First, I’d like to thank you for answering my last question. It was a big help and since then my writing career has been moving forward — slowly, but forward nonetheless. Also, my spine is in better shape.

My question is this: Is an animation script supposed to time out the same as a live action piece (one page equals one minute of screen time), and if not, how do you know how long a scene — especially an action-filled scene — will last on screen?

The two animation scripts I’ve read (half hour TV) are both long and short. One was 35 pages long. The other was 22 pages long, which is still longer than the 19 minutes of screen time, but not by much. Any words of wisdom?

Oh, and in case you haven’t mentioned it on the site, a great TV writing website is TVWriter.com.

–Horace
Toronto

For starters, the one-page-per-minute rule of thumb is nothing to bank on. For me, it’s like saying it never rains in July, or that reality-show alliances only last until mid-point: while it generally holds sort of true, you wouldn’t want to stake your life on it.

Screenplays top out at about 120 pages, and most movies are about two hours long. But most one-hour U.S. television shows are really 41 minutes, although the scripts can be up to 60 pages or more. The script for a show like ER, with its rapidly spouted medical lingo, tends to run long. And don’t get me started on Gilmore Girls, where the character never seem to break for air.

As for animation scripts, I’m not aware of any particularly appropriate page-per-minute guideline. If you’re writing a spec episode of a given show, my best advice is find a sample script that’s been shot and aim for that page count. Failing that, I’d aim for something a hair over the page-per-minute guideline. It may not be right, but odds are it won’t be terribly off.

And thanks for the link.