Final Draft 8 Inverness

Final Draft 8 is the latest release of the market leading screenwriting software. Film, radio and television scripts have industry standard layouts. Elements such as character names, dialogue and action have specific margin and capitalisation rules that differ from medium to medium.

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Final Draft 8

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Final Draft 8 is the latest release of the market leading screenwriting software. Film, radio and television scripts have industry standard layouts. Elements such as character names, dialogue and action have specific margin and capitalisation rules that differ from medium to medium. While formatting a script correctly is no guarantee of success, formatting it incorrectly is a red flag to any seasoned script reader that screams amateur.

Screenwriting software is primarily a glorified word processor to take the woes and labour out of these niche formatting needs. Separate software for this task may seem like overkill. However, anyone who has attempted to manually format a screenplay with Word will instantly understand its worth.

Most users of screenwriting software are amateurs, with only a small fraction working as professionals in the entertainment industry. While Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter are arguably the tools of choice for professionals, there are now plenty of other cheaper options. Dabblers in the medium should check out Montage, Scrivener, Movie Outline, and even online suites such as ScriptBuddy (scriptbuddy.com) and Scripped (scripped.com).

Like the majority of its competitors, Final Draft uses a 'Tab and Enter' method of text entry. Pressing the Tab key switches between elements, such as character name, action or dialogue, and once written, pressing Return moves to the next element. The technique is simple, speedy and intuitive. As character names and locations also auto complete, the only thing slowing down the writing is the user's dedication. Final Draft even offers a performance tool to monitor that too, so there really is no escaping any shortfalls in your productivity.

Final Draft 8 offers an improved interface. Our grumble about version 7's detached toolbar has been rectified and the application now has a far more 'Mac OS X' feel. Sadly, though, it doesn't enjoy Screenwriter's automatic text resizing, so you will still have to select a text zoom option, even when you have resized the main interface window.

One of the key selling points of Final Draft is its ability to split the interface into two panes horizontally or vertically. This means the script can be open in one pane and any of the other tools, such as Scene view, Index or Cards, can be open in the other. Cleverly, you can even opt to have the script open at different points in both panes at the same time. The dual-pane interface was present in version 7, though, and version 8 even fails to add the ability to view consecutive pages of the script in the split panels. So what is version 8 actually bringing to the table?

New features are actually rather thin on the ground. Besides saving the workspace on exit and offering the ability to cheat on page length (to help with the professional guideline that one page of script will equal roughly one minute of screen time), the only other really useful addition is 'Scene view'. This view, also found in Movie Magic's Screenwriter 6, enables you to see a summary of each scene within the script listed in one pane of the interface. Scenes can be colour coded for organisation, and re-ordered by dragging and dropping. Double-clicking a scene in Scene view displays the relevant scene in the opposing pane. It's a handy way to restructure story elements, but it falls a little short of Screenwriter's implementation that allows greater control over the content shown in the overview panel.

One feature we'd like to see in Final Draft is a 'distraction free' mode. Here, the background and toolbars are faded leaving just the page on-screen. As so much of a screenplay layout is dictated by the medium, the toolbars are often untouched for hours at a time. Why see them? As cheaper Mac OS X-only tools such as Scrivener and Montage both include such a feature, it seems an oversight that Final Draft 8 doesn't. Final Draft advised this was to ensure identical functionality for both Windows and Mac (both versions are included for the price).

For amateur screenwriters, looking for an effective formatting solution, it's hard to recommend Final Draft 8. There are now a multitude of cheaper alternatives that provide 90% of what this offers. For existing users, while the upgrade fee (£59) is reasonable, there are sadly few compelling features to warrant the upgrade.

Author: Ben Frain

Final Draft 8