Google Video and Writing a Script

A few months after Amazon purchased CustomFlix which allows you to self publish movies on DVD, the big "G" has gone one better with a program that allows you to sell self published movies or videos via download. You can also give the videos away for free if that’s your thing, but if the video is very long or very successful, Google Video reserves the right to charge the downloader (i.e. customer) a fee to cover their costs. The restrictions are: You must own all of the rights to the video, you must upload the video via the Internet and, it can’t be obscene or too racy. They’re going to get a lot of grief about censorship over that last one, but I don’t blame them for trying. If you decide to charge, you can change the price at any time, which is great for experimentation.

Unlike Amazon’s DVD publishing program, Google Video may actually tempt me into making some instructional videos and seeing if I can get any customers. In my last post, I talked about how you can’t edit quality into a book, but as it happens, you can’t produce a quality video without a lot of editing. I wouldn’t recommend shooting 100 hours of raw footage and hoping to find a 90 minute story line in the cutting room, or computer room as the case certainly is, but don’t expect to shoot 90 minutes of video and end up with a 90 minute movie. I would strongly advise writing a script, even if there’s no dialogue, and sticking to it.

I’ve had quite a bit of experience story boarding videos that never got made because the sales channel wasn’t there yet. This means I have hundreds of pages on the internet that show sequences of photos, many of which are very popular and help me sell my books. In the how-to books I’ve authored for McGraw-Hill, I’ve published some photo sequences with instructions that are 60 and 70 stills long, which would provide a pretty good script for shooting a video on the subject.

Writing a script for a video differs from writing instructions for a how-to book primarily in terms of the added direction you have to provide both actor and camera. An actor doesn’t know where you want him to stand or how to hold his hands or his head based on a simple text description taken from a photo sequence. You need to story board the script with precise instructions for how the action will occur. The videographer, whether it’s you or a hired gun, also needs a script for camera angles, how long to hold a shot, close-ups and lighting, the qualities you can’t edit in by using software tricks. Even if you’re only writing a script for a ten minute video, it wouldn’t hurt to read some books targeting the "How to Write a Hollywood Script" market, because whatever else you can say about their movies, the production quality is usually excellent.

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