A/V Two Column Script and Shot List

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Revision as of 20:12, 25 January 2022 by Cramtond (Talk | contribs) (Added more content)

Before you write the first line of your script, or draw your first storyboard, or format your first memory card, you should have your production planned out in the greatest detail that you can manage. Many things will change once you start your process: the more you have planned, the more you can be flexible with confidence. I'll say it again: the more details you have planned out, the easier it is to throw any of them away when necessary. Even a seemingly simple piece can go completely sideways if it's under-planned.

There are many different planning tools available to the media producer. In time you will no doubt find or create one that is best suited to your style. For the purposes of this wiki article, I'm going to point you to this one:

The two column, or A/V script format is designed for non-narrative productions. Instructional, corporate, documentary, etc. It lists what the viewer will see and hear in parallel columns, in a linear style that is easy to read and understand. Unlike the Hollywood narrative script format, this format is designed to be a working document that all crew can reference on set.

While the two column script format is meant to be directly useable as an on-set reference document, many producers may find it useful to create a shot list document separate from the script. This is particularly true if the audio and video portions are not tightly bound together, as in the case of primarily voice over or narrated videos. A shotlist is simply a numbered list of the shots necessary to tell the story, whether that's narrative, documentary, or instructional. A script may use broad descriptions to allow the reader to use their imagination to set the scene. A shot list should do no such thing. A shotlist should be as detailed and specific as possible. Including as much detail as possible will speed operations on set and reduce the potential for errors or omissions that might necessitate re-shoots or other costly and time-consuming correction.

The shotlist also allows for more efficient shooting out of script order. The script presents images in the order that makes sense for story arc or ease of learning. That order is very rarely the most efficient shooting order. Let's say you're making an instructional video about a camera lens. You might open with a shot of a person describing the video that is about to be viewed. Then you cut to close ups of the lens, then back to the person, then to someone in the field using the lens, then back to close ups, then back to the talking head to finish. If you shot that in script order, you'd be wasting all your time moving back and forth between locations and setups, re-setting someplace you'd already been! Better to put all of the shots in one location together. So you'd shoot your talking head opening, middle, and end pieces all at the same time so you only have to set it up once. Ditto the close ups of the lens, and then your exterior use shots. Script order <> shooting order.