Jun 082010
 

Today’s post is not about how to make a great video. It’s about how to make a quickie video better–in this case, one I put together in just two hours. But I think the tips I’ll offer will apply to many of your creations.

With Dupuytren's contracture, the pinkie is bent and can't straighten.Last March, I glanced at a headline in The New York Times–Bringing Movement Back to Clenched Hands–and realized it was about people like me. Dupuytren’s contracture had caused my pinkie to bend–I couldn’t straighten it out. The article touted a drug treatment, but I felt it gave short shrift to a very effective treatment I’d had.

Since you can see the effects of Dupuytren’s, I thought making a video would be a perfect way to comment on what was missing from the article. But it was a Tuesday morning and I didn’t want to cut into my work week by spending a lot of time  making a masterpiece. The situation called for a quickie video.

What’s the first thing you would have done under the circumstances? What tool would you have reached for? Your camera? A microphone to record your evanescent thoughts?

I did what this video cowboy usually does: I pulled my trusty script template out of its holster … duplicated it … and began writing. (And pardner, if you stick around and read on, I’ll upload a template just for you.)

Five or ten minutes later, I had a finished script. Was it as good as Casablanca? Here’s the opening narration from that classic:

Opening narration from the film "Casablanca"

And here’s the opening narration from my blockbuster:

Opening narration for the Dupuytren's contracture video

OK, so Casablanca wins. The point is not how great my prose was. It was serviceable, which was the mandate. So why do I call the script a “power tool”? Because as I was writing, it gave me the power to see my story in advance of shooting. The script told me what steps I would need to take before uploading the finished piece. After writing the narration and checking that it said what I wanted to say, I quickly filled in the video column. I didn’t need to fill in the scene number column for such a simple project.

The rest of the process was simply following the instructions the script dictated. If you want to see the completed script in all its glory, click here.

This blog is not about the technical side of video-making, so all I’ll say on that account is that I recorded a few standard-def shots with my Canon HV30 and edited in Final Cut Express. I imported some still pictures and a couple of screen shots of the newspaper article into FCE, then added slow moves (mistakenly called the “Ken Burns effect”).

Here’s the finished product–all one minute and twenty-one seconds of it:

It took about two hours to make, start to finish. It hasn’t been viewed as many times as Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” but as of this writing it’s had more than 800 views. And maybe it’s helped some people get better treatment for their Dupuytren’s contracture. That’s all I wanted to accomplish with this video, and starting with a script helped me do it easily.

If you’d like to download my tried-and-true script template to use on your own videos, right-click here. One of the options that pop up should allow you to download the file.

As usual, your comments are a power tool for this blog!

I'm an award-winning writer and producer, and an occasional blogger at "Seeing Your Story" (www.seeingyourstory.com). Until recently, much of my work had been hour-long programs for cable TV networks, including Discovery, TLC, The History Channel, A&E, Discovery Health and National Geographic Channel. My experience ranges from commercial TV to public TV to corporate video to experimental film. These days, I'm doing more writing than producing--scripts, of course, but also writing for marketing materials and other assignments not destined for big or little screens. Documentary and documentary-style production are at the center of my work and expertise. But my range of approaches, subjects and skills goes well beyond documentaries.

  5 Responses to “Scripts are power tools for making online videos!”

  1. Glad you love the template, Nora! Since I’ve written so many scripts, I have several templates for different purposes. Most of the time when I have a new project I just take one of the templates and use it or adapt it slightly. Much easier than starting from scratch, and for this kind of scripting you don’t need Final Draft or Celtx. Microsoft Word, bloated as it is, works well, and everybody can read the documents.

  2. Love this template. It’s easy and clean.

  3. Once again, I think you get to the heart of how to write a solid script. Easy. Smart to include the template. I think you and I need to talk about the right way to integrate this into my BU lesson plan.

  4. Thanks for your comment, Jaime. For me, writing ideas down in script format just makes the rest of the video-making process easier. If you don’t have a script template handy, any piece of paper will do. I always have little index cards in my pocket, so fleeting ideas won’t get away.

  5. Great article! It beats taking random video and then forcing to piece together a story.

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