If you're starting the new year with 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 driving without a map or baking without a recipe. You might get there, it might taste just fine, but there are no guarantees. In fact, I consider scripts essential to the production process even though my agency specializes in something that most people call "unscripted" videos. Why? Because a video script isn't just about words. It's 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, shots, action, dialogue, music, and graphics.
Whether you write the words for an announcer, gather them in sound bites, script them for actors, match graphics with music or natural sound, or combine a few of those techniques, the script is the roadmap for your production and the instructions for your editor.
Because videos are a unique combination of audio, video, and graphics, a video script template needs to include areas to describe each of those elements and how you want them to work together.
Because videos are a unique combination of audio, video and graphics, a video script template needs to include 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.
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 a powerfully effective way to share the vision, get 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 script templates I've used work out to around 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, whether that's to actors, announcers, 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
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. 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 communicate better with the editor.