Final Draft 8 Review

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If you’ve ever harbored the desire to write for the silver screen and tried to do something about it, you’ll already know about Final Draft, the showbiz industry’s favorite scriptwriting software.

Everyone in Hollywood uses it; Studio Execs, beleaguered Producers, hot-shot directors… even Michael Bay uses it, but don’t let that last one put you off. If you use Final Draft, you’ll be in the company of James Cameron, Guillermo del Toro and Richard Donner. JJ Abrams is quoted saying, “Even if you don’t own a computer, I recommend buying Final Draft.”

The company behind Final Draft — also called Final Draft — has crammed an impressive array of tools and functionality into version eight. In fact, there’s so much functionality that for novice users it can seem daunting getting to grips with it.

The good news is that it’s really quite easy to get started with Final Draft, particularly if you have some idea of how movie or TV scripts are constructed. And even if you don’t, Final Draft makes the learning process so smooth it’s really just part of your work flow. The software keeps your work in order, properly formatted, properly structured, yet never gets “in the way.”

A typical script workspace

There is a mountain of goodness packed into this release. So much, in fact, it’s beyond the scope of this review, but here’s a quick rundown of the highlights.

Templates

If you’re unsure of how to structure your script, you can use one of over 50 television and movie templates bundled with the application. There are dozens more available on the Final Draft website, too, though the assumption is that you are a naughty software thief so you must provide a valid customer number before you can download them.

Templates comes in lots of flavours, including movie scripts...

Templates come in many of flavors, including movie scripts...

...TV shows...

...TV shows...

...Graphic Novels...

...Graphic Novels...

...and even good old fashioned manuscripts.

...and even good old fashioned manuscripts.

Smart Element Formatting

The single greatest feature in Final Draft is its intelligent and intuitive element formatting. The software watches what you type and anticipates what you are doing next. With only the tiniest bit of learning, you’ll find yourself zooming through scripts faster than Stephen King can knock-out novels.

Smart Elements pop-up works a lot like IntelliType

Smart Elements pop-up works a lot like IntelliType

Speech

Final Draft lets you assign the Mac OS X system voices to the characters in your script, and have them read-aloud. Ask any writer — there is enormous value in hearing another voice read your dialogue back at you!

Choose which character gets which voice...

Choose which character gets which voice...

...then hit play!

...then hit play!

Scene Tools

Brand new Scene Navigator and Scene View tools provide handy ways to view, structure and manage your script without scrolling through a hundred or so pages every time you need to check scene order, or remind yourself exactly when it was your characters fell into that trash compacter… Was it before or after your hero blasted the controls to extend the bridge?

Scene Navigator

Scene view

Scene properties

File Format

A new file XML-based file format improves compatibility with modern productivity software and other script-writing tools.

And more…

Also packed-in to version eight is improved page formatting and counting, workspace management, powerful production features for preparing a finished script for distribution or revision, a neat new toolbar and an apology from Final Draft for selling a copy to Michael Bay. (OK, that last one is a lie. But if you’ve cringed at the dialogue in Tranformers, you know that man owes us all. Big time.)

Just as a professional graphic artist can’t get far without learning Photoshop, anyone who’s serious about screenwriting should have a copy of Final Draft.

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