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10 Helpful Tips On How To Write An Animation Script

ben marvazi 2020

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Whether it’s an animated explainer video or musical jingle, a well-written script is the backbone that holds any video together. The script is an important document that outlines all of the elements that will be seen and heard by your viewers.

Several other aspects, such as the voice-over and animation ideas, rely on it to be executed properly in the video. Without the script, you won’t be able to begin working on any type of video project for your client.

As an animator, you’ll need to work with writers to create videos for your clients. Both of you must be on the same page. Guidelines that you set will let the writer know how to create scripts that are up to your standards and smoothen the scriptwriting process for you and your future animation clients.

In this blog post, we will share with you ten helpful tips on how to write an animation script with your scriptwriter.

1) Gather the Necessary Materials and Information

a man scrolling through information


Generally, you can create guidelines for writing scripts that are relatively loose for your scriptwriters to let their imagination run wild. However, one thing that they must always come back to is the creative brief.

The creative brief is the document that contains the animation client’s video objectives, as well as their brand guidelines and other information. This will help your scriptwriter get a better idea of how to write the script for your animation client, the best way to meet their objectives, and the overall tone of the video. 

You can learn more about what your animation client wants by looking through other means aside from the creative brief. Promoshin’s questionnaire, for example, allows animation clients to provide vital information for their videos, such as their preferred video style, length, call-to-action, and more. 

Once you get this information, you can then schedule a kick-off call with the project manager. This step is usually done after initially acquiring the source materials provided by the client. 

Use the kick-off call to gather more information or clarify any details that you may be unclear about. This will ensure that you, your animation client, and everyone else you’ll be working with are on the same page before the video project begins.

2) Send the Guidelines to Your Animation Scriptwriter

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GIF from The Office via GIPHY

Once you have all of the necessary information from the brief, source materials, and kick-off call, you can send them to your scriptwriter so they can begin brainstorming ideas for the script.

Along with these materials, you should also send them your guidelines for writing the script. These guidelines will not only help the writer in producing the best script possible, but they will also lower the number of revisions needed if the client requests some changes to be made.

The script and animation ideas are usually generated by the writers with whom you work. Your animation client may, however, occasionally provide you a script to work on. In cases like these, it’s the writer’s job to come up with animation ideas to accompany the script that the client has sent.

3) Ask Your Animation Scriptwriter to Review the Brief

people looking at mathematical formulas and analyzing them

GIF from Nickelodeon via GIPHY

Before starting to work on the script, it’s important to have your writer go over the brief and ask themselves the following questions:

  • Is the client interested in a story or an informative video?

Your writer should first determine what type of video the animation client is looking for. An informative video will get straight to the point; listing the facts in an easy-to-understand format. A story on the other hand will be more indirect, following a series of events that will eventually lead to a conclusion.

While both of these types of videos have their strengths and weaknesses, your writer should review the source materials to find out what type of video will have the greatest impact on the animation client’s video while also meeting their needs.

  • What’s the main purpose of the video?

The scriptwriter should also know what the client’s video’s end goal is. Why does the animation client want a video made? Is it to sell a new product or service? To explain how a specific software works?

By answering this question, your writer will now have a clear ending to the script to which they can work towards. This will help keep them on track while writing and prevent them from adding unnecessary information to the script.

  • Who is it for?

A script that does not resonate with its audience is something your writer should avoid at all costs.

By determining the target audience of your animation client, your writer will be able to adjust their writing and tone. This way, they’ll avoid alienating the audience and instead, keep them engaged with the video for a longer time.

  • What problem are they trying to solve for their customers?

This question may seem similar to the video’s purpose. However, knowing the problem your animation client’s product or service solves helps your writer explain why the audience sorely needs this product in their lives. 

Since your writer already knows your client’s target audience at this point, they can effectively communicate how important this product is.

  • What do their video link examples have in common?

Your writer can also identify common points found in your animation client’s video link examples. The reference videos from your clients can serve as a starting point for your scriptwriter to jump off from.

Moreover, the writers can return to these common points while writing to draw inspiration for new lines and even animation ideas.

4) Urge Your Animation Writer to Use a Template

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GIF from Simpsons World via GIPHY

Don’t forget to send your scriptwriter a template along with your guidelines. Keep this in mind, especially if it’s your first time working with a scriptwriter. This template will not only show the scriptwriter how to format the script they will write, but will also make drafting the script easier.

