Movie Draft Software, 02/02/12 01:58
So what is the difference between Movie Draft, Final Draft and Microsoft Word...?
Screenplay software, scriptwriting software, screenwriting programs, screenplay programs or scriptwriting programs. Call them what you like. They have many different names but ultimately endeavour to fulfil the same common task - to help you write a screenplay. Or at least, they should.
So why can't I just use Microsoft Word?
Well you can, to an extent, and that's exactly what most people use - and put up with. It may surprise you that Microsoft Word is the most popular tool for writing screenplays on the planet. Not because it's the best (unfortunately), but simply because most people already have it installed on their computer. But that's just not good enough. You deserve better. You've seen the cosmetics adverts: you're worth it!
At the time of writing, the de facto "standard" for writing screenplays is a product called Final Draft - you may have heard of it. Now it would be quite churlish of me as a competitor to provide a negative review against Final Draft, so I'll leave that bit for you to research for yourself. Suffice to say that if you strip out all of the screenplay formatting features from Final Draft you're left with something which resembles (and quite closely, I may add) Microsoft Word.
Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing. People like MS Word. They're familiar with it, so it naturally follows that Final Draft will be equally familiar to them, and perhaps that's why it was designed that way. However, there's a reason why movies today are no longer edited by men in dark rooms with reams and reams of 35mm film, and it's the same reason Microsoft Word (or its derivatives) just don't cut it (no pun intended) for screenwriting any more: non-linear editing.
The non-linear perspective
The computer has brought us many things, but to the film editing industry specifically it brought us the non-linear editor.
Simply put, a non-linear editor is something which allows you to work on a film in any order you see fit. Want to cut the ending first? No problem. Want to move things around to see if scene 42 works better before scene 18? Sure. Give me 3.6 seconds to move my hand from my goatee to the mouse. Done. That's in stark contrast to the traditional linear method of editing where you start at the beginning and slowly work your way to the end - as you do when writing in Microsoft Word... or Final Draft.
The magic button
Movie Draft on the other hand allows you to write your script in a non-linear fashion. Our brains don't function linearly, our thought processes are seemingly random and quite disjointed, so why should we force ourselves to work in an environment that is created otherwise?
There's a button in Movie Draft called Single Scene mode. Pressing that button shows the current scene in the editor and just that scene. Nothing else. That allows you to:
1. Focus just on the scene at hand
2. Write any scene in any order
3. Not worry about staring at 100 blank pages in a word processor.
So for all the similarities between screenplay programs - i.e. they can all format your script correctly etc - in my opinion the main difference between Movie Draft and Final Draft and MS Word is the fact that it allows you to work in the way you think - non-linearly.
But of course, I am biased.
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