Re: Scripts and Voice-Over (LONG)

Subject: Re: Scripts and Voice-Over (LONG)
From: Suzanne Lee <suzanne -at- AUTOSIM -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 23 May 1995 09:35:13 -0600

> The main thing, is that the picture is always more important than the
>words. You have to show your audience what you want to "say" and
>use the voice-over for filling-in a few details. This requires a radically
>different mind-set from normal writing, where the words do the job, and
>are supported by a few diagrams for the sake of clarity.


>In short, all of this is a long way of agreeing with Vince Reh, who says
>you should hire an external video company. The only thing I would say, though,
>is that as the product expert, you can be very heavily involved with the

>Mike Cooper


My very small company has produced several videos, so I thought I'd share
my two cents.

Background: I'm a tech/marketing writer, and we have a graphic
artist/video person who is very graphically/visually gifted. I'm
definitely a word person. I agree with Mike that the visuals in a video
are most important; the words are secondary.

We've tried some of each: hiring others and doing it ourselves. What we've
found works the best is:

we write a rough draft of a script that contains all the marketing/tech.
points that we think are important, then give it to our ad agency. They
charge us an enormous amount of money to add a little fluff (IMHO), but
that's another story.

Once everyone agrees to the script, we hire a local talent (local
newscasters often do this kind of work on the side, and are very good and
not too expensive). The time you save by getting a pro is made up for in
the time you DON'T spend shooting, reshooting, and shooting again with the
product manager or whoever the poor sucker is from your own company. The
actor you hire won't need to quit shooting because they have a meeting, a
phone call, or just don't want to be there anymore.

We added a "home-narrated" demo to the end of one video, featuring the
product manager. This was painful to shoot and didn't turn out very well.
He wasn't comfortable in front of the camera. We spent 12 hours to get
less than one minute of him onscreen and another 10 minutes of narration.

Our third video was a small-scale promo for a users' meeting, and we did it
entirely in-house. It came out ok, because the marketing manager had done
some modeling, and she was comfortable on and offscreen. We also used
another guy in the office to voice-over the beginning, because his voice
was just what we wanted. This video served its purpose, but definitely
looked home-done.

So to sum up, I think it's worth it to get pros; video, audio, lighting,
etc. is a lot to think about. Believe me, it never looks like you expect
when you review the footage. And noises (doors slamming, people being
paged on the intercom, etc.) have a way of amplifying on the tape. To look
professional, you have to use pros.

One final thought: video production is time-comsuming and labor-intensive.
It takes a lot of involvement, even if you hire outsiders to do "most" of
the work. Your approval and input are vital all the way through, even in
the edit bay. Otherwise, your company may end up with a look that doesn't
fit them or their product (I think a lot of this depends on the competency
of your ad agency, and how well they know both you and your industry).

Good luck! If you have any questions, you can email me personally.


from Suzanne Lee - suzanne -at- autosim -dot- com
AutoSimulations, Inc. - Bountiful, UT
(801)298-1398 ext 333 fax (801)298-8186

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