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Thursday, April 08, 2010

After my little issue with Final Draft 7 and the Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard installer, the Final Draft people were kind enough to send me a review copy of Final Draft 8.

FD8 isn't a spectacular leap forward over FD7; there just isn't that much more you can do in a script formatting program. Mostly they have made improvements to all the bells and whistles.

For example, they have improved their very useful ScriptCompare tool. If you have two scripts, ScriptCompare will mark the changes between one and the other -- very handy if people have been making changes without using Revision mode. FD8 does a better job of recognizing when you've only changed a word or two, rather than marking the whole sentence as changed.

They've improved FD's ability to work with index cards. You can turn your beat sheet into index cards, move them around, tweak them, and then put them back into script format in the new order. You can also color your index cards to help you track your A, B and C stories.

FD8 stores its scripts in a new file format (.fdx instead of .fdr). The .fdr format was opaque to Mac's Spotlight universal text finder; the .fdx format is transparent, so you can use Spotlight to find the script where you used the phrase "rabbit stewardess" if you so desire.

Script Navigator is now Scene Navigator, and you can keep your scene list open while you write pages, rather than having to go back and forth between your beat sheet and pages.

And, there's a nifty new feature that lets you cheat your page count globally or locally.

Overall, there's no new "killer app." But there are some very nice improvements to a program that I continue to find user-friendly.

I have heard many people say nice things about Movie Magic Screenwriter, and I expect it integrates better with Movie Magic Scheduling and Movie Magic Budgeting. If you're on a production, that might be important. I'll let you know if I ever change over.

In the mean time, you can buy Final Draft here:

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"Scene View" is the feature that really stands out between FD8 and FD7. I love being able to slap colors on different storylines and then track them in a sidebar next to my script. Being able to drag and drop scenes in this interface really lets me do some decent outlining in FD, too.

Still upset about the lack of two page display, though. Word's been doing it since the last century. Literally.

By Blogger The Spec Life, at 2:24 PM  

Having recently purchased my first Mac, I bought FD8 to try it out. Thanks for the review. Am looking for some time to take a run at the program. I am very computer-challenged.

By Blogger deborah Nathan, at 8:05 AM  

You'd expect they would have ironed out all the software issues they've been having with earlier versions, but no.

I own FD6 and FD8 and still continue to run into bugs and incompatability issues.

Plus, the fact that the files are so-called platform-independent is a myth.

My Mac clients have problems with files I send them and vice versa.

For a market leader, all the above is just unbelievable.

"Still upset about the lack of two page display, though." Completely agree with you Whit. Or a no-distractions full-screen display.

By Blogger Karel, at 9:27 AM  

I'm not a big fan of FD, although I have 8, I only use it for uploading to clients. I work exclusively in MM Screenwriter#6.

Also as a screenwriting professor at NYU, I have found that the FREE Celtx software is really more than adequate(especially with this price incentive).

So for those who think young, I say MM SW6 is the way to go. The "Outlining" features, the note boxes, both of which can be infinitely colored and customized have been an amazing tool for my writing and clerical organization. The scene list in the left window runs all the time and can be adjusted to show anything you want.

Also the tech helpline is excellent. It's a small company, so I literally have a personal consultant at the other end of the phone who is on a first-name basis with me.

But finally, it's really what your comfortable with.

Joe in Brooklyn

By Blogger Unknown, at 3:16 PM  

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