HOW TO: Make your directing better than average

This thread is made solely to help you improve your directing.

These are things I’ve learned over the years that help make your directing much better.

This is for those who have some minimum degree of experience in directing and want to improve it to make their story stand out in the minimum.

I’ve included many common mistakes and how to avoid them :wink:


First and foremost, the simplest thing there is in the episode language, but also the most crucial to understand before you start:


We know @ executes a command and so does &. There’s a very big difference between the two commands. To understand this difference, let me give you a clear image of how the script works. Your script reads every line individually, one after another in order.

Let’s start with this script:

Right now, when your script is running, it’s reading the line 2 first, then the other lines in respective order. If you add a @ command here, like @CHARACTER stands screen center, your script reads the line 2 first, and when the command on this line is completely over, it moves on and reads the line 3, which is your @ command. Now, the script will only move on to your next command as soon as the last command (the @ command on line 3) is completely done.

Whereas, if you use a & command instead of a @ command, the script moves on to the next command (on line 4) right after it read it, not only once it’s completely done.


  • @ command makes the script read it once the command above it is completely done and moves on to the next line once the command is completely done
  • & command makes the script read it once the command above it is completely done and moves on to the next as soon as the command is read

This means that if you put a @ command above an & command, the & command will only start once the @ command above it is completely done. If you put a & command above a @ command, the @ command will start immediately and be executed simultaneously as the & command above it. If you put a & command above another & command, both commands will start at the same time and happen simultaneously. This is the cause behind the very common awkwards pauses you will see in many stories on the app.

The best way I could put this so you perfectly understand it is that there is something you could call an “execution time” that your script does. It’s the time your script takes to move on from one line of code to another. All commands have no execution time, except for the @ commands. These are the only commands with an execution time, which is about a half-second to a second.

Note: commands that require no @ or & (music, sound, volume, background, format, etc.) act as & commands.


@CHARACTER spot x y in zone 0

@transition fade in black 1

As you know, here using @ will make your character appear on the screen before your transition starts. This is where you’ll see the execution time, and it’s not much, but it just ruins the effect you’re going for. The effect you wanted the transition to do isn’t the same. Do you have an awkward pause between every action you make in real life? No.


&CHARACTER spot x y in zone 0

@transition fade in black 1

Your character will spot at the same time your transition starts, so you won’t see any execution time, because there won’t be any, the transition will start instantly and as it fades in (or any other transition) you will see your character already spotted where you want it. As if it was already there before the scene and your transition started. This is (normally) the effect you’re going for.

This is a very basic example of the difference between the @ and & command. I personally love the & command because it gives you way more control over your script (in my opinion) and makes your script way more “flow-y”.

Understanding the big difference between these two commands will allow you to have complete control over your script. Once you understand this, you will know how to avoid common problems you might have when directing like, for example, having a character walk with a rear walking animation and then having them stop and start doing a rear idle animation but in between the two actions your character idles facing the camera instead of rearing for a half second.


When starting a scene, I like to keep a simple routine that helps prevent easy mistakes. My advice is to write following this “technique”:

When placing characters, I like to think that there are 5 parts to a line (more like 4 and a half). There’s the placing, the zone, the facing, the animation, and the layer. Most writers would write something along these lines when placing a character at the beginning of a scene:

@CHARACTER stands screen center

First of all, the second your character isn’t entering a scene after the transition (if you have one), ALWAYS use & instead of @ when placing your character. Second of all, always remember you can input all the placing, the zone, the facing, etc. in one line of code, thanks to the AND command. When placing your character, that it be at the beginning of a scene or after he/she moves, you should always (that’s my advice) write this:

&CHARACTER spot x y in zone 1 AND CHARACTER is idle AND CHARACTER faces left AND CHARACTER moves to layer 2

Also, when spotting your characters, (and I can’t stress this enough) NEVER use the default “stands screen center” or “stands screen right” or etc. That makes your placing awkward and seem effortless. Also, it doesn’t take much time to place your characters so why wouldn’t you take the time to? The only time you should use the “stands screen _” is when you first write a scene so you don’t know where your characters are placed yet (since you need to use the previewer).


(I’m basing what I say here off common mistakes I’ve seen in stories).

Something very important to keep in mind when making characters move is that you can choose how much time they take to do so. A mistake I see a lot is people making their characters run from a spot to another, but their character takes too long to get there so it looks awkward. That’s because your script automatically takes a specific amount of time for a character to move, and usually that time only fits a walking animation. So instead of writing:

CHARACTER walks to spot x y AND CHARACTER is run_athletic_loop

Write this:

@CHARACTER walks to spot x y in time AND CHARACTER is run_athletic_loop

time is the time in seconds your character will take to get to the spot.
You can use this to make characters walk slower when using animations like walk_exhausted_loop and etc.

