Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Life of a Podcast: Writing the Script

Like anything else the podcasts and other video programs produced here at the Film/Video Archives start simple enough, with an idea. These ideas being our many events and announcements of special programs from the museum. However, it is our job to come up with a way to promote in an informative and interesting way. This is where the script comes in.

Production Assistant Brandon Morgan captains most of the podcasts and videos seen regarding promotions. Production Head Daniel Harvison responsible for much larger projects such as exhibit videos and the Restoring an Icon: Charles W. Morgan programs.

When writing a promotional script, as you will see like any other part of our jobs, we have a fantastic arsenal of tools at our disposal. In this case, reference books, each with their own special job.

Websters Dictionary- Something no writer should EVER be without for obvious reasons.

Standard Handbook of Synonyms, Antonyms, & Prepositions- This book, coupled with Websters, helps us greatly expand our vocabulary for a more powerful, and therefore more effective script.

Style The Basics of Clarity and Grace- English is by far one of the most complicated and confusing language in the world. This book holds the key to unlocking the more confusing rules behind our language as well as introducing tools to clean up a cluttered script of unnecessary language. It also has a neat section on "Myths" of the English language that would greatly upset your Middle School English Teacher.

Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer- As the title says, this book is full of tips and tricks to improve any writer's style, including subtle nuances in form and sentence structure. The section on cures for Writer's Block is nothing short of a saving grace.

The Poet's Dictionary- In many ways a writer is very much a poet. Within this book are several tools in poetry that when used carefully, can spice up any script to grab the attention of the viewer.

Once the first draft is written, the production team cooperates with the event supervisors and Mike O'Farrell of the Marketing and Communications team check the script for any changes or corrections to suit their needs. Working together, what the two teams produce as a final product is ready now ready for narration, or in some cases, straight onto the video shoot.

Dan Harvison's Restoring an Icon podcasts, however. Are another story completely. Watching these videos you will notice that there is no real script behind them, and yet each one is structured with a strong narrative and even flow throughout. These programs are written by the use of interview soundbytes. Once an interview on the specified topic has been taken. Dan will review the footage, selecting quotes and sometimes even single words to construct the narrative of the program. This is the same technique documentaries use on a regular basis. Of course, to pull this specific technique off, one has to be both good writer as well as a good editor. Thankfully for us, Dan is both of these.

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