Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What I've Learned from Scripting Corporate Vids


As the script writer for several 11gR2 vignettes, I have been thinking about what we have done right so far and what we can improve. Here are my top five thoughts:

1. Remember that people watch these all the way through because they care about the characters, not the information. Information delivery must be subservient to the story.

2. Don’t work too hard to build gags into the script. Concentrate on the motivations of the characters and let the gags come to us. For example, in the Active Data Guard video I worked to build the snow globe gag into the script, which in the end didn’t add that much to the story. By contrast, in the Advanced Compression video one character’s natural motivation to buy more hardware was shown brilliantly with the Disks-R-Us centerfold; we got humor and never left the main thrust of the story.

3. Don’t let marketing considerations kill the dramatic beats of the story. These beats take the viewer step by step in the direction we need them to go, both to satisfy the needs of the story and the needs of information delivery. In a beat, one character answers the thrust of another characters comment and moves the conversation in the direction he/she wants it to go. As the conversation moves along, the viewer is drawn naturally in the intended direction. But when we get bogged down with marketing requests too late in the scripting process this natural flow gets interrupted and the story suffers.

4. Get scripts to the producer with enough time for him to live with the script for a few days. This gives him time to design shots and suggest lines to fulfill his vision for the characters. If the script is built on solid character motivations and dramatic beats the producer, and later his actors, can let it all hang out and we end up with a better, funnier video.

5. On the day of the shoot have a product expert on hand to help with pronunciation and give the green light to ad libbed lines. If the product expert is laughing with the producer and actors, they know they can go for it.

I look forward to working with everyone on the next round of vids.

40 comments:

Pete said...

Great advice, Jeff. I'm in the process of putting together a video blog and this really helps. Pete

Jeff Erickson said...

There is some good stuff in there if you're producing narrative videos. Check out this earlier post for more basic information about Web video:

http://techspectator.blogspot.com/2008/02/gorilla-video-and-you.html

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