I really wouldn't know. About the price. It is definitely a definition that depends on a whole lot of factors, from the market & competitors to the features it offers and so on.
I'm really interested in knowing at least the very approximate month or part of the year or something like that, but I'm guessing it will be somewhere in 2010. I hope I'm wrong, but that's how it seems.
I know you have some bugs/issues to solve and that it all really depends, but a very approximate date would do just fine.
$40 is I guess OK, but I kind of feel awkward putting the price on it. There are so many factors I don't know about which determine it.
But I can almost bet it will be between FD and MMS as far as price goes.
Also, if this becomes a browser-based stand-alone application, I most certainly won't look into it.
Well, as far as pricing goes, the two top-shelf screenwriting clients out there are Final Draft and Screenwriter, both of which retail at $250.
And as far as I'm concerned, with such slow updating, absolutely zero interest in their customer base and arbitrary updates with little to no new functionality, that's highway robbery.
Meanwhile, Scrivener, which for anyone on a Mac widely uses, is about $40. To me, that seems reasonable.
New writers generally don't want to pirate their writing software, but with Celtx being hit-and-miss with what people want, and Scrivener only for the Mac, the options for writing scripts that are in line with industry standards are very limited, and incredibly expensive when you're just starting out.
When you think about it, a price point of about $60 is very reasonable. It's the cost of your average top-shelf video game.
Not to mention that the price point is enough for a lot of Windows users to bail out on Final Draft and Screenwriter; why pay $250 when you can pay a fraction of that, and still be able to export directly to .fdx and PDFs? And that it's built by Adobe will provide people with the confidence that it's not fly-by-night and a waste of their money; updates will certainly be true updates.
Honestly, I can't tell much difference between FD7 and FD8, aside from adding things that should've been in place 5 years ago.
A positive for the price point is attracting new writers, many of whom will eventually become working writers. On a long enough timeline, if you choose a price point that will appeal to these younger writers, that "catch them early" tactic will pay huge dividends in the future, when the new crop of writers start coming up and ask the working writers what software they use.
These days, Final Draft and Screenwriter are industry standard because a) they're the only games in town, and b) they're the only ones who "just work," and scripts will always conform to what a script is supposed to look like.
I think when Adobe enters the market, within a year Final Draft and Screenwriter are going to lose a big portion of their marketshare - IF Adobe has the right price point for when they do enter the market.
I feel that the price of a video game is very fair, both to the consumer and to the company. Let's face it, we're also paying for the brand, paying for the knowledge that when updates come in, they will be substantial, significant, and helpful. So $60, to me, is a price that I and most anyone would pay. If you're willing to pay $60 for Assassin's Creed 2 but not that for something that is supposed to help you in your career, then you really weren't all that dedicated a writer.
I am really surprised that Adobe has to think about the price-point for Adobe Story. I cannot think of anything other than $0. Going by the price of Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter would be a big mistake. They are dinosaurs that belong to the pre-open source revolution and will eventually be gone. For those of you who are still using those stone-age tools, please take a look at Celtx. It follows the Google principle of offering free products to gather users and then finding a way to monetize through another way. Adobe is a big enough company to be able to offer Story for free in order to trigger a mass exodus from FD and MMS. Anything short of it would be a waste of time.
Actually, I would like to see an open-source version of Adobe Story so developers can create custom versions of it. The product gives me the feeling that Adobe lacks screenwriting domain expertise, and would gain a lot by including others to participate in helping the the product evolve. There is much more to be gained from promoting Flex as the platform of choice for developing creative writing apps, than by selling a simple program like Adobe Story as a proprietary app.
$0 is not smart at all.
CeltX, for all the good that it does, still cannot conform to industry
standards, nor does the tools it provides have the polish that other
screenwriting programs have.
Not to mention that CeltX has a bad habit of piling on feature after
feature without polishing what they already have. Page count
differentials from script view to PDF view are a big no-no, and they
still haven't fixed it despite feeling the need to add a sheduling
application, which is likewise half-finished.
The point being not to trash open source, but to show that just
because it's free doesn't mean it's the best. Final Draft, for its
overpricing, Just Works. Screenwriter, for its overpricing, Just Works.
Making it free is not free - Adobe is paying people to make this. They
are a company of business (and Hollywood, likewise, is still a
business). How would you propose they recoup their losses?
If Celtx is flawed, it just means that there is more room in the market. If not open-source, how about the Google model? Perhaps Adobe can use a model that monetizes through services offered by professionals/consultants etc. to the screenwriter community built around Adobe Story. Don't you think paying $$ for a word processor, however sophisticated, is principally opposed to the direction in which the software industry is going?
