“How do I read a video script?” Video Answers. Episode 43. Part 2.

In our last episode I introduced you to the 5 key elements of an AV or 2 column script which are the following:

  • Scene
  • Action
  • Character
  • Parenthetical
  • Dialogue.

In this 2nd installment of How to Read a Script, I want to show you a few of the abbreviations you’ll see in your video script.

Abbreviations in a video script are direction or shorthand for the talent, crew, and editors. They keep scripts simple and focused, providing a common way to communicate without taking sentences or paragraphs to do so.

With that as our background, let’s explore the 10 abbreviations you’ll see in a video script, in this Video Answers

  1. B-ROLL is a way to designate additional cutaway shots or other generic footage the editor can use to tell your story.
  2. CU is a Close Up. This framing is just above the head to the upper chest.
  3. ECU is an Extreme Close Up and shows even more detail than a close up – which is why it’s also called a detail shot.
  4. EST is an Establishing Shot. This is usually the first shot of a scene. It’s used to establish the scene and provide the context of where the action is taking place.
  5. LS means Long Shot. Think of a really wide shot where the camera is far away from the subject. That’s a Long Shot.
  6. MOS is shorthand for filming without sound and i’s origin is entertaining. In the 1920’s a German director was shooting a film in Hollywood and said to his crew, “Now ve vill film mit out sound!” which they thought was hilarious and it stuck.
  7. MS is a Medium Shot, which is also called a waist shot because it frames in the actors waist.
  8. OS tells you the actor is physically Off-Screen. This is often used when a character is serving as a narrator for a scene. In the script you’ll see their name followed by a parenthetical of OS.
  9. OTS is another frequently used camera angle and is an abbreviation of Over the Shoulder. In on OTS shot, the camera is lined up behind an actors shoulder with a medium shot of another actor who is facing the camera.
  10. TITLE is just text that appears on a screen. It might include sub-titles or titles superimposed over the video.
There you go. 10 abbreviations you’ll see in a video script.
In our third and final installment on how to read a script I’ll give you 6 practical suggestions that will help you approve your script with confidence knowing you won’t need extra changes later on. That’s in our last installment of “How do I read a script?” on Video Answers.

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