Strikes the perfect balance between pro features and usability. By no means will it replace the desktop version but, should the need arise, Final Draft Writer provides just the right tools to create an entire script from start to finish.
Final Draft Writer Review
by on October 11, 2012
Seven months after the release of the passive Final Draft Reader script viewer, the app that tech-savvy screenwriters across the globe would give their second Emmy for has become a reality. Final Draft Writer, however, is seemingly casting a wider net than solely targeting the traditional hack.
At more than a hundred pounds cheaper than Final Draft 8 for Mac and PC, Final Draft Writer offers wannabe Sorkins a unique chance to access some of the features used by professional screenwriters on a daily basis and at a price they can afford. Yet, for those on the other side of the red carpet, enough of the tools from the desktop powerhouse have been included to make the app a viable option for the travelling scribe.
Writing a script of any kind is a fiddly business. Frustratingly, for a creative medium where flow and rhythm are essential, accurate formatting is also important. Preventing styling issues from getting in the way of a writer’s train of thought is where Final Draft has earned its accolades over the years and, impressively, those same timesaving features, known as ‘SmartType, are included in Final Draft Writer.
For those unfamiliar with such tricks, Final Draft Writer’s automatic format switching can feel like the app is reading your mind at times, selecting the style it thinks you need at different points in your script. For example, once you type a character’s name and tap return, the app naturally assumes you’ll want to write dialogue for that character next and so switches the format. It even memorises your character names and locations, allowing you to choose them from a list rather than type them out in full each time. Similarly, if scene directions break up dialogue, a parenthetical (Cont’d) is automatically added below the next line.
Those witnessing SmartType for the first time will certainly be impressed, but there are still features to make even the most jaded of wordsmiths smile. Character highlighting, highlighted script revisions, ScriptNotes and many more advanced features are all present in Final Draft Writer, suddenly making the iPad an ideal tool for table reads or work on location, with the added ability over Final Draft Reader to edit and make notes on the fly.
With a limited set of templates available, two for film and stage work and two for TV, Final Draft Writer might not be where a professional script begins, but the addition of Dropbox support provides a simple route to importing scripts from the desktop. The real shame is its poor implementation. Rather than being forced to launch the Dropbox app in order to open Final Draft files (as is currently the case), it would be far slicker to be able to locate them within the app itself. And, with the Dropbox security snafus still in recent memory and Apple’s new syncing service gaining momentum, it seems odd that iCloud integration wasn’t built in as well. Exporting files from Final Draft Writer to Dropbox is also possible as is the ability to email or wirelessly print scripts with AirPrint.
Another pro feature sees automatically generated reports, such as the number of locations or scenes, attached to emails along with the script file. Reports for individual cast members list how many times they speak, how many words they say and in what scenes they say them, for example.
Once a script from the desktop is opened in Final Draft Writer (you can also import from Mail and iTunes File Sharing) the experience of writing and editing is simple, easy to learn and reminiscent enough of the desktop version to keep the pros feeling comfortable. Scripts appear exactly as they would on the desktop, and the inclusion of a shortcut bar above the virtual keyboard that allows for quick format changes arguably improves on the floating shortcut window in Final Draft 8. A scroll bar to the right of the interface offers quick access to specific pages or scenes by simply dragging it until the section you are after is listed. For larger scripts, however, we did find that the scrolling became a little sluggish.
While other inexpensive scriptwriting apps for iPad exist, the Final Draft brand adds a certain weight, not least due the fact that so many big guns in the film and TV industry actually use it. A purchase for them should be a no brainer, but those looking to get started in scriptwriting would be well served cutting their teeth on this industry standard software, albeit a slightly diluted version.
Download this app: Final Draft Writer for iPad
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Review courtesy of Tap!