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Australian Video Camera: Review Final Draft 10

October 16, 2016

By Steven T Boltz   Sun, Oct 16, 2016

If you want to put together a script using the best possible tools, Final Draft is it says Steven T Boltz 

I’m a planner. A real measure-twice-cut-once kind of guy. A self-proclaimed structure-monkey. Honestly, it’s taken me fifteen minutes to write this much because I kept switching the order of those first few sentences.

So imagine what it’s like writing a script. One-hundred odd scenes. Note cards or Post-Its all over the place, switching, moving, cutting, replacing. It can do your head in. One imagines the frustrated writer, sitting at his note card-strewn kitchen table, throwing his hands in the air, as a disembodied spruiker cries, “There’s got to be a better way!”

And now there is. With their new Beat Board and Story Map features, Final Draft 10 has achieved perfection. And this is even before you consider the Collaboration and Alternate Dialogue features.

“The Beat Board is a brainstorming space for collecting ideas, breaking story, and organising story ideas into beats,” informs the Final Draft 10 tutorial. But it’s so much more than that. It’s also a Godsend! The norm for decades has been the combination of note cards, thumbtacks, and cork board, but the Beat Board feature makes them all but obsolete.

By double clicking on the screen in Beat Board mode, you open a virtual note card. There, you name the beat and describe the action. Then you drag these beats around the grid to organize your story, same as you would at home on your kitchen table or office wall. Except it’s all contained. Now I can take my laptop to the coffee shop, the beach, wherever, and work without having to wrack my brain about what order the cards are in back home. (Take them with me, are you kidding? You ever try spreading note cards on a beach towel?)

The Story Map is a timeline that runs across the top of the Beat Board, which allows you to mark your plot points and even your page length. If you’re writing a screenplay and, like myself, subscribe to the Hero’s Journey, you can mark these points along the Story Map to chart your progress. Even better, if you’re writing for TV, which has an even more specific structure, you can mark the acts-out along your specified page limit. And if you colour your note cards, it gives you a nice little rainbow effect there under the ribbon.

Collaboration is something akin to Final Draft’s former CollaboWrite feature (the absence of which I lamented in my FD9 review). Basically, it allows you to invite any number of people to write with you (provided they, too, have FDX – and an Internet connection, let’s be real) in real-time on your co-project. And it’s easily one million times simpler to use than CollaboWrite was. You click the Collaboration button, enter your name and select from a dropdown menu the script you want to work on. You’re given a Collaboration Session Number which you share with your chosen collaborators, and BOOM. Done.

One can hear that disembodied spruiker again. “It’s Just that simple!”

Of course, the host is the only one who can edit the script. But control of the script can be passed from collaborator to collaborator. And there’s a little chat window for you all to communicate through as well. I can’t wait until some of my friends upgrade to FDX to really give this feature a workout.

Alternate Dialogue allows you to store alternate lines in the screenplay file, and to toggle back and forth between them. This is something I didn’t think I’d use particularly often, but even in just test driving this version, writing a short scene between three people, I found myself thinking, “Should she be angry or dismissive?” “Maybe ‘Frittata’ is a funnier word, here,” or, the ever-popular, “I don’t think he’d say that.” This feature frees you, not only from halting the creative process to rewrite your dialogue mid-scene, but allows you to store thoughts and explore them later, rather than sitting there three hours later, going, “What was that line…?”

They’ve spiffed up the ribbon a little bit, but don’t let that scare you. All the classic features are still there, and it’s still just as easy to use as ever. In the end, Final Draft 10 still offers all the intuitive features that have made it the industry standard. Short of AI, I don’t know what else they could add to make it any better. (Well, maybe a cork board skin for the Beat Board…)

But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself with this FREE TRIAL of Final Draft 10!

Tutorials on features mentioned herein can be found online at http://learnmore.finaldraft.com/

Final Draft 10 is available for Mac and Windows

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