Thursday, June 10, 2010

Celtx may or may not be right for you

If you're in the market for both screenwriting and pre-production organization software, don't waste time and cash getting two separate programs. First, try out Celtx, an open-source software program  that we discovered and thought would be a great resource for filmmakers, particularly amateur and low-budget filmmakers.

Celtx is free to download and--for the most part--free to operate. The software includes: screenwriting software; pre-visaualization tools for storyboarding and set diagrams; productivity tools to keep you on schedule as you plan and shoot; access to Celtx forums where you can publish your work and get feedback and peer reviews from other Celtx users.  (Click here to read more)

You might remember that free "for the most part" bit. The only service that Celtx provides with an associated cost is "Celtx Studios."

Celtx Studios allows for collaboration between colleagues, workflow management and storage tools. It's an opt-in service and regardless the scale of your projects, it's very affordable. The charge is $1 per person, per month, with a minimum of 5 collaborators. So, if you have a crew of 6 that will be working with you one month, the cost will be $5.99. If you have a crew of 25 working with you the next month, the cost is $24.99. (Scroll down for a list of all the tools you and your crew will have access to.) That's a pretty good deal.

Are there any disadvantages to using this pocket-light option? Well, it's not as refined as Final Draft and may have a bit of learning curve, especially for someone new to screenwriting. There's a Help Page on the Celtx Wiki, but it's not as comprehensive and set-in-stone as the Final Draft User Guide.

One member of the FAVES Writers Group has been using Celtx for screenwriting, but so far, he's spent more time researching how the features of basic scriptwriting using this software package work (moving from element to element for example) than he's spent writing.

Still, Celtx costs $249.00 less than a brand new copy of Final Draft.

Our writer's experience aside, if you want to start working on the next "Great American" film, but don't have much of a budget, Celtx can be a great asset--especially if you're a quick study. Take your pet project from a seed of a thought, to a fleshed-out script, to a storyboarded and scheduled shot--the goal of any filmmaker.

Here are features and functionality below as they are laid out on the Celtx Website (be sure to check out their videos to see how this free software package works):

Writing Tools

  • Story Development forms
  • Script Formats
    • Screenplay
    • Stageplay
    • AV (audio/video for commercial shoots) script
    • Audio Play
    • Comic Book
    • Pain Text
  • Text Lock
  • Revision Mode
  • Adapt To
  • TypeSet/PDF
  • Index Cards
  • Template Engine
Pre-Visualization Tools

  • Storyboarding
  • Sketch Tool
  • Media Rich Breakdowns
Productivity Tools

  • Catalogs
  • External Documents
  • Scheduling, Call Sheets and Shooting Reports
  • Inter-Project Document Management
  • Toolbox
Publishing Tools
  • Celtx Forums
Celtx Studios (premium services)
  • Share projects quickly and easily with others through your Celtx Studio.
  • (New!) Chat with other Studio members and determine at a glance who is online/offline.
  • Checkout projects for one-at-a-time editing and avoid unintended overwrites and duplicated effort.
  • Store every project, every version, and every file. Keep full histories of all your work.
  • Quickly compare versions and determine who made the most recent revisions.
  • Privately preview projects on the web for your team and producers and financiers.
  • Personalize your studio with logos and backgrounds.
Check out the Celtx Website here.

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