How to write a video script: a step-by-step guide


In business, a tool like video is used to inform audiences and promote products. The use of viral and image advertising in this format is very common, expert opinions or reviews are rarely used. However, regardless of which of these types we take, the script always follows a single plan. And in this article I will outline it clearly.

Step 1. Set a goal and task

Video clips in advertising are often used for two purposes – to improve reputation and image or to present a product, brand, or company. It is important to formulate a goal at the initial stage in order to stick to it.

From the goal, we set tasks. What opportunities should the client learn about? What qualities should he remember? What should the brand be associated with? Here you, being a customer or working with one, formulate all requirements, including timing and submission form. Try to take into account all the little things, then the result will be exactly as you expected to see it.

The duration of product advertising is usually from 15 to 30 seconds. Image and social last longer – from 1.5-2 minutes or more.

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Step 2. Determine the target audience and its requests

Here you try to understand who your buyer is, form his portrait. The interests, requests and problems of this particular group will be your top priority when drafting the script.

Step 3. Formulate a common idea

An idea is a small proposal, an idea that should remain with the audience after watching the finished video. Try to formulate it clearly, reflecting the key qualities of your offer. For example, “delivery in 15 minutes”, “a smartphone with a cool camera” or “a computer that will play a cool game”. Very simply, clearly, without overloads – you don’t need to try to convey all the positive qualities of the product or brand through it at once.

Step 4. Think over images

Depending on the selected format, the video can be with or without the main character. The protagonist can be a “representative” of the target audience, that is, the end consumer, or the face of the company. Plus, using people is all about trust. Therefore, it is important to correctly formulate the correct portrait of the consumer. A person will associate himself with it and will definitely remember the offer. And only later, when a certain trigger appears in his life, he will immediately remember the company and its advertised products.

A video is rarely shot or edited without the participation of the main characters. At such moments, the emphasis is placed on the images that most vividly reflect the previously formulated idea. A vivid example of their use is the old advertisement of Gazprom “Power of Siberia”. It seems that they are advertising a gas pipeline, and the images convey basic human values.

Step 5. Search for references

So you will be able to form a picture of the video based on the style, visualize your own ideas. What colors, details, images should be used. Some are inspired by popular commercials of other brands and other works that draw imagination from there. This is a good option, because you will understand exactly how you can stand out from the crowd, how to highlight a problem and formulate its solution so that there is maximum response among the audience. Maybe even highlight some tricks and after effects.

Step 6. Find the problem or conflict

The main story driver in many commercials that sell is an issue or conflict. What tickles the nerves of a representative of the target audience and what the product or service of the brand will help to solve.

Here I will mention Maslow’s pyramid with its needs, it was already talked about in the Community. So, your goal is to touch basic needs with advertising. Let’s take the same delivery service as an example. A person is hungry, he is too lazy to cook or go somewhere, and he decides to order food using the service. Your task is to show that the food will appear on his table so quickly that hot food will not cool down and cold food will not warm up.

In addition, I will give an example of Yandex.Market video advertising. It is immediately clear that a specific everyday problem is being conveyed, because it can be formulated after watching a series of videos “You always forget about what you need to buy”. She is even voiced in each of them. If you can find roughly the same obvious problem and show it clearly, your ad will definitely be remembered.

Although there is not always an obvious problem. Sometimes a video, especially an image video, demonstrates certain facts or values โ€‹โ€‹of the organization, as in the case of Gazprom. I will give another example, this time a Timeweb video. And here there is no need for conflict, the main thing is to show how the company’s work manifests its key values.

Step 7. Select the audio accompaniment

This stage is often forgotten, then at the end of the finished video they try to put different versions of music. The result is different – the prank is ruined, the audio is not applied as it should be, the deadline is missed. Perhaps everything is not so deplorable, but the sediment will definitely remain.

It is better if you choose in advance, agree on one or more compositions that will act as background or main audio. All the material will already be adjusted to the selected music during editing. If possible, buy or order it. And if you take from free access, don’t forget about copyright!

