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01 JULY 2005

Beatscript: action-centred scripting for shortfilms and animations

"Beats are a unit of action first described by Constantin Stanislavski. Although details about his specific terminology are sketchy, varying between beads, bits and beats, the meaning is consistent. Terence Smith who has published notes on Stanislavski explains that 'identifying actions involves breaking the play into segments (bits or beats). Each bit embodies a single action'.

Accordingly a beatscript is a scripting aid used for describing story ideas. It offers a level of detail not afforded by the standard feature–film screenplay format. This makes it especially useful for describing short–film, animation and short sequence ideas. Its structure is focused on action rather than thought. This allows screenwriters to organise their narrative ideas in a concise manner that is conducive to screen presentation. It prevents authors from describing non–tangible, subjective elements that are unable to be effectively represented in screen form. Beatscripts are used as the starting point for generating storyboards and shootingscripts. While beats are used to describe action, shots are used to describe the visual screen presentation of action. There isn't a direct relationship between individual beats and shots. In situations where an event is significant in a sequence, a single beat might equate to a single shot (and is likely to be framed as a close–up). Whereas where a series of beats might describe a general idea, these beats might collectively equate to a single shot (which is likely to be framed as a long–shot). The specific visual treatment of beatscript ideas is usually determined by the cinematographer or director (which on small projects is usually the same person)."

(Simon Perkins, 2005)



20053Dactionanimationbeads • beats • beatscript • bits • Constantin Stanislavskimethods for design practiceprose storyboardscreenplay formatscripting aidsequence • Sharon Carnicke • shooting-script • short filmSimon Perkins • story event • storyboard • Terence Smith (Tezza)

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