Presentation on theme: "WRITING FOR TELEVISION “The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the."— Presentation transcript:
WRITING FOR TELEVISION “The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason. “ Hunter S. Thompson
WRITING FOR TV Pictures + sound + words = great TV Always remember, less is more! Write less. Show more pictures. Give the viewer credit for being smart. Embellish, add, explain, point out, describe.
TV top ten writing tips 1) chronological order 2) Use Short sentences. Sentence fragments. Poetry. Repetition. Rhythm. 3) Don’t say exactly what the pictures show. (Unless there is a specific reason to point something out.) 4) Write in the active style. (like we did in Radio) E.g.: Police have arrested a suspect in the slaying. Not: An arrest has been made in the alleged incident.
TV top ten writing tips 5) Use conversational English. Write the way you talk (like in radio). 6) Strong descriptive writing. 7) Don’t confuse the viewers (no cross scripting). 8) Your best pictures are your best opening scene. 9) One thought per sentence. 10) Intro: just tease -- don’t tell the whole story. Except in big BIG stories…like 9-11, SARS, Second Coming of Christ, etc.
Television Story Forms Almost all copy in local television news revolves around three basic story forms: - the Reader - the V/O (voice-over) - BITE V/O - V/O CLIP V/O (many variations) - the SOT (sound-on-tape) or PKG (reporter package)
The READER A Reader is usually a short story read entirely on camera with no supporting video. Readers are rare in newscasts because TV is such a visual medium. However, breaking news may require readers when the visuals are not yet available.
The V/O V/O is short for voice-over. The anchor “voices over” the video and typically appears on camera only for the first line of the copy. In addition, the anchor may appear on camera for the final line. The typical V/O runs 20 to 40 seconds.
The BITE V/O A BITE V/O is a V/O that contains a short burst of sound (a sound bite or brief interview) off the top. The sound BITE generally runs 7 to 13 seconds. Typically, a BITE V/O runs about 45 seconds.
VO CLIP VO This is similar to the actuality we learned about in Radio. A voiceover sets up a recorded quote (CLIP) and then another voiceover adds a further piece of information in the TAG following the CLIP. Some stations also refer to a CLIP as a SOT, but for the sake of clarity we will stick to the term CLIP.
The SOT/PKG The SOT or PKG is a self-contained story on tape that includes both reporter narration and interviews. The typical package runs about 1:30, but length varies depending on the importance and news worthiness of the item. SOT/PKGs are usually introduced by an anchor or the reporter who created it. The anchor or reporter may also wrap up the SOT/PKG after it finishes (called a ‘top and tail’).
The anchor copy introducing the SOT/PKG is referred to as the “lead” or “throw.” The anchor copy following the SOT/PKG is referred to as the “tag.” A lead and tag might add an additional 20 seconds to a SOT/PKG. The SOT/PKG
TV formatting (OC VO) ANCHOR OC TT VO TAKE VTR [SUPER = LIBYA AIRSTRIKES/Missiles hit air defence systems @ 00:00] (**O/C**) GOOD EVENING. WE HAVE BREAKING NEWS FROM LIBYA AT THIS HOUR. U-N FORCES HAVE LAUNCHED THE FIRST CRIPPLING AIR STRIKES ON LIBYA’S AIR DEFENCES. (**V/O**) FRENCH FIGHTER JETS AND U-S CRUISE MISSILES WERE THE FIRST TO BATTER LIBYAN DEFENCES ALONG THE WESTERN COAST, ERASING MOAMMAR GADHAFI’S MISSILE AND RADAR SYSTEMS. DUBBED OPERATION ODYSSEY DAWN, A COALITION OF COUNTRIES, INCLUDING CANADA, ARE NOW ENFORCING THE UNITED NATIONS-BACKED NO-FLY ZONE.
TV formatting (OC BITE VO) ANCHOR OC TT BITE VO TAKE VTR (BITE 5 SEC.) [SUPER = LIBYA AIRSTRIKES/Missiles hit air defence systems @00:00] (**O/C**) GOOD EVENING. WE HAVE BREAKING NEWS FROM LIBYA AT THIS HOUR. U-N FORCES HAVE LAUNCHED THE FIRST CRIPPLING AIR STRIKES ON LIBYA’S AIR DEFENCES. (**BITE V/O**) FRENCH FIGHTER JETS AND U-S CRUISE MISSILES WERE THE FIRST TO BATTER LIBYAN DEFENCES ALONG THE WESTERN COAST, ERASING MOAMMAR GADHAFI’S MISSILE AND RADAR SYSTEMS. DUBBED OPERATION ODYSSEY DAWN, A COALITION OF COUNTRIES, INCLUDING CANADA, ARE NOW ENFORCING AN UNITED NATIONS-BACKED NO-FLY ZONE.
TV formatting (OC CLIP VO) OC TT SOT TAKE VTR [SUPER = STEPHEN HARPER/Prime Minister @00:00] OC (**O/C**) SIX CANADIAN FIGHTER JETS ARE JOINING THE U-N COALITION. PRIME MINISTER STEPHEN HARPER SAYS RIDDING LIBYA OF GADHAFI IS THE ULITMATE GOAL OF MILITARY ACTION. (**SOT**) IN: HE SIMPLY WILL NOT… OUT: …JUST SAID IT ALOUD. RUNS 00:12 (**V/O**) OPPOSITION LEADERS ARE SUPPORTING CANADA’S ROLE BUT WORRY ABOUT A DRAWN-OUT CONFLICT.