It is extremely rare for me to ever write a review for a product. However, I have become so infatuated with Adobe Story that I feel like I owe it to them to help spread the word of this fantastic product. Right off the bat I’ll admit, I am an Adobe whore. I use their Creative Suite for everything that I do. I started with Photoshop 6 and from that point on I continued to upgrade into their CS products. Most recently I have obtained the glory that is CS5.5, for the most part everything in this suite is an upgrade but I would like to point out that Audition 5.5 is fantastic. Adobe took an excellent and stable audio editing software and streamlined it to be an even balance between user friendly and professional sound desginer. This post isn’t about Audition, but I feel like I should mention to everyone familiar with Cool Edit/Audition 3.0 that 5.5 is worth checking out.
Along with CS5.5, I was given this particular software that was unfamiliar to me, Adobe Story. Adobe Story is a script writing and production organizational tool and it’s the first of its kind to be offered by Adobe who is more known for their multimedia endeavors. Story is a CS Live software which means that it is an online product that can be utilized from your internet browser. Essentially it’s like “working on the cloud”…for the record I am not really all for putting all my information on the internet and ignoring the safety and security of an actual external harddrive. But for Story, I really like how easy it is for me to work on a project/script while moving from location to location.
Prior to using Story, I just used Word to write out scripts. I’m a Prose writer, which generally means I write novels. So when it came to scripting I was very new to it and didn’t know how to properly go about it. I first began script writing when I started developing the Shattered Heaven animated series. The scripts I began writing were simple and in no way could any of them be considered a “true” script. They were just lines of dialog with some descriptions thrown in between them, mainly notes for myself when I would begin animating. When I decided to start developing a direct to DVD animated feature film for Shattered Heaven I realized that I should make the script as professional as I possibly could. I noticed Adobe Story on the bottom of my desktop and figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a shot.
The setup’s pretty simple and straight forward. When you first open up you are presented with a home screen that will show in an outline form the projects you have and everything related to them. For example, I have a single script for this movie, a document for my cast, a synopsis document and a character bio page. You can make as many documents as you want and they all can be exported to a .doc, .pdf and more.
When working with the script, Adobe Story has preformatted tags such as Scene Heading, Action, Character, Dialog and more. When you tag what you are currently writing Story will automatically place it in the proper format. By tagging everything you write it will help you review the production as a whole later on. In the below picture I have the “Outline” tab open on the left which shows every scene in the script in the order I’ve written them. From there I can double click on any scene and I’ll be taken there instantly. It may seem remedial, but having the ability to go directly to a particular scene without having to scroll is fantastic.
Something that I discovered last night that will really help me out in the Post Production part is the “Breakdown Reports”. Adobe Story will automatically export information such as Character lines, the number of lines each individual character has, the number of scenes they appear in and more from the script and the tags you’ve applied. This is extremely beneficial to Voice Over work that requires the producer to know how many lines a particular VO is responsible for. Each report is exported in a .csv format (Excel) for easy access and editing.
Perhaps my favorite feature of Adobe Story is it’s sharing capabilities. Being an online product you are able to share your documents with other people involved in your productions. Whether it’s for editors or just letting your cast see the script in progress, you are able to specifiy who is able to see the script and if they are able to edit it or just read it. You simply click on the document you want to share and a window will pop up asking for an email address. The people you decide to share the document with will need a CS Live account which is free to set up. From here you will be able to designate their role in the production. This is something that I find highly valuable in productions that have multiple people editing and reviewing. It saves time from having to send attachments to people through emails and being an online program you’re able to access it from anywhere with internet access on any computer.
While Adobe Story’s strong points are in its online capabilities, a desktop version can be downloaded to your computer from where you can work in both offline and online mode. Any changes made in the online mode will replace any older versions you have saved from being in offline mode.
Overall, Adobe Story is an extremely helpful product for anyone serious about producing scripts for movies, television, animations, radioplays, etc. It is currently complimentary until April of 2012 and I highly recommend anyone check it out in the mean time. Truth be told, I feel like this product and it’s versatile services are worth a subscription and when the complimentary trial is over I will be subscribing to it. Though it is unknown if the subscription will be for the online services only, thus allowing you to continue using the desktop version offline, only time will tell.