May 23, 2008

Cool Tools: Celtx

Screenwriting is a part of the filmmaking process that doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Screenwriting ensures that a story is put together with the correct doses of structure and style, that characters appear as three-dimensional beings, and that a plot comes to a logical conclusion. Screenwriting programs such as Final Cut Pro and Movie Magic has helped writers complete their scripts but at a costly price. Now there is Celtx, a free screenwriting program which carries nearly all the weight of its costly competitors.

Celtx allows users to write and format screenplays to meet submission standards set by the theater and film industries. With it’s plethora of features and dedication to the field of scriptwriting, don’t you dare call it a word processor. It’s put together by the same people behind Mozilla, it carries a similar interface, and it’s just as good a product as Firefox is.

The software comes with a number of templates. Upon opening the program you are prompted to select from film, audio-visual, theatre, audio play, storyboard, and text templates. Most commonly you’ll be using film but it’s nice to know that these other options exist. In addition to the standard scriptwriting templates there are a number of other features such as a production calendar, storyboarding capabilities, and elements that can be tagged to the project. These tagged elements serve as notes that can be embedded in your screenplay. For example, you can attach a sketch to a character’s name.

One area where Celtx thrives even more than its pricier competitors is in its collaboration tools. There is something called Project Central which allows users to upload scripts to a central server and then collaborate on them with other users of the software. Collaboration can be open to the public or open only to users that the writer selects.

As someone who spent over $200 to purchase Final Cut Pro a few years ago, I can truly say that I wish Celtx had been around. It is a great competitor to the expensive software programs and with the price difference being what it is, I’d say go for Celtx.