have a better chance for success: a video script. It may seem obvious, but so many people try to do it other ways, and that's a big mistake.
Producing a video without a script is like baking without a recipe. It might taste just fine, but there are no guarantees. In fact, I consider scripts essential to the production process even though StoryTeller specializes in something that most people call "unscripted" videos. Why? Because a video script isn't just about nailing your key messages. It's also the template for your video production, the building blocks for the project, and a crucial piece of communication from the producer to the editor. So, if you don't have one of your own, we're sharing some examples of video scripting and a copy of our video script template that you can download below.
What is a Video Script?
A video script is an overview document that summarizes all of the relevant information needed for a video shoot or production. While the document may vary slightly depending on the specifics of the project, a video script will often include information such as locations, camera shots, action, dialogue, music, and graphics.
Whether you write the words for an announcer, gather remarks in sound bites, prepare a script for actors, match graphics with music or natural sound, or combine a few of those techniques, the script is the roadmap for your video production.
How to Create a Video Script
Videos are a unique combination of audio, video and graphics, and a video script template should include, at minimum, all three elements: audio, video and graphics.
Much like the script for a play, with the dialogue and stage directions laid out side-by-side, video scripts are laid out in three columns, showing the video, audio, and corresponding graphics. Of course, you may have another preferred approach to scripting, the important part is that you have a tool that can be used in a similar manner.
For example, this short script for a StoryTeller video blog shows everything that will happen in the video from the opening animation to the final graphic.
Every word and every shot is carefully lined up so the editor can turn the words on the script, whether written or spoken, into the video you see below:
Why Do I Need a Video Script?
If you use a video script template correctly, you will see value during every phase of production. Because it helps you visualize the finished product, it will help you see any issues or concerns long before they are ever edited, and in many cases, even shot.
- Planning — Because of its name, the script is obviously the source of words for any reporters, announcers, or actors in your video. But it's also the roadmap that you'll use to lay out those words with the visuals and plan your production, fleshing out the vision so you can make changes to your drafts long before you ever shoot or edit them.
- Efficiency — If everybody understands how to read and visualize a script while it's in progress, it becomes an effective way to share the vision, gather critiques, and discuss corrections. Even in our "unscripted" videos, a draft script is an efficient way to share and discuss the messaging and structure, and plans for execution.
- Estimating — It even serves as a benchmark to help you estimate the timing of your video. Most scripts in this template result in about 30 seconds per page, although different templates and different ways of using them will vary.
- Execution — Once the scripting is complete, it becomes the roadmap for execution — a common touchpoint for communicating the vision to on camera and voice talent, videographers or editors. It lays out how every word, every shot, and everything else in your video should come together.
Pro Tip: Although the script is a valuable tool to bring together all three columns in your production — video, audio, and graphics — it can also be a tool to analyze how well each of those will work on their own. Read down the "audio" column to see whether your messaging works for somebody who's not paying attention to the video, the "video" column for somebody who doesn't hear the audio on social media
Bonus: How Do We Use Scripts for "Unscripted Videos"?
In the beginning of this article, I mentioned that at StoryTeller we specialize in "unscripted videos." By their name alone, one would assume we can't use scripts - so how do scripts apply?
Unscripted videos aren't planned word-for-word. The producer begins with an understanding of the key messages that need to be communicated and the characters who best communicate that information. The producer will write a list of questions to steer the conversation to ensure the interview subject delivers the desired responses. The response is then in the words of the interview subject, not a "canned" response. Once again, the right script will help the video stay on-topic and save time for the shoot.
Using a video script template works for long videos as well as short ones, it works for documentaries and music videos, and we used a similar format for news stories when I was at WCCO-TV, our local Minneapolis news station. If you're working on a video project and don't have your own video script template, download ours. I guarantee it will help you organize the project and improve communication with all stakeholders.