When making your characters enter or exit a scene, DO NOT use the default command “@CHARACTER exits right”. This makes exiting (or entering) look disproportionate compared to how they are placed (unless you place them using “@CHARACTER stands screen center/right/left/etc.” which you should NOT do). When you want to make your character walk off screen or walk in from an off screen spot, place them off screen with the right SCALE before you then place them on screen where you want them. Do this the other way around when making characters exit.

NOTE: You can use time on @zoom and @pan commands as well! You can use this to control the time your zooms (that I’m sure you already knew) and pans take.

  • When do I use transitions?

At the end and beginning of a scene. But, you don’t have to use transitions between every background change, because changing the background doesn’t mean your scene is actually over. You should use transitions when a scene ends and between this scene and the next one some time passes. Or even if the next scene is happening simultaneously, you can use a transition to indicate that your next scene takes place somewhere else than the previous one.

Another time to use transitions is when putting “flashes” in your story. If lightning strikes, if photos are taken, or if a flashback happens in the middle of a scene (these are my best examples).

  • How to use transitions?

(First thing to note is you cannot use a transition with an &). When a scene ends, use a transition with “out”. Let me explain:

@transition fade out black 1

There are 5 parts to this line:

@transition is the simple command to say this is a transition.

fade is the way of transitioning you’re using. “Fade” is the most common one. You can play around with these styles for different effects.

out means you are transitioning out of a scene.

black is the color you use to transition. You can play around with them.

1 is the time the transition takes. You can play around with it.

When you use a transition at the end of your scene, use “out”. When you transition into the beginning of your next scene, use “in”. When using a transition at the middle of a scene for the reasons listed above, use “out”, (plus most of the time the color you’ll use for these transitions is white instead of black).

Shorter transitions make a more fast paced story. They can be used for comedic effect. Longer, darker transitions make for dramatic effect.


Note: For Mac workers, instead of ctrl, use cmd

Let me introduce you to a command called ctrl + F that allows you to research a word on any website. You should see this little box at the top right and then you can use it to find any word(s) you want in your script in no time. If you wrote the word(s) more than once, you can use the little arrows to jump from one to the other.

If what you want to replace is a common word or number that you have on multiple lines of your whole script (like a character or a number for spot placement), not just the one dozen couple of lines that you want to modify, there is a simple way you can use to select multiple words at the same time. By selecting multiple words or sentences with your cursor while holding the cmd key, you can select, edit and delete multiple words without them necessarily being next to each other. For example:

If you want to select large amounts of text quickly instead of selecting it by holding down your left-click, you can place your cursor at one end of your body of text and then click on the other end while holding shift on your keyboard.

If you want to select your whole entire script in one simple move, just hit ctrl + A but I’m sure you already knew that one :wink:

Keep your script spaced and light so you can easily find your way around and not lose yourself in thousands of lines.

Something I like to use is # lines. When you place a # at the beginning of a line, the line stays in your script but does absolutely nothing. You can use this to take notes and even organize your scenes! You can even use #{ and #} to close sections of your script so you can find yourself.

EDIT: Updated the moving characters section! + Tricks



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Very nice :fist_bump: :yay:

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bOOkmARKED! Very helpful

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I’m trying to make a few fast-paced transitions but there’s always an awkward pause in between each cut! like I don’t want anything to fade I just want clean, fast cuts but there’s always an awkward pause. what do I do?

@cece_hunter I’m still confused :confused:

Can you tell me what you’re confused about? I’ll try my best to make it clearer :slightly_smiling_face:

Thank you so much for this! :revolving_hearts:

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Hi! sorry for the super late reply. I don’t get how I can make my cuts between scenes faster. I’ve seen in lots of stories where the cuts in their scenes get increasingly faster and I don’t know how they do that! please let me know.

If I get what you mean correctly, what you see is people using transitions with shorter times. Instead of using the default time a transition takes when you don’t specify it, they write something along the lines of

@transition fade out back 0.5

Or any time between that and 2.
Plus, to make their transition into the next scene, they place their characters onscreen using & instead of @ so that when they put the transition into that next scene, the characters are already spotted instead of appearing on screen after the transition.

To make it clearer, do not do this:

@transition fade in black 1
@CHARACTER1 spot x y
@CHARACTER2 spot x y


@CHARACTER1 spot x y
@CHARACTER2 spot x y
@transition fade in black 1

Instead, do this:

&CHARACTER1 spot x y
&CHARACTER2 spot x y
@transition fade in black 1

I hope this helps!


thank you! is there a way to cut the scene before the action is finished?

If you use &CHARACTER starts __ instead of @CHARACTER is __ you can do this:

&CHARACTER starts animation
@pause for time
(optional transition)

That way, the transition (or scene change) will happen in the midst of your character’s animation. You can use this with any animation (including walking and exiting). Of course this only works if the animation lasts longer than the time you give the pause.

Hope that helps :wink:

Or dont use a transition at all and it will cut right out.

That’s why I said the transition was optional.

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thanks so much Cece :kissing_closed_eyes:

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My pleasure, glad I helped!

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This is so helpful! Bookmarked

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