It is good to do this precisely at this stage, because the idea is formulated, therefore, there is also an exemplary vision, an understanding of the general sound. The same melody can then be used as inspiration when writing a full version of the script.

An example of an image clip from Timeweb Cloud with perfect synchronization of audio and video:

Step 8. Formulate the structure

At this stage, you don’t need to be smart and wrap the plot in some slums, it’s better to use the standard three-act plot structure. Not only advertising scripts are built on it, but also narrative lines in literature and cinema. This structure consists of the following elements:

  1. Tie. Here the viewer sees the main character and his confrontation with the main problem that needs to be solved. That is, an event that reflects the conflict is demonstrated.
  2. Confrontation. The action develops, details or methods are shown that do not help in any way.
  3. Junction. Here is the climax, the character finds the product, uses it, the problem is solved.

I will also give an example – a creepy advertisement for Brooks sneakers, which was included in one of the shortlists of the Cannes Lions in 2016. By the way, this video was developed by the Leo Barnett agency in Chicago. In it:

  • Tie – these are people hiding, a specific person running away from zombies and trying to hide.
  • Confrontation – He was almost caught, but the zombies got distracted for some reason.
  • Junction โ€“ zombies see Brooks sneakers, put them on and run, ignoring people.

The main idea – the sneakers are so beautiful that zombies felt “alive” in them.

Step 9. Make a short version

Now, using the structure, the main idea with the problem, the references and probably the audio, try to describe the plot of the video. The main thing is no dialogues and unnecessary details. There should be a description of a clear sequence of actions, personnel changes. This stage can be skipped altogether if you have a short time frame. But still, it is desirable to resort to it – with the help of such an action, you can see all the jambs, and then immediately correct them. And then just add dialogues and detail some points.

Step 10. Write a complete draft

Now, taking a short version or structure, try to fully describe all actions, dialogues and details in a convenient form. Don’t try to edit in advance, just write as you understand. Paint directly on the frames, without missing anything.

If you plan to shoot a video yourself or with the participation of a professional, do not specify technical parameters such as how large the shot will be and how the camera should move. All this is already discussed directly on the site, and your task is to describe the logic of the development of events.

Step 11. Edit the material and issue it

Now remove from the text water, unnecessary phrases, as well as what can be demonstrated visually instead of words. If there are any features of the product or service, show them in the image as well. How to do it? Get inspired by Apple’s promotional video ๐Ÿ™‚

Step 12. Calculate the timing

You can do this with the help of a special Chronometer service – you insert the text, and it displays the approximate duration when it is voiced, and in fast and slow tempo. But this is an ambiguous solution, especially when you have a lot of text with descriptions and dialogue at a minimum.

Another good option is to take a stopwatch, read the script aloud, saying all the lines at the right pace and imagining the actions in detail. That is, you put yourself in the place of the main character, imagine the situation and track how long it lasts over time. This method is more efficient – it is used by many scriptwriters of advertising videos.

Step 13. Edit again if necessary

Didn’t meet the deadline? Cut back and check the timing again. And so on until, according to your idea, you come close to the planned values. Then, if you work with the customer, he can also make his adjustments.

Read also

What is content syndication and who can benefit from it

What is demarketing: types, strategies, tools

Step 14. Have you forgotten about the action?

I’m not talking about what happens in the video, but what a person should do after watching it. Are you promoting a product or service? After viewing, a person should at least be interested, at most – buy or use. Developing an image? So, either many people should learn about the company, improve their opinion, or start communicating through various channels – social networks, website, phone, and so on. The viewer must catch and remember the same idea that you laid at the beginning.

Step 15. Make a storyboard

You can make a storyboard for the finished script. These are approximate sketches with a description of the actions taking place in the frame. A good tool that replaces the timing check in the above way. With its help, you mark the clear duration of each frame, the presence or absence of details, specify some visual elements and transitions.

There are many storyboard options. The first – draws each frame and do not forget to specify its duration in seconds. The second – you draw a frame, and next to it add a description and lines.

Let’s summarize

Try to tell less and show more in the video. You’ve already got yourself the best visual tool, so make the most of it!

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