Do you understand the difference between dialogue that’s V.O., O.C., And O.S.? Here’s how it works. So V.O. is usually for a narrator. It’s a voice from above. Take, for example, the movie The Shawshank Redemption. Red, Morgan Freeman’s character, was a character in the movie. He was in the story. But, sometimes, he acted as the narrator, the voice from above. So there was the first time, I think, he met Andy. He was like, “I have to admit, the first time I met Andy,” blah, blah, blah. And so, that would be slugged as Red (V.O.), and then the dialogue underneath it, “I have to admit …”

O.C. is for stands for off-camera, and you only want to put it in when you absolutely need to designate that the character is going to be off-camera. For example, let’s say you got two bank robbers. They just knocked over a bank. Now, they’re running from the cops. They find a corner to hide behind, and one says the other, “Okay. I think we’re safe now. The coast is clear.” And then, suddenly, we see a gun enter the frame, and we hear a voice. The cop says, “Not so fast, mister.” Then, we pull out to reveal that the cop is talking. So you would slug that as Cop (O.C) “Not so fast, Mister.” Okay?

Then, O.S. stands for offstage, and so it’s for when the character is not going to be seen on camera. No matter how far away you pull out that camera, they’re not going to be seeing at all, ever. An example would be a man enters his home, he calls off, “I’m home, honey.” And then, we hear a voice, O.S. Wife, and she’ll say, “I’m upstairs. I’ll be down in a minute.” So in that case, you would slug the wife, Wife (O.S.) “I’m upstairs. I’ll be down in a minute.”

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Michael Jamin, Showrunner, TV Writer, Author

Michael Jamin

For the past 26 years, Michael Jamin has been a professional television writer/showrunner. His credits include King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead, Wilfred, Maron, Just Shoot Me, Rules of Engagement, Brickleberry, Tacoma FD and many more.

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