Friday, April 20, 2007

Mixing up my (O.C.) with my (O.S.)

I'm writing my spec TV pilot in Final Draft and am getting myself confused about whether I should be using (O.C.) or (O.S.) in certain situations - can some helpful person clarify these terms for me?

Obviously, (O.C.) indicates that the dialogue is spoken by someone who is Off Camera, while (O.S.) means the words are said by someone Off Screen. But should I only use Off Camera when the character is in the scene, but isn't visible? If so, does Off Screen indicate dialogue that the audience can hear but the characters on screen can't?

It's all too much for my tiny brain. Somebody, anybody, please, put me out of my misery. Bueller? Bueller?


Chris Weston said...

Surely it's the director's job to decide who's in the shot, Dave? Or even the editor, if the scene has been covered from multiple angles?

Unless you mean we are hearing the dialogue of a character who isn't present in the scene at all, in which case that'd be a "VO" (Voice Over), right?

Lianne said...

I usually just use O.S. As Chris said, if the character either isn't in the scene or the other characters in the scene can't hear what they are saying then I use V.O. Don't know if that is right, but it's how I do it!

Robin Kelly said...

OS = film
OC = audience sitcoms

Far away said...

I've never used OC or OS in my life.

I'd definitely go for VO

Chris (ukscriptwriter) said...

VO should only be used for narration should it not?

TonyB said...

I think you’d be fine just sticking with OS in all situations where someone is not in vision but is part of the scene, no matter where they physically are.

The distinction between OS and OC has become blurred over the years and OS has taken the lead. I've never actually seen OC used in the UK.

The original distinction was that OS was used when the characters in a scene were in separate locations, for example someone in vision talking to someone on the phone, where we hear the phone caller's voice but we don’t see them.

OC was used for when the characters were in the same physical space, eg. a room, but for some dramatic reason one or more of the characters is off-camera.

OC is used less often these days because it references the camera and most spec script writers are now aware that this is not good as it potentially takes the reader out of the story.

VO is used when a narrator or one of the characters recounts, by voice and not in vision, some back story or exposition for the benefit of the audience. A voice over is not part of the action of the scene and is not heard by the characters (so I agree with Lianne and Chris).

One other term which you might come across David is a UK television equivalent to OS –‘OOV’, which stands for 'out of vision'.

In my days as a First AD at Granada this was the standard term in both drama and sitcom, not OS. However, everyone now knows what OS means so it's not really a big deal.

Perhaps if you're writing for a specific TV show it would be handy to see one of their scripts to see which terminology they favour?

Anonymous said...

I searched on google about precisly what OS and OC meaned and founded this page because here on Mexico is frecuently used the OV as Off-Voice and VO for Voice over. I got confused with my finaldraft now that Im writing on english and I got not helk of an idea of what those extensions meaned. Thanks!