Essentially, the template should separate the page into two columns. The left side will be labeled the “Voiceover Script” and the right side will be labeled “Visuals.” Creating two columns will make it easier for you, your writer, and your animation client to visualize how the video will look just from reading the script.

5) Limit Your Animation Writer’s Word Count

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GIF from Reddit via GIPHY

Any good script can tell a lot more by using a lot less. Your writer should be familiar with this concept of show don’t tell. However, it’s still best to encourage your writer to keep their word count to a minimum when drafting the script.

Check the brief with your writer to determine the animation client’s desired length for the animated video. This will set the limit for their voiceover’s word count.

Here at Promoshin, we typically set a maximum of 70 words per 30 seconds, a maximum of 140 words per minute, 210 words per minute and 30 seconds, and so on.

By setting a word count, you and your writer will prevent the voiceover from sounding rushed in the actual video. Moreover, your voice talent will appreciate it. Keep in mind that the aforementioned word count is just an example. As an animator, know that you can set a word count for your writer to hit. 

6) Have Your Animation Scriptwriter Create Structure

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GIF from MBN via GIPHY

At times, your scriptwriter might face difficulties getting things off the ground, as staring at a blank page can often cause creative blocks. 

If sending your writer a reference video doesn’t work, the best thing you can do is to remind your writer that they can use the type of video to develop a structure for the video. For an explainer video, they can use the example shown below.

Structure of an Animated Explainer Video

  • Problem

Your writer should begin the video with things as they are. They should present the problem to the target audience, and emphasize how this problem affects their day-to-day lives.

  • Solution

Your audience will have empathized with the video at this point. They will have recognized the problem presented and acknowledged that it has an impact on their life. This is the ideal time to introduce the solution that will solve their problem!

  • How It Works

This section will discuss how your animation client’s product or service can be used by the audience. A short demonstration of how to use it is best.

  • Benefits

Aside from the major benefit of the product solving the viewer’s problem, your writer can also mention the different features of the product and focus on how it can improve their lives. Take for example a laptop. Instead of saying “1TB of storage,” your writer can phrase it as “An abundance of storage space.”

  • Call-to-Action

Finally, your writer may end the video with a call-to-action. A CTA can guide the audience to purchase the product or subscribe to the service, increasing the number of conversions your client’s animated video will receive.

7) Remind Your Animation Scriptwriter to Implement Best Practices

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GIF from HyperX via GIPHY

Implementing best practices when writing the video script often leads to fewer revisions from the team and even the animation client. Below is a list of things your writer should keep in mind while writing.

  • Keep the Video Short

Thanks to the prime real estate a short video provides, being able to cram as much information in as little time as possible is a skill in and of itself. Your writer can use this to their advantage as an audience’s attention can start to dwindle the longer the video gets.

Make sure to have your writer trim the fat and take out any unnecessary points and information that do not add any value to the script.

  • Capture the Audience’s Attention

Like what was mentioned before, it can be difficult to keep the audience’s attention as their interest can fade over time. Therefore, it’s important to grab their attention as soon as possible.

Your writer can considerably boost the chances of the audience staying to watch the rest of the video by hooking them within the first few seconds.

  • Speak in the Second Person Point-of-View

The second person point-of-view is a perspective that is commonly used to give instructions and explanations. It usually uses the pronouns you, your, and yours. In addition to being able to establish a connection with your audience, this perspective is excellent for informative explainer videos.

  • Use Language Your Client’s Audience Understands

Your writer should also focus on how they will communicate with the audience of your animation client. They should be able to choose words that are easy to understand.

By using everyday slang or speaking in a  conversational tone, your writer will be able to create a stronger impression on your client’s audience rather than using unfamiliar phrases and technical jargon.

Despite this, your writer should remember that there is a difference between being conversational and being sloppy. The goal here is to be able to speak to the audience casually while still getting the point across. 

  • Use the Right Tone for the Video

Setting the right tone for the video will dictate how the audience will feel while watching it. This can even influence them later on especially when the call-to-action is delivered. Your writer must choose the right tone to match the animation client’s brand image and voice, but never at the expense of the viewer.

  • Add a Touch of Humor

Humor is a useful tool when used correctly. It can instantly grab attention and establish a connection with the audience from the get-go. Additionally, the effective use of humor might encourage the viewers to share the video with others, expanding your reach of potential clients.

