To script or not to script!
July 26th 2016
One of the most common questions we get asked during the early stages of a video production is whether or not to write a script. So, in this blog I thought I would take you through a few of my thoughts on the subject.
Scripting and preparation
Scripts can be a great asset as well as a poisoned chalice because they require great skill in presentation them. A lot of our videos are conversational led pieces because the majority of people we interview aren’t actors or professional presenters. If someone isn’t used to memorising and presenting a script they soon become very wooden and their whole personality gets consumed by them trying to remember the next line. It can be a real pity because the video is likely to be used for a good year or so and if the video is selling the persons business then the first impression is so very important. Usually the best option to take is to write out some very specific questions and let the interviewee have a read through them before filming to ensure that nothing will surprise them. We will then go through the questions a few times to make sure that every answer actually answers the question and that any ‘waffle’ is reduced. The majority of people know their jobs very well and once they feel settled and relaxed and start what is effectively a conversation with the interviewer they can give answers with some great content.
Once the filming has wrapped and the editing is underway we have many tools at our disposal to help piece together all the different takes to produce a clean and confident sounding video that broadcasts your business in a positive and natural way. This can be a slightly more time consuming way of producing a video but the final result will be so much better and natural compared to someone stumbling their way through a script.
So, when is a script a good idea
Scripts are great when we are working with actors and presenters and can be good if the person has media training or does a lot of public speaking and is used to talking on camera. It takes great skill to learn and deliver a script in a natural and believable way which is why good actors and presenters are worth their weight in gold. One of the main things that increases the budget during a video production is the precision of the content because it takes more time to film and requires specialist tools and personnel to be able to pull it off.
Down the lens?
Scripts can be delivered in two ways and the final look of the video will dictate which option we use. If the video is presenter led the presenter will most likely be talking to camera. If this is the case then an auto-cue can be used to speed up production and ensure continuity in the scripts content. You need to be very skilled in using an auto-cue because you are reading the script and at the same time you need to inject it with personality and a natural tone and rhythm. You can tell if someone isn’t used to using an auto-cue because their eyes will be darting left and right whereas a professional presenter with lots of auto-cue experience will use more of their of peripheral vision to reduce the repetitive eye movement, which is of course very unnatural. If your video requires an acted sequence or an ‘off-camera’ interview then the script will need to be memorised and we will most likely go over it again and again until we are happy with its delivery and the performance.
Script for a voice over
One other area that a script is very important and a professional presenter is even more important is when a voice-over is required. Whether it’s for an animation or a video without interviews this is a highly skilled craft because again the presenter needs to read the script and fill their delivery with character and a natural tone and rhythm.
I hope this has been helpful and the last point I would like to make is that one way is not better than the other. It is a case of directing the production to best utilise who and what is available and most importantly to ensure that there is plenty of time to get everything done so that the interviewees, presenters or actors don’t feel rushed or pressured.