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Narration preparation, the Colin Day way

Hints and tips: preparing a narration script

More than half of the work that we do on narration copy takes place outside of the booth, well before the red light goes on…


Colin’s approach to narration prep, part one

The first thing I do is rearrange the original script into something that works for me personally – something that is easy on the eye. Often I’m trying to turn a daunting mass of words into something that I’ll enjoy reading. My first aim is to avoid any possibility of negative thoughts towards the project. It’s the first step to making the script my own.

Script Formats

Many clients send their copy in PDF or Excel format. You won’t hear me complaining, but the reading pane in Excel can be a pain (doh!) and rather awkward to read from. PDFs are ok but have very limited edit capabilities. Nothing beats a WordDoc for flexibility and ease of editing.

storyboard_notesThat isn’t to say that our clients don’t send scripts in all kinds of formats. We never moan, and some of the more creative formats can be very helpful.

Storyboards, for example, can provide insight into the client’s overall vision for the finished product. But they can be tricky to try and read from as the text is often spread over multiple pages and that make it hard to get a natural flow to the story.

For those reasons, I usually prefer to get the script WordDoc format to allow for easier editing. Typically, I’ll narrow up the margins, double-space the text, then split the body content into shorter paragraphs or “thought blocks”, then reformat the text into a font size and typeface that I’m used to reading; Georgia is a favourite but Calibri has a beautiful clarity.

We often get sent narration scripts in two columns with audio on the left and shot directions, captions and production notes on right. In this case, it’s very helpful to read through and get a handle on all the visual direction; but once I’ve taken that onboard and unless there is any specific voice direction in there, then chances are I’ll clear or severely edit those columns. All things considered, less clutter is easier on the eye and that blank space can be incredibly useful for adding my own notes. That, however, is another topic for another day. In part 2, I’ll talk about internalising the copy and how I might go about “owning the words”.

If you’re interested in how we can help bring your narration to life then get in touch with us today!