SNN Newsroom


Beginning your Video Story

When you start your video project, there are several steps you must take before getting into production. They are: Developing your Story Idea, Storyboards and Script writing.

Elements of a video/television story

As you watch news and feature reports on television, you will notice that many different elements are used in the reports. They include:

  1. Stand-ups. A reporter at the scene of a news report. It could be a live report or is sometimes used at the beginning and end of a story or package.
  2. Voice overs consist of news copy read by a reporter while edited video is shown on the screen.
  3. Graphics can help make stories easier to understand. These include statistics, or a photo with a written description or statement.
  4. Natural sound is used to enhance authenticity for the pictures seen and the words heard.
  5. The term Packages relates to a complete, self-contained report. It uses a combination of graphics, voice-overs, an standups.


Developing your story idea.
What kind of stories make good video?
 1. School activities such as Aids Awareness Days, Sports, Drama, etc.
 2. Profile of your school or unique/special school program.
 3. A Tour of your town or tourist attraction.
 4. Career Profile -interview a doctor, teacher or journalist.
 5. A Day in the Life. It's another way of doing a Career Profile. Following a person through a typical day.
 6. A dramatic piece. As an individual or group program, you could develop a story focussed on a key teen issue: career options, leaving home, drinking, smoking, dating, teen images.....etc.

Once you have your topic, brainstorm about it. Who to talk with? What visuals to use? Interview ideas? Where to find information?

Once you have your idea, you need to develop an outline of your story. It can be as simple as stating the shots you want, the intro and closing. Or for a feature story on your community it can outline each visual image, a voice over to each scene, etc.

A storyboard is a visual script for your story. It is a guide, a plan and a blueprint from which you will direct you story. It is taking your ideas and translating them into visual images. You do it by providing both a visual description and a written description.

You save countless hours of uneccesary shooting and editing by doing a storyboard. If you plan it all out in advance you don't have to worry about wasting time shooting footage you will never use.

There are four things that a storyboard does for you. First, it is a way to work out and discuss your ideas. Second, is a visualization of how your story will look. Third, it is a description of how the story is sequenced and put together, and fourth, it is a step by step guide to making and shooting your story.

To create a storyboard, you should follow three basic steps.

  1. Analyze (break down) your story into its component parts.
  2. Evaluate and choose what shots you need for your story.
  3. Synthesis - the process of developing and putting your project together.

Developing a storyboard

  1. Put your shots and scenes of your storyboard in an order that tells your story clearly.
  2. Plan your story so that the visual images and the script can be clearly understood by reading your storyboard.
  3. Plan your film in the most interesting and appealing way possible for the audience.
  4. Plan not only what happens in each shot, but also how fast or how slow you want it to happen.
  5. Eliminate unnecessary or repetitive shots and add missing shots. Cut long boring shots and break them down into shorter more interesting shots.
  6. Make sure there is a smooth, clear, logical flow from shot to shot and scene to scene.

Another thing you may want to do, especially in a feature video, is indicate underneath your pictures the kind of camera movement that you want such as pan, zooming in and zooming out and whether the movement is actual or apparent.

Script writing for television/video

When you watch the news on television, you will see different styles of news reports. One style focuses mainly on interviews and discussions. They are generally called semi-scripted stories. They resemble a basic outline, indicating where the interview is to be placed, an introduction (which could be a standup by the reporter or graphic) and a closing (either by the reporter, a voice over or again a graphic).

The second style is called fully-scripted stories. These stories list the complete audio and video for every minute of the story. This would include a dramatic story, a documentary or feature story. In a fully scripted show the overall content, balance, pace and timing can all be figured out before the production starts.

Keep in mind that writing for the electronic media is not the same as writing for print. Those who write for print enjoy some advantages that their counterparts in radio and TV don't have. For example, a reader can go back and reread a sentence. If a sentence is not understood in a TV production, the meaning is lost—or worse, the listener is distracted for some time trying to figure out what was said.

Here are some tips for writing a television/video script:

 1. Assume a conversational tone by using short sentences and an informal, approachable style. The active voice is preferred over the inactive voice, nouns and verbs are preferred over adjectives, and specific words are preferred over general words.
 2. Engage your audience emotionally, make them care about both the people and content of your production.
 3. Provide adequate logical structure. Let viewers know where you are going, which points are key concepts, and when you are going to change the subject.
 4. Flow of story: You need to give the viewer a chance to process each idea before moving on to the next. If you move too rapidly, you'll lose your audience; too slowly, and you'll bore them.The best approach in presenting crucial information is to first signal the viewer that something important is coming up. Next, present the information as simply and clearly as possible. Then reinforce the point through repetition, or with an illustration or two.
 5. If a script is packed with too many facts, or the information is not clearly presented, the viewer will become confused, lost, and frustrated.
 6. Give your audience a chance to digest one concept before moving on to another.
 7. Keep in mind that the average viewer has internal and external distractions, preconceptions, etc., which get in the way of the communication process.

Correlating video and audio

Ensuring your video and audio match is a crucial ingredient in video reporting. One way to do this not to just describe the pictures, but ensure your words aren't so far removed from what is being seen that you split viewer attention.

Even though you will want audio and video to relate, watch out for audio that states the obvious.



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