#SciFund Challenge Class

Video storytelling made easy for scientists

Part 7: Developing Your Own Script

In this section, we’ll be talking about how you can translate the principles of script writing given above to your video. Before we get there though, let’s give some examples. Earlier, we showed a (bad) story-less video about the snowy plover that we created. Let’s see if we can do better.

Not Better

For purposes of comparison, let’s start by doing everything wrong. Here we show the “Topic” section of our story arc. Already in the story arc, we have grabbed our audience of dog walkers in Santa Barbara, California and established a common ground that walking your dog on the beach is awesome. The script here is for the topic section of the video: beach dog-walking is wreaking havoc on the snowy plover.

This first version of the script is one written for the eye, not the ear. We added a lot of jargon and wrote it in the dense style of academic papers. To add insult to injury, we also read the script badly – we were actively reading our text as we spoke. In the video below, you can hear our reading of the script, with a transcript of the words displayed. Notice that, though not written particularly well, the text makes much more sense when read than when written. Take a look:

Okay, that was painful. Let’s try again for the script for the topic section of the video. The story arc that has already been covered in this version of the video is more or less the same, except that we have introduced the fact that this bird has ninja skills in catching insects. This time around, we're speaking in a much more conversational way and the words we're speaking are simpler as well. Note that this version is much shorter than the last one. Despite that, with the use of the visual channel, we can convey just as much detail here as before. Take a look:

Converting the Story Arc Into Your Script

Last week, you completed your story arc. In the following Google Doc, you see our version of the (good) story arc for the snowy plover video. Here we are just writing down the topline bullet point for each section.

Script: Step 1

Next, let’s write the script for each section, which you can see in the Google Doc below. Remember to use the guidelines given above! Below, you can see our fleshing out of the video plan to include our script for each section. Note, below each script section, we also include the potential emotions that we would hope to evoke in our audience. It is really important to do this, for multiple reasons.

First, video is a medium that excels at conveying emotion. The purpose of these videos for most of you is to change the behavior in some small way of the viewing audience. Why do most people change behavior? A change in knowledge is part of the answer, but a bigger part is a change in emotional state. Consequently, keeping track of the specific emotions you hope to convey through your video is a key part of creating video that succeeds.

Second, by being aware of the emotions associated with each section, it will help you to select the right video clips, audio cues, and ambient sound to use. As mentioned earlier, don’t worry if you don’t have everything in hand right now. Later in this guide, we’ll be discussing how you can find a giant range of audio, images, and video clips that you are legally allowed to use.

Script: Step 2