We Were On a Break – Week 43

You are wondering what a Voice over Actor does during a slow time. If that person is a computer nerd, they might do some coding!

Adobe Acrobat does a decent job of working as a TelePrompTer to help you keep up a steady pace while recording, as we have discussed. I wanted to improve on that solution, because not every author provides a manuscript in the optimal layout.

To minimize distractions during a read, I like to have the script in an easily readable format: a minimal font of consistent size, single-spaced, a blank line between paragraphs, and left-justified. To do that can take a little time between LibreOffice (the Linux equivalent of Word) and Okular (the open source equivalent of Acrobat) to export, rework, and reimport. If the book is a few hours long, to me this is time well spent. It minimizes distractions, such as changing fonts and sizes, excessive line feeds, and other things that can detract from the read.

As I have done more Voice over Work, I have realized that pacing and breathing can present challenges, and it is made even more difficult by poor formatting within the document. I further have realized that just as poor formatting degrades from the read, then excellent formatting should enhance the read! And that is where the shell script writing came into play.

The following code will be on no use to almost everyone who stumbles across this post, but it is the beginning of something that may be of use some day, so I put it in seminal form here. This snippet will take a text document and break it down into smaller phrases based on punctuation. When a manuscript is processed through it, it goes from this paragraph to the following:

The following code will be on no use to almost everyone who stumbles across this post,
but it is the beginning of something that may be of use some day,
so I put it in seminal form here.
This snippet will take a text document and break it down into smaller phrases based on punctuation.
When a manuscript is processed through it,
it goes from this paragraph to the following:

What good does that do? If that isn’t obvious and of apparent benefit to you, then I don’t guess I can or need to explain it! Now when I read, I can easily spot my opportunities for breathing and pauses, and that saves me a few edit points per page.

Here is the code, for Perl:

#!/usr/bin/perl

use strict;
my $pont=qr{,};                                            ## pontuation for doublespace
my $pont2=qr{[.:!?]+};                                ## pontuation for doublespace
my $abrev=qr{\b(?:Pr|Dr|Mr|[A-Z])\.}; ## abreviations

$/=””;

while(<>){ chomp;                              ## for each paragraph,

# s/\h*\n\h*/ /g;                                    ## remove \n
s/($pont)\h+(\S)/$1\n$2/g;                 ## pontuation+space
s/($pont2)\h+(\S)/$1\n$2/g;               ## pontuation+space
s/($abrev)\n/$1 /g;                             ## undo \n after abreviations

print “$_\n\n”;
}

I would like to say this is my code, or that I give credit where this was due, but a useful forum member posted this to a messaging system for public review, and I neglected to get the contributor’s name.

The long view of this is a web based system that will reformat, rephrase, and auto scroll through a manuscript. I am also working on a process that will embed in the manuscript notices to let me know if I am on schedule for getting very long manuscripts completed on time. That will be the post next week, since it really is impossible for me to take a break completely from work! See you then!

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