8) Prompt Your Animation Writer to Be Detailed

a detailed writer

GIF from National Geographic Channel via GIPHY

As you may already know, animation provides a number of advantages over shooting live-action videos. These can include conveying messages that are beyond human linguistics, and even using it as a form of art whilst incorporating the best parts of conventional video techniques. 

These benefits broaden the horizon of possibilities of what you can put on screen, which is why you should encourage your writer to let their imagination run wild when thinking of animation ideas to accompany the voiceover in the script.

However, you must also remind your writer to be as detailed as possible when describing the scenes.

It’s much easier for you and everyone involved to bring your writer’s ideas to life when they are explained and described thoroughly. The more descriptive elements there are in a scene, the easier it will be to understand your writer’s vision. 

As a general rule of thumb, it would be best to have a new scene or visual element for every 3 to 10 words. This will help keep the audience engaged throughout the video. These things, however, also depend on the writer’s visual idea and what they deem needs to be portrayed.

For example, instead of writing “4 or 5 people. One of them is holding something,” your writer can describe it as “5 people. The lady in the green jacket is holding a red book.”

Keep in mind that being descriptive means paying close attention to every last detail and not leaving anything up to chance. Your writer can use as many cells or lines in the template as necessary as these can help storyboard the video later on.

When repeating a scene, your writer should copy and paste the text instead of phrasing it as “as seen in scene 5.” This is because scenes can be rearranged during revisions and might be jumbled up with the actual scene that they intended to portray. 

9) Cap Your Animation Writer’s Usage of Text Effects

black screen and silence

GIF from hoppip via GIPHY

When done correctly, text effects in animation can be informative and beneficial. However, too much text might make the video jarring because the audience may be forced to read while watching. 

This is why, if your writer is going to add text animation, remind them to specifically note down in the animation ideas the actual text and where the text will appear in the video. Examples of places where your writer can place text are speech or thought bubbles, signs, and the like. 

An alternative way your writer can limit their usage of text effects is by replacing text with symbols, like the human icon, the car icon, and others. These can easily convey the same message to the audience without requiring them to read it. 

10) Ask Feedback From Your Animation Client

person waiting for client's feedback

GIF from Creative Market via GIPHY

Once your scriptwriter completes the first draft of the script, have them send it over to you so you and the production team can go over it together. Make sure to check the brief against the script for any inconsistencies or discrepancies.

You can then pool your comments and suggestions together and send them back to your scriptwriter for revisions. Use this time to iron out any kinks and details before sending it to the animation client for their review.

This will minimize the number of revisions that the animation client will request if there are any.

After receiving the client’s feedback, you can then relay this to your scriptwriter so that they can make the necessary changes to the script. Once the client does not have any more feedback, you can then move on to the next step of the video production process.

How to Write an Animation Script and Why You Should Do It

Writing a script for an animated video is crucial because it will serve as the video’s backbone that you refer to when creating the storyboard, animating, and finalizing the video.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to writing animation scripts for your clients. Each video brief will have different objectives, brand voices, target audiences, and more.

Because of this, your scriptwriter can be creative when writing original scripts to make videos more engaging. However, it is all the more important that you and your scriptwriter are on the same page when working together. 

To do this, you need to gather source materials to give to your scriptwriter. You can get these from the creative brief, ask your animation client to answer a questionnaire, and schedule a kick-off call with the project manager to clarify details that are not clear in the source material. 

Once you have these details, send them to your writer along with some guidelines to help them draft the script. Some example guidelines include a template to format the script, the basic structure of an explainer video, and even being as specific as possible with the animation ideas. 

These guidelines assure that both you and your scriptwriter are operating on the same wavelength and share a general understanding of your client’s needs. It can also help your scriptwriter maintain a consistent level of quality while writing excellent scripts for different animation clients.

After your writer drafts the script, go over it with your production team and send your comments to the writer for revisions. This ensures that there will be less feedback from your animation client once you send the script to them for review. 

Once you and the production team have resolved all your comments and suggestions, you can then send the script to your animation client for review. The animation client’s opinions are also equally important since you are making the video for them.

It would be best to apply all of the feedback from the client before working on the video itself. This will save you a lot of time and headaches later on as you go further in the video production process. 

For more information and tips regarding animation and its business side, sign up for our free masterclass or download a copy of our free marketing handbook.

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