(V.O.) vs. (O.S.)

Discussion in 'Basics' started by x.Vigilanti, Sep 26, 2009.

  1. x.Vigilanti

    x.Vigilanti Bronze Member

    Hello Again,

    I'm suddenly having a mental block concerning to correct usage between (V.O.) and (O.S.) can someone please explain the difference?

  2. LukeJames

    LukeJames Gold Member

    Well, to get the obvious out of the way...

    V.O. is voice over. Narration by a character. The thoughts of a character (be careful... this isn't a novel.)

    O.S. is off screen. You might have two characters in a scene and a third comes upon them and speaks before you (the writer) care to reveal this character on screen. Or someone calling in the darkness... Process of elimination would say it's off screen because it is neither narration nor thought.

    If you have a specific example you would like help with....
  3. x.Vigilanti

    x.Vigilanti Bronze Member

    Thanks LukeJames for the reply,

    Here's my dilemma...

    I have a scene of a bound (Tied-up) girl in the trunk (Boot, in UK. I think) of a car. The camera angle is shot from the POV of the character speaking but I don't want to reveal his name yet. Since we (the audience) are watching through the eyes of the person speaking to the girl in the trunk, is this a V.O. or O.S.?

    are you more confused as I am after trying to describe it? LOL
  4. LukeJames

    LukeJames Gold Member

    I get ya!

    For the record, us here in Ohstrailya call it a boot too!

    For this, it wouldn't be O.S. if we the audience can clearly see him.

    Depending on the set up of the scene, you could have this person getting out of the car and coming around to the boot. Then you could call him driver when he speaks. Or like James Cameron (and his co-writer) did in the opening bar scene of T2... the biker Arnie takes the clothes from is smoking a cigar when we first meet him. He is then referred to as CIGAR when he speaks.

    Hopefully thats some food for thought.
  5. davidartiste

    davidartiste Silver Member

    Here in the US its the trunk. A boot goes on a cowboy's foot! HA! Take that! Anyway, I have a similar situation in my script where I do not want to reveal the characters name or identity yet, because he is an important role and the mystery is huge. Anyway, until I revealed who he was, I referred to him as the SHADOWY MAN. You can also use things like POLICE MAN X or something like that and then just say,

    Police Man X removes his hat and steps out of the shadow to reveal he is CAPTAIN FUZZYBOTTOM, 34, a street-smart, overweight and hairy investigator.
  6. x.Vigilanti

    x.Vigilanti Bronze Member


    I don't think I'm making myself clear so I'll try to give you a rough draft of my scene. (I can't properly format this, so you'll just have to visualize).

    ***********BEGIN SCENE********


    The Garage door is closed making the interior PITCH BLACK

    CLICK! A flashlight beam suddenly cuts through the darkness.

    Swift glimpses of a tool rack, garbage cans against a wall, a pair a Jet Ski's on a lone standing trailer.

    The Beam makes a quick dash to the front grill of a 1995 Volvo sedan and then the driver's side headlight. It carefully scans the side of the car, as if searching for a flaw. Slowly, the beam makes it way to the rear of the car and finally stops on the trunk lock.

    A jingle of keys.

    A hand appears holding a set of keys.

    A key is inserted into the lock and turned. The trunk springs open.

    The flashlight illuminates the interior of the trunk.

    Tightly bound with silver duct tape, her eyes and mouth covered, Diane begins to wildly struggle.

    Calm Down, you'll only make it worse.

    Diane's struggling increases.

    I'm going to close the trunk until you calm
    down. I just want to talk.

    The trunk closes. Dull thuds and muffled cries tapper off, then cease.

    The trunk reopens.

    Now listen carefully. I don't want to hurt you, in
    fact I'm going to let you go. But you're going to
    have to wait a bit longer, can you do that?

    Diane frantically nods.

    Good. I'll be back later and this will all be over.


    *************END OF SCENE******

    At no time do we see the persons face or any other part of his body except his hand. The scene is shot as if from the persons POV.

    Is this a (O.S) or a (V.O.)?

    Thanks Again,
  7. craktactor

    craktactor Moderator

    You got it right.

    Really well done, too.

    One minor thing...

    "Tightly bound with silver duct tape, her eyes and mouth covered, Diane begins to wildly struggle."

    I'd place "Diane" at the head of the sentence, because she's the focal point of the shot. Get rid of "her", it's unnecessary. And "Begins to..." either she's struggling, or she isn't.
    I know... nitpicking. But necessary.

    Other than this, nice and visual.
    Can't wait to read this.
  8. x.Vigilanti

    x.Vigilanti Bronze Member


    I can't tell how much your "review" means to me (as well as everyone else). I've been mostly lurking on this site as I grind out my script, and there are obviously some people more knowledgeable than others. As for you being nitpicking... "bring it on!" Please blast holes in my writing as you feel necessary. It will only make me a better writer. Once I get my post count high enough, I'll start posting portions of my script in the workshop and perhaps you (and anyone else who cares to) can take a closer look. I have nearly 50 pages of handwritten notes. I was so disorganized and was having trouble finding my premise until I got Phil's Goldmine Book, which showed me how to break down the construction process of writing a screenplay. So thanks again for really clearing this up for me.
  9. craktactor

    craktactor Moderator

    One quick thing...

    The extension, (O.S.), should be placed after the characters name...


    There ya go.
  10. x.Vigilanti

    x.Vigilanti Bronze Member

    Hopefully someone will see this...

    I have one quickie question that is an extension to my original question.

    While typing my script, I noticed that "Final Draft" gives me the option of using (V.O.) or (v.o) the same for (O.S.) or (o.s.). What is the difference between using capital letters or not?

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