“How do I read a video script?” Video Answers. Episode 42. Part 1.

You’re feeling good. Your creative brief is done and you’re in the scripting stage for your video. Then your script arrives and you realize, “There’s a lot in here that I’m not sure I understand.”
Don’t panic, in this three part series on how to read a script, I’ll give you the answers you need to understand that script. And we’ll start with the five elements of a video script in this Video Answers.

If the creative brief is the destination of your video, then the video script is the road map. One of the best ways I know to help you understand a video script is to remind you that a video production script is your completed video in written form.
There are actually several different types of scripts: From Screenplays and Stage plays to Audio and AV scripts.
For most corporate/business uses the video script of choice is usually the AV or 2 column script. AV is an abbreviation for Audio/Video.
The left column is for the video content and the right column is for audio content.
The video column includes what you’ll see in your video and the audio column includes those elements you’ll hear in your video.
So the narrator will always be in the audio column while titles will always be in the video column.
To make this process a little more visual for you, I’ve reformatted the script of the holiday classic, It’s a Wonderful Life.
The AV script includes FIVE key elements you need to know.

  • Scene

Also called a slugline it tells you when and where the scene is set in 3 parts:

1) The first part tells you if the scene is set inside (interior/INT.) outside (exterior/EXT.)
2) The second part tells you the location of the scene
3) The third part refers to the time of the scene


  • Action

This is a descriptor of what’s happening in the scene.

  • Character

The character is simple enough, it tells you who is speaking.

  • Parenthetical

A parenthetical is a description that appears below the name of a character and before their dialogue. It gives the actor the context of who they are speaking to or describes the way they are speaking.

  • Dialogue

The dialogue tells you what the character says in the scene.

Those are the five key elements of an AV or 2 column script:

  1. Scene
  2. Action
  3. Character
  4. Parenthetical
  5. Dialogue

In our next video, I’ll introduce you to some of the abbreviations you’ll encounter in a script. Abbreviations like LS, MS and POV. Look for those and a few more in our next Video Answers episode: “How do I read a script?

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