How to Write Animation Script for Video-based Courses
You don’t need a professional writer to create an animation that works. Writing an educational video script is much different from those for movies. The script doesn’t need to be too formal unless you are pitching it to a producer. The main point is to express your ideas to your team members and yourself also.
Why should you do your own script?
The script is a good start to know how things work together. It may seem like an easy step to skip but you will be surprised by how much time and work you can save later in the production process. Especially if you are collaborating with a studio to create awesome animated resources, the script helps you avoid misunderstanding or error in the visual content. Not everyone is e-learning professionals though. Producers can consult you on what types of animation work for online courses, or how to produce the best quality in budget but they are no better instructional designers than you.
This article is one part of the series about the complete process on
How to create an awesome animation script?
Where to start?
There are various stages of writing a simple script that seems overwhelming to most people. To make it easier, let’s start with a brief. The brief identifies the learning objectives, primary audience, animation style and video messages also. This step is vital in giving you the overall direction of the animated videos, which affects the whole course in the long run.
Proper time and effort should be invested to gather information. Everything in your course including the animations needs a purpose. You must have clear learning objectives and video messages in mind, or your animated videos would be nothing but a fun distraction.
If you are a teacher or an instructor, then the work is easy. Let’s make a draft voice-over for your animation. Imagine yourself teaching a class like usual, then write down what you need to say. Please remember to eliminate all the unnecessary or distracting information to keep the videos on the point. This is similar to the common self-recorded video courses in the MOOC world. The instructors need to break down the lesson into bite-sized videos, and it should be no longer than 5 minutes. The ideal length of the video ranges from 1 to 2 minutes. If you have experiences in producing live footages like that, then bravos, the voice-over is a piece of cake now.
If you are not sure about the length of the clip, you could use this basic word count tip:
- 45 seconds – 90-110 words
- 60 seconds – 120-170 words
- 90 seconds – 200-250 words
- 2 minutes – 250-300 words
Create a story
When you have the basic outline ready, use your own imagination and creativity to create a story. You could break the script into different scenes. Then set the timeline, match the voice-over and add texts for each.
A story with characters:
A script often contains three basic acts. Act One introduces viewers the set-up and the tone of the story. Act Two presents the problems the characters meet. And act Three is the resolution. Writing an educational animation script is different from the entertaining ones. However, we could use this structure to make the videos more engaging and easy to understand. If you have trouble with story ideas, then think about the examples you give learners in every lesson. They are reality-based with a clear scenario, which would make great suggestions for your story.
A story without characters:
Lots of the time we create videos explaining some processes or facts without any characters. The key to engagement to these types of videos lies in the design. Just visualize all the information in your mind first with images or icons. We are supposed to go into more visual details in the storyboard, however, you can note down these ideas in your script to make it easier later.
Make it fun
Make sure you add humor factors into the script. Learning should be fun! These small additions to the courses could make big differences in the learning outcomes. We don’t need to be silly to have fun. The fun elements lie in the character design (if you have any characters, and you should have!), the dialogue or the video tone.
For example, if you are creating an online course about the marketing strategy for beginners, instead of explaining the forever long theory, you could make it into a dialogue! The scene could be a conversation between a struggling shop owner, and his friend who happens to be a marketing consultant. A simple story like this could teach learners marketing basics in an easy and engaging way. The content is not new but the revolution lies in the way we approach and improve it.
Format the script
You can format the script whatever you think that makes sense. Many of our clients use a table to write the script for animation. This is an unofficial way for script writing but it works, and it is easy to read also.
However, you could follow these basic rules to have a decent script.
- Font: Courier 12. This is mainly because one script page in Courier 12 is about 1 minute of film.
- Heading and character name: caps
- Music, scene direction or transition: italics
Or long story cut short. You can download a template here.
The script would hardly come out perfect the first time. You should either clear your mind by leaving it for a few days or give it to your colleagues to approach new perspectives. Your teammates with decent knowledge about the project could give you the best instructional design advice.
Free Checklist: How to Make Animated Educational Videos for Online Courses
Essential steps and notes to help you organize your tasks
Animations could become a good visual supporting tool for your online courses. I believe you don’t need to be too formal in the format or the structure of the script. The utmost important thing is to get the ideas through your team and follow strictly your learning objectives.
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