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B10- Script writing

A script is nothing but a written technical document of a project. Writing such detailed information is a part of pre-production. It is mostly a brainstorming process. A script differs from the original story in many ways. The story is targeted directly to its readers, but a script is meant only for the people working on the project and NOT for the readers or viewers. Script is a very systematic and detailed information. It deals with not only the story but- ‘How to present the story to the viewers through a medium’. Such a medium can be a film or it can be a theatrical play, a book, a TV serial or even a video game. Script writing is a thoughtful process, deciding the best way and medium, to convey a story idea to the target viewers.

Q: I have heard about ‘Screen-play’, so what’s the difference in it and a script.

Screen-play is essentially a script made for film or TV serial. The detailed information describing everything about what, when is going to be ‘Played’ on the ‘screen’ is called a ‘screenplay’. Our animation film will also be played on a screen so our script can also be called as a screenplay. Script represents the way of ‘how the story is displayed on screen’. e.g. The camera angle is very important in a script. So, the location of the camera, the angle from which we are viewing, whether the shot is a closeup or not, all such information is clearly mentioned in a script for film. In case of a theatrical performance, the script is called a ‘stage-play’. As you know, in a play all the viewers are looking it from a same direction, so the camera angle is not a primary information here. Instead, the acting, the entry of characters, the dialogues and location of character on the stage plays the important role here. Likewise, a book writing project may also have its own script for the process. This very series, ‘Let’s learn 3D animation’, is a very close example. I did quite a bit of brainstorming, about the overall structure, the volumes. I also planned for ‘which topic will be covered in which article or post?’ etc. In fact I made a mini script for this, covering all the details of the structure of the entire series. By referring it, it becomes very easy to write each post one by one. The goal and direction remains fixed.

In a script for a film, each shot is given a name and a number. If there are any dialogues, those are written after the name of the character speaking it. Sometimes the information about the background music or some special audios is written. If required all other technical details are added. If we convert the script in a visual form it is called a story board. So the storyboard is like a visualised script only. Writing a good script is a very creative but highly brainstorming process.

There are few trend of writing a script. Most of them originated many years ago. But there are many advantages of following those trends. Earlier the scripts were completely hand-written. Then typewriters were used. Nowadays, even if we use computers, the typical typewriter styled courier font is used for script writing. Scripts are always kept simple and easy to read. Each shot starts with the shot number, shot name, camera and other info. Usually this is written in a single line.


Shot-04- INT- Window closeup- Rain starts.

Here, its clear that its the 4th shot and the camera in inside a room. (INT means interior shot), also the camera is looking outside near a window. So this one line explains lot of information.

After this ‘header’ line, as it is called, the details of the actions and events in the shot are written. If we take the same example shot, it can be something like this:

Shot-04- INT- Window closeup- Rain starts.

Location ‘Hero’s room. Camera is near window looking outside. Wind is blowing speedily. The window panels are striking on the frame. The ‘Hero’ is seen from side angle. He is standing besides the window and gazing outside. Thinking deeply. Camera moves near his face. A big lightning flashes at background. Loud sound is heard and flashlight appears on his worried face. And it starts raining. Sound effects- Wind, Lightning and raining sounds.

One after the other, all the technical information for each shot is written. The script helps a lot while the production is undergoing. Specially, this enables each team member to visualise the shot, the same way as other and to keep the same goal for production.

Q: So what about our films script?

Well, in case our ‘Tingu’ short film, we will need to write all such important information in the script. As discussed earlier, we have broken down the story in 3 ACTS. We will step by step reveal the story through each ACT. But we will need to think in much detail, while writing the script. We will mention each shot, its description, things visible in camera frame and the action involved in the shot and so on. We can even mention the lighting, sounds etc. We will soon see it in detail. 

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Posted by Mahesh Deshpande

Director at Advaita Studios Pvt. Ltd. Having wide career experience in Design, 3d graphics and animation, since 1998. Actively involved in various 3d graphics programs and training.