Showbiz Software

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Showbiz software has helped lead the digital revolution in film, television, music, and video. While most productions still depend on actors, cameras, lights, and props, they also turn to various forms of showbiz software to help in the process. In just the last few years, major improvements to this software have made writers, directors, editors, and producers increasingly dependent upon it throughout every step of production.

In order to appreciate the strides that have been made in showbiz software, it's instructive to look at classical modes of production. In the days before computers, every element of a show, from its budgeting to its editing, was done strictly by hand. Moreover, in the days before word processors, scripts themselves were typed and often supplemented with handwritten additions.

The Development of Showbiz Software

A short time after personal computers hit the mainstream, the first showbiz software began to appear on the shelves of computer stores. Naturally, these tools had limited application for the typical non-industry computer user. But for aspiring Hollywood honchos, these programs enabled easier script breakdowns, "one-liners," and other production documents.

Gradually, as the Internet evolved, these tools became more and more interactive. Nowadays, it's not uncommon for some web-based software to call on other databases such as those maintained by theatrical guilds, film commissions, and payroll companies. All of this has led to more efficient and highly streamlined production methods that allow more movies, shows, and albums to be made even faster. That, of course, says nothing about their quality.

Other Varieties of Showbiz Software

Check out your online software retailer today, and you'll find automated systems for all sorts of things you'd never imagined, many of which, some would argue, shouldn't require the help of a computer. Some screenwriting software, for instance, is programmed to help struggling or blocked writers develop new ideas for their scripts. These programs take the data you enter about your characters' traits and needs, then use a complex algorithm to generate new possibilities. Maybe that explains why so many movies and TV shows these days seem to paint by the numbers.

Then there are pieces of showbiz software that truly exploit the best of today's technology. Storyboard artists, for example, can use products such as Frame Forge to compose their boards in 3-D. Whether it's characters, buildings, furniture, or cars that need to be situated, Frame Forge and other storyboard software products can capture them at any angle and combine them in infinite ways. There's no longer a need to keep an expensive storyboard artist on hand throughout an entire production.

Music Showbiz Software

The advance of digital technology has also enabled new modes for composing, recording, packaging, and selling music. While this particular form of showbiz software--at least in its studio grade--is pricey, it makes it possible nonetheless for independent artists to lay down their own tracks, mix them, dub in effects, and output to CD, WAV file, or any other medium. The result is a "democratized" industry that allows anyone with an idea, the requisite talent, and the production know-how to make it big.

For all its advances, though, showbiz software isn't without its critics. There are those who believe great programs help lesser talents get ahead of the pack simply by buying their way there. Then there are critics--generally "purists"--who decry the further mechanization of art. Whatever the case may be, it's unlikely the trend toward more robust and powerful programs will reverse itself any time soon, which means showbiz software is here to stay.

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