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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Celtx - A Second Look

I've used a couple of screenplay formatting programs since I started this whole writing thing. Starting out with Scriptware way back when and then succumbing to peer pressure by switching to the widely industry endorsed favorite, Final Draft. Both are alright for what they do. Scriptware has nonexistent support and hasn't had an update since 1997, useless. Final Draft can be really frustrating and not very intuitive. Enter Celtx.

I found out about Celtx when John August did a review back in February 2005. An update was released recently so I thought I would take a second look. This FREE open source pre-production tool is actually pretty unique. I know Sophocles takes a similar approach to the interface of screenplay formatting and development design but they don't have a Mac version so...Screenplay formatting is really just Word for screenwriters. You can tab up any text editor and there you go, write your masterpiece. What Celtx has is development tools. If you are anything like me and suffer from the occasional bout with AADD you need your project materials in one place not scattered all over a room, tucked away in drawers, written on little scraps of paper. Celtx organizes your thought flow for your project by way of different tabs.
The character tab allows the user to fill in character traits and background info so you never lose track of who you are writing about. It also does the same for scene details by forcing you to answer important questions like how does this event affect the overall plot? or what is the goal of the protagonist in this scene?.

Regarding importing screenplays from another format, gotta convert to .txt files to get them into Celtx. I did a test and except for some minor editing, it formatted correctly. When you are all done with the screenplay you can create reports for actual production. Collaboration online is also an available feature. Celtx allows you to upload your screenplay online to collaborate with other writers on your team. I would only be using the offline features more than anything and don't think I'll be switching mid-project but I'll give it a chance on my next one. Celtx is very easy to use and I think it's worth a look if you haven't already.

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