Tips for Creating a Better Script for Video/Photo-Montage

I just saw this on and thought I’d pass it along.  It’s so interesting, especially for writers:

Tips for Creating a Better Script for Video/Photo-Montage

By Holly Adams

Although I am a writer, I am also a Voice Talent for webmercials, 
e-learning, and audiobooks. This week, I have been hired for a 
real-estate agency’s web video, and find myself in a common 
situation: The person creating the script is not familiar with 
writing for this medium. Hence, I created a ‘how-to’, useful 
whether you are creating a video-trailer for your book or writing 
for a corporate website!

* TIME (step one)

Watchable time is 3 minutes, and most quick web pieces are less. 
Three two-minute pieces are better than one 6 minute piece; most 
people click away at 1.5 minutes. 200 words is around 1.5 minutes, 
so aim for 200-350 words.

With that in mind, write down EVERYTHING that you think is important. 
Read aloud at a medium pace, and time it. Your written piece is 
probably five minutes. Now prioritize what you think is important, 
and write those concepts down in bullet form. Note if you like a 
certain ‘tone’ (Cheery? Mellow? Dramatic? Authoritarian? Snarky?).

* IMAGES (step two)

Ask yourself:

==Do I have images for each of my bulleted ideas? Make a note next 
to your bullets of how many images you have for each and what they 
look like. Yes, you can write an image into more than one category-
although you will not SHOW the image twice, writing it in two places 
gives you placement options. If there are ideas WITH NO IMAGES, then 
you need to get some OR decide to use written text (like “Comes in 
red as well”) OR save that idea for a later project.

==Do I have enough images for a whole sentence? This is a biggie. 
Watchable time for each image is 2-3 seconds. Lovely long compound 
sentences do not work, nor do sentences where the main object or 
verb is at the end of the sentence — people need to hear information
that explains, modifies, colors what they are seeing.

==Which images are strong and should be first? I know it seems bass-
ackwards to think about how it looks rather than what you want to say, 
but this is a visual medium first and foremost — your message is embedded 
in the images, not the other way around.

==What if I am having a video/photo professional create my images or 
use my existing images to decide which goes where? Highly recommended. 
HOWEVER, you should still have a notion of what KIND of images best 
show your idea and what kind of image might be a most-compelling 
initial visual!

* SEQUENCE (step three)

Start and end with the strongest images. Which ideas do they match 
on your bullet sheet? You may have to do some realigning of ideas 
and images, and that is okay. The strongest image/concept-clump is now 
first. What should come next? The second section is often a lesser 
point. In general, organize your sequence with main points separated 
by smaller points (e.g. ‘main, small, main’).

* SCRIPT! (step four)

Remember—SHORT AND SWEET. How can you talk about your ideas beautifully, 
dynamically and succinctly? Remember, each ‘slide’ will only be 2 or 3 
seconds and that your total time is 1.5 to 2.5 minutes. Now touch base 
with your visual artist (if you have one). As an expert in the visuals, 
s/he will tweak your concept to give the piece have your tone and tell 
an interesting story.

* REVISIT/REVISE (final step)

Your video-photo person will send you the piece for alterations. Send 
back your thoughts with any script changes, then wait for the final 
awesome project!!


Holly Adams is the lead writer for Mystery & Adventure Agency, a 
successful children’s playwright, and has been published in the 
Teaching Artist Journal, the NYS Autism journal, Brespols’ Silk 
Roads Art & Architecture, and Kinvene Magazine. Her work on Autism 
and the Arts is posted in three countries. A performer as well, 
Holly loves narrating audiobooks and web projects.

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