ASK DR. FORMAT: Formatting Voiceover, Prelap and Chyron

Dave Trottier is a produced screenwriter, award-winning teacher, acclaimed script consultant, author of The Screenwriter’s Bible, and friendly host of keepwriting.com. Follow Dave on Twitter: @DRTrottier.

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screenplay formatting

 

STARTING THE SCENE BEFORE THE SCENE

QUESTION:

I am at the end of a scene and have a character from the upcoming scene who says something before we cut to that scene the character is in. How do I format that?

ANSWER:

There are two ways, and I’ll illustrate with two examples. In the first, use a voice over.

DARA (V.O.)
You look like Bozo the Clown.

INT. ALFONSO’S ROOM – DAY

Alfonso frowns at Dara, long red hair streaming from the sides of his head and bald on top, kind of like… well, Bozo the Clown.

As you can see, Dara’s line is actually said in Alfonso’s room, but for effect, we hear it before we cut to the room. It’s a sound transition from one scene to the next and it’s perfectly “legal” in a spec script.

The second method is exactly the same, except you replace the V.O. with the term PRE-LAP.

DARA (PRE-LAP)
You look like Bozo the Clown.

If the sound is not a spoken speech, you can use the PRE-LAP as follows:

PRE-LAP – A dog BARKS followed by a SCREAM and a CRASH.

INT. ALFONSO’S KITCHEN – DAY

Alfonso lies on his back — a St. Bernard licking his face. Grocery bags are scattered across the floor.

FOR CHYRON OUT LOUD

QUESTION:

What is a chyron? [Pronounced k?rän.]

ANSWER:

It’s the caption superimposed anywhere on a television or movie screen. In a screenplay, it’s handled much like a superimposition (SUPER):

CHYRON: “Did I just say that?”

You could also format it as you would a text message, if you prefer.

A bubble cartoon CHYRON appears above Jimbo’s head: “Did I just say that?”

The term also refers to the text-based graphics that appear at (or move across) the bottom of your TV screen during a news broadcast or sports event.

Good luck and keep writing!

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One thought on “ASK DR. FORMAT: Formatting Voiceover, Prelap and Chyron

  1. Jason

    Great info, Dave, especially on PRE-LAP!

    I always thought – CHYRON “Blah blah.” – was for television, and – SUPER: Blah blah. – was for film.

    Is there anything that?

    Are there differences or nuances I’m missing?

    Thanks!

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