The video production process follows the classic design/build motif. First we figure out what we want to convey, and then we figure out how to best convey this visual content. So, the script is critical as a map for what one wishes to accomplish with his or her film.
As one might expect, the complexity a script requires varies greatly pending the nature of the production and the budget available. If we’re putting together a local commercial or short video with a simple message, say an on camera spokesperson and little else for the visual content, your script can simply be the words to be narrated, ideally on a teleprompter so your talent can easily impart the message.
On the other hand, if you’re looking at a dramatic film, corporate identity program or a high-end music video, every shot must be mapped out and considered in relationship to all the other scenes. This requires the meticulous process of establishing the look, feel, foreground and background elements, how the talent will play the scene, lighting, special effects (SFX), audio capture, and so forth. Meticulous indeed.
But consider how much more efficient and effective it is to have a detailed script as opposed to ‘shooting on the fly’ and in the edit ramming together your ‘coolest’ shots to create your piece. Again, there are situations where this will work. A music video for a local band that is more montage than story might be just fine with that sort of a production. But there aren’t many types of productions where one can get away with that type of production methodology.
Even a short dramatic film that you’ve been dreaming of producing so long you feel you know every scene in your head will benefit from a script/storyboard. (The words script and storyboard are not quite interchangeable, as the storyboard offers visual representations of what you intend, while a script is usually considered as just words. Still, both are design tools.) It’s too easy to forget nuance, quick pickup shots or other elements that will enhance your final product.
And if you’re producing the next Star Wars film, just imagine what those script/boards must look like.
Of course just having a script is no guarantee of a successful project, but the chances go way up since we have a much better sense of what we’re about. There are plenty of terrible ideas that can find their way into scripts. Often times it’s not the scene itself, but the way it’s interpreted that can be disastrous.
Which brings me to the last point. Imagination. Even with a tidy script and meticulous storyboards, the project director has to ‘see’ (and hear) the film in their head to create the compelling stories and visuals we’re after. But talking about directors and direction is another topic!
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