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Short review: Celtx, script writing software

5 February 2010

Celtx is a free media pre-production software package. I was looking for a text editor that understood movie script formatting, and Celtx certainly does that. The Windows and Mac versions of Celtx work seamlessly together. I started my current project on Windows and am continuing on the Mac.

Those familiar with a word processor should feel right at home with Celtx. Switching between scene headings, exposition, character slugs, wrylies, and dialogue is deftly handled through tabbing and line breaks. Each scene and character introduced is added to the Master Storyboard section, a central repository for information about the story element, including the capability to store images and the like, though I have not used it for such yet.

While writing in Celtx is easy, I would request some features for editing. Sometimes I struggle with getting a particular element in the right category. It is easy to an element’s type with a dropdown, however this combined with the automatic addition of scenes and characters to the Master Storyboard can be trying. I would like the ability to scan the Master Storyboard and have Celtx prompt me to delete any elements that no longer exist in the script.

Being a programmer whose used to working with source code refactoring tools, I’d also like some “refactoring” tools in Celtx. For example, I’d like the capability of intelligently renaming a character, one that paid attention to casing, or even change the character’s gender. I’d also like the ability to rename a scene location. Going further, I could even imagine some style rules engine, maybe offering to capitalize sound verbs in some script styles.

Celtx does offer some reporting, such as showing all of the dialog. And its PDF rendering is nice. It would be nice if it showed what page number you would be on, though, as I find for pacing purposes, I’m often invoking the PDF rendition just to determine what page a particular scene is on.

For free, it suits my needs admirably, and I think their Celtx Studios online tools look intriguing. Having said that, Celtx has greater potential. I look forward to seeing the product grow.

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