Jul 07

Final Draft 7 reviewed by MC Rebbe The Rapping Rabbi in The TechnofileBeing Jewish I like to find things to complain about, but for once I’m struggling…in fact, every time I think I’ve spotted something that Final Draft 7 could or should do, I read a little further through the manual and discover that it can and does…which probably explains why it’s the world’s best selling script/play writing/formatting software…

In essence, Final Draft 7 is a powerful word processor with a bunch of pre-defined industry standard templates covering movie scripts, stage plays, sitcoms and episodic television drama. Open the appropriate template and, using just the ‘tab’ and ‘enter’ keys to move between pre-formatted script ‘elements’ such as dialogue, character names and scene headings…“just add words”… as the manufacturer’s catchphrase goes.

Designed for Windows XP and Mac OS X, Final Draft has a clean, clear, modern interface that displays most of the information you need at a glance. You can split the screen horizontally or vertically to display your choice of script(s), index cards and the ‘navigator’ (an automatically generated scene list) in the resultant ‘panels’ and fully customizable toolbars allow most functions to be accessed at the click of an icon.

These features score big in my book (The Torah) because they place you in control, allowing you to make Final Draft work the way that suits you best…instead of vice versa… and giving you an easy visual alternative to learning the multitude of keystroke combination ‘shortcuts’ required by other similar apps, freeing you up to concentrate on writing…in other words…you really can just add words…

Naturally FD7 includes everything you would expect from a scriptwriting/formatting package including a 120,000 word spell checker, thesaurus, automatic handling of ‘mores’ and ‘continueds, a cover page designer, export of your scripts as a PDF/ to Avid/ as XML (for FCP5 users), ‘collaborwiter’ (which allows you to write scripts collaboratively, via the net), a text to speech reader (that allows you to select and preview different voices and change their pitch and speed) and powerful production features for generating reports, locking and revising your script once it’s in production. There’s also a separate utility, ‘Final Draft Tagger’, which allows you to ‘tag’ script elements then export them into any movie scheduling software…and if you don’t know what tagging is, keep writing and maybe one day you’ll get to find out…

Additional features that place it head and shoulders above the competition include: Customizable headers and footers, a format assistant (which functions like a spell checker and is used to check for formatting errors), script notes (pop up windows containing ideas, suggestions, text fragments etc., that can be placed anywhere in a script and printed separately from it), bookmarks (which work like anchors on an HTML page) and a database of 90,000 names (for help with naming your characters).

But for anyone based in The UK…or with trans-Atlantic aspirations…there are two killer features. Firstly, of the numerous TV templates that FD7 ships with (most of which are for shows that are currently in production…refreshingly), there’s a fair selection of popular British soaps and dramas and secondly, you can install a ‘British’ English dictionary in addition to the ‘American’…or as it’s known locally…‘bad’ English dictionary, making it a ‘must have’ for anyone writing for both the British and American markets. Of course, as with other such programs, you can create your own templates (and even macros), but as things stand, Final Draft 7 is the only out of the box solution for British TV writers…and an excellent solution it is too. But don’t take my word for it, celebrity endorsees include James Brooks of ‘The Simpsons’ fame…which probably means that this was the software used to rip off part of my act…’nuff said…

Final Draft 7 reviewed by MC Rebbe The Rapping Rabbi in The Technofile

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