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Writing Short Scripts for the Web

19 May 2016 9:08 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

By Ashley E.M. Miller

Online films. We watch them, “like” them, “share” them, “comment”, and “replay”.  While many videos tend towards entertainment, the short informational film genre is growing strong. “When you can use a mix of words and images, or voice-over and images it’s so easy to get information across, says Shelley Sandiford, founder of ‘Sciconic’ [http://sciconic.com/], an animation company based out of Ottawa, ON. “What’s on the screen can be different than what I’m actually saying and in a lot of cases that can lead to a clearer understanding,”

For those of us who write with readers in mind rather than video viewers, our work can get lengthy. 500 words, 1500 words, even 3000 words are standard length for print communications. However, transcribing that prose into a script would create a “hugely long video,” says Shelley. So, how do we condense science information into a manageable script? You can find out how at Shelley’s professional development session, “Writing Short Scripts for the Web.”

One of Shelley's recent storyboards for an upcoming video

 A full-time animator since 2014, Shelley collaborates with clients, transforming their content into engaging videos with brief, captivating voice-over. In the professional development session, participants will learn Shelley’s framework; the rules she follows when writing scripts for short videos. Distillation is key. Script-writing for the web is about giving your viewer a taste of the topic to tempt them to research on their own. In two minutes, you can’t do much more than that.

Shelley will use the resulting animation as a framework for script do's and don'ts

The session will provide practical experience putting Shelley’s rules to the test. Starting from a piece of long-form science writing, participants will condense the information into a one to two-minute script (about 150 - 300 words). Alternatively, participants can bring a 1500-3000 word piece of their own writing or an article that they've read and enjoyed. Participants with lab backgrounds are welcome to write about their past or present labwork. You will also cover some basics of filming with Jocie Bentley, a Toronto filmmaker. Combined with the opportunity view and critique a sampling of online video, participants will walk away with a solid foundation of the do’s and don’t’s of short-film.

“Writing Short Scripts for the Web” is part of the afternoon concurrent session on Saturday, June 4th at the CSWA conference. The session will run from 2:00 – 4:30 and is limited to 10 participants. 

Dr. Ashley E. M. Miller (aka Dr. Ash) is a writer, an educator, and an eternally curious creature. Her interests are wide-ranging. She's fascinated by the sciences, passionate about the arts, and intrigued by where the two intersect. You can find her tweets at @Dctr_Ash, and she blogs at CrossedBranches.