Proprietary software can be successful only if: a) It has a virtual monopoly in the market (a la Microsoft Office), or b) It offers products of unmatched quality (like Adobe Creative Suite). In case of Adobe Story, neither is true. The main reason FD and MMS have been successful is that they came at a time when there was little else in the market. There is nothing special about their clunky technology to justify the $250 price point. Unless Adobe Story offers something that FD and MMS don't, it cannot compete at the same price point, having entered so late in the game. A lower price (somewhere between $20-60) will still keep it from gathering the critical mass required to be a serious contender. So $0 combined with a sound strategy to monetize through a community does seem like the better option.
As much as I love Adobe CS, there is plenty of competition - AVID,
Final Cut Pro, Sony Vegas, all have traction to varying degrees in the
marketplace. There are others in the prosumer market that I'm
Not to mention that these markets are still bigger than the
screenwriting market (which, realistically, tops out around maybe the
tens of thousands). Not to mention that a screenwriting program is
significantly more than a "sophisticated word processor."
There is a lot of subtlety involved. If all you needed was for it to
format properly, then no screenwriting application would be making
money - we'd all be using MS Office templates. The trick is creating a
program that operates at the speed of thought. If a writer has to
think about how to format something, that is a moment not thinking
about writing. Multiply that by X times a writer has to do that over
the course of a script, and it is a slog. For working/serious writers
(your target demographic), this is critical.
If a lower price point can't work, then the people behind Scrivener (~
$30) are the biggest liars in the world, and they didn't even have
brand recognition to build from.
We all want everything free these days, but that's not how software
development works. What Story has that others do not, along with a
significantly better GUI, is platform independence, and import/export
to FD or MMS. That alone is enough to make people want to go with
them. Why pick one format when you can pick then all, and for cheaper?
Professional/consultant deals also don't work, because the people
you'd want to have consulting you aren't going to be available.
They're busy writing. Plain and simple.
By Adobe CS, I mean graphic design software (i.e. Photoshop and Illustrator), not film/video editing (Adobe Premiere). The editing space is what FCP and Avid dominate; there is no serious competition for Photoshop in the world.
I do agree with you about the size of the market. While email, spreadsheets etc. is a market someone like Google can monetize with advertising only, it is not easy to do the same with a screenwriting program simply because the audience is not large enough. But then, I am not advocating advertising anyway.
My question is: Are there any pricing models other than a $250 flat price that will not only lower the barrier for new users, but keep them loyal as well? I think there are. For instance, I think a $20 annual fee that includes collaboration features and access to upgrades will be substantially more profitable. There is a reason why most proprietary software makers are steering towards SaaS (Software as a Service) models, and there is a reason why social networks are so valuable. To ignore this fact and stick to a proprietary model in the year 2010 seems absurd.
Thanks for your thoughts SC and Whiskeyriot.
Free does not really work for us right now. I don’t think free will continue to work for Google and I don’t think we'll open source our software either. We are looking at ways to make it easy for people to adopt Story so I'd expect the price to be lesser than FD, MM Screenwriter, etc but definitely not zero. We are definitely going to adopt a SaaS like business model for Story with some customizations to make it work for our customers.
I am interested to know why you think we lack screenwriting expertise? Do keep in mind that this is beta software and we have a long list of things that we want to implement well before we call ourselves a 1.0 product.
Product Manager, Adobe Story
Sorry for the delayed response. My feeling about Adobe's lack of domain expertise comes from several observations, two of which are as below -
- The application seems to want to be technically superior to its counterparts (e.g. providing advanced formatting options). IMHO, this is going down the wrong path. Writers are not interested in "dressing" the screenplay; all they want is a simple program to hammer out the script. For instance, that large color palette with tons of shades is pointless. In fact, it makes each color square smaller, hence harder to click on. 10 colors should be more than sufficient.
- Every professional writer knows that typing the script is the last and easiest (sometimes almost cumbersome) part of screenwriting. The main part is building the story and developing it. For this, a writer needs story development tools (e.g. check out apps like "Story Weaver" or "Dramatica Pro") and not fancy formatting features.
I assume your goal is to create an application that fits into the workflow of pre-production, production, and post-production, and ultimately have a suite of applications that serve the entire workflow from end-to-end, Index cards and storyboards are at the heart of pre-production. For production, you're up against "Scenechronize" (I'm not aware of any Adobe equivalent) and post, as we all know, is dominated by FCP and Avid (and not Adobe Premiere). In any case, so long as you are providing something to the user that the current products don't do very well, you are in business. The trick is to know what those things are.
"Every professional writer knows that typing the script is the last and easiest (sometimes almost cumbersome) part of