Film Production Software

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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In just the past decade or so, the movie industry has witnessed a boom in film production software. Prior to that, there were still writing, storyboarding, budgeting, accounting, and editing programs available--many of them very good--but nothing akin to the huge selection now on the market. An independent producer or film company could oversee practically every dimension of production without using a single pen or sheet of scrap paper.

Films almost always begin as concepts in the minds of writers, adaptations from other media notwithstanding. Even the process of adapting a 700-page novel into a 120-page screenplay can be a chore, however, and there are screenwriting software products that address this. These programs are designed to distill story ideas, juggle and assess character traits, suggest possible plot twists and even lines of dialogue!

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Once the script's been written, these same programs allow producers and writers to make changes to extant drafts, print new pages in different colors (to distinguish them from prior versions), and weed out entire scenes and sequences. Some of these tools also communicate with other programs such as budgeting software and scheduling templates so that information may be zapped back and forth as it's updated. If there's any one "constant" on a movie set, that constant is change, so a film production software suite has to be able to keep up.

One of the last pieces of film production software to be used on a given show is a non-linear editing system. AVID and rival products let editors digitize film and video, piece scenes together, add sound and effects, and do a variety of other stunning tasks. Of all the showbiz software on the market, these editing systems are among the costliest. But compared with the price in time and tedium of cutting film strips and manually gluing them together, this can be a bargain.


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