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Script to Production, the missing link

March 7th, 2008 by Shannon Newton

Back in the caveman days when we wanted a mate, we just beat them over the head with a large club. I know because I have seen countless reenactments on television. Occasionally, there was a ‘numbskull’ who, despite being struck with repeated blows, had no idea that the mating ritual had begun.

How would we reach these numbskulls? Not by beating harder. For these folks, we needed to guide them through the process with iterative, easy-to understand steps. (“ok, walk over to this rock. Good! Now just a little bit further to that bed of mammoth fur over there”)

Caveman {I hope this level of degradation pays well}

Many times in script development, the helicopter stunt sounds like a good idea until someone takes the club and hits everyone over the head with the price tag. Unfortunately, this usually happens at the end of the script development. After weeks or months of head nodding, a flurry of expense-induced head shaking breaks out. The result: wasted time and last minute rewriting.

What would be useful is a way to wed the story development and production planning/budget together. Some iterative steps that show everyone where the production is headed opposed to a heavy club at the end.

Does Market7 have such a thing? Well, no, not yet. I know you all saw some sort of self-serving marketing pitch coming on but this is a blog. It is composed of observations gleaned from talking to hundreds of producers. Occasionally, these things just hit ME over the head.

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A Treatment by Any Other Name…

February 25th, 2008 by Shannon Newton

A treatment (sometimes called an approach, concept proposal, or conceptualization) is simply telling the story of the film/video in prose. It covers the core idea around how the video will look and sound.
Typically, the writer and/or director will create a few treatments for the client from which to decide upon. Once a treatment is chosen, the transformation of treatment to script begins.

Short and Sweet

The treatment is of limited length, not more than a paragraph. It’s much like a movie synopsis description you might read in the paper or on-line. It doesn’t contain every important detail and might even finish in an open question of how the story ends.

A change in treatment = starting from scratch

If a client changes his/her mind in the middle of a production and decides to go with a different treatment than agreed upon, it means basically starting over. Some clients don’t understand that changing the core idea affects production so profoundly. Producers, often worried about seeming inflexible, won’t explain this impact. As a result. Clients end up unhappy about late delivery or cost overruns and producers are frustrated by a stressful production.

Script FlowDiagram of treatment to script flow

The treatment is the foundation of your video. Everyone should understand that, though sometimes necessary, ripping apart the foundation affects the entire structure. In understanding this, you understand that giving extra care up front on the approach in the treatment will pay big dividends throughout production.

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We Are Ready For You To Use Our Stuff

February 12th, 2008 by Seth Kenvin

I am amazed by how fast things are happening for Market7. My prior company makes routers for cable and telecom operators which required years of engineering and qualification and mind-numbing progression through various other obstacles encountered before we had our customers using our work. This go-round, it seems our time is now.

Two video.market7.com modules are pretty much ready to be used. One focuses on preparation of materials for a video shoot, including some of the scripting concepts Shannon’s included in blog posts. The other relates to the review of footage and management of the editorial / post-production processes. It’s the source of the screen shot on our home page. We are ready for professional producers to try these modules in cooperation with actual clients to execute real-world projects.

We’re fortunate in the influence we’ve received getting where we are. This now extends through direct interaction with our own users. Will you have a project over the next couple of months which could use a better approach to working together on writing a script and planning how to shoot it? or to reaching consensus on what’s the best footage and how it should transform to final deliverable? Do you promise to talk to us about your experience during and afterwards? Please let us know – you can reach us via the contact info on the right of this page (scroll down a little), or indicate your interest in the comments & questions part at the bottom of our feedback form. We look forward to it.

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Script Formats And You

February 6th, 2008 by Shannon Newton

Which format? Once we decided to add a script editor to our services we had to determine which format it should be in. The entire purpose of the script editor was to allow collaboration between the enterprise-client and the video producer. If we chose the wrong format and one or both parties didn’t want to use it, our efforts would be wasted.

There are basically two formats video scriptwriters employ, single-column and dual-column format. The dual column format evolved from the single-column format specifically for video productions into the current audio-visual (AV) format.

The major difference is that in a single-column script, the visual elements and audio elements (such as spoken dialogue) follow one another. The dual-column script separates these so all visual elements are on one side and all audio elements on the other.

The dual column is the standard for commercial video production because of the ability to communicate the story very quickly as well as the convenience of converting the script into a storyboard-like tool for shooting. This is necessary on video productions because of both the compressed time frame of video productions as well as the need to communicate the idea very quickly to a wide variety of people.

For me, I use A/V when I am doing commercial work. It helps me get the idea across easily (even if it takes the client’s eyes a minute to adjust to the format. Once they do, I find it very useful for them). When I am writing a screenplay for a movie idea, I stay with single column as it helps my linear storytelling intuition.

Bottom line: AV format is better for collaboration, Single column is better for yourself.

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The Write Stuff

January 30th, 2008 by Shannon Newton

The script drives everything that relates to the story. With the WGA strike persisting and the corresponding lack of entertaining content (I have taken to watching reruns of Seinfeld‘…George is sadly more like me than i care to admit), it’s plain to see the importance of a good script. A solid script leads to a solid production. Most unhappy customers and frustrated producers can point to the script where the problems began. It is the roadmap behind which all wagons follow.

With something so important, why is it so hard to lock a good script?

First, we tried to identify what makes up a good script. We found that for enterprise customer video, a good script must be three things:

  • Accurate (reflects the Client’s message)
  • Clearly understandable
  • Compelling

What keeps a script from becoming good?

Accuracy suffers when there is not effective communication between the client and the producer. Many times our producers think everything is fine until the day of production when the client complains that the message is off point. This often leads to a breakneck patch job to save the day.

Clarity suffers when the script isn’t reviewed by the right people who should have a say in the story. The dreaded ‘Huh?’ from those responsible for translated the script onto screen (such as the Director or the Marketing Communication Manager) is a death sentence for the production.

Compelling Interest is lost when the script becomes too long, difficult to follow, unfocused or offensive. This happens when too much information is shoved into the script for the audience to digest. Soon, the script is bulging at the seams with extraneous information. On the other hand, a story that starts uninteresting will stay that way when too few of the people who care about it (and who would say the story is not good) don’t read the script.

As a result of what we learned, we next started building a script editor that would break down and eliminate some of these problems by helping the right people review the right story at the right time to produce the best possible script.

Check out how we are trying to solve this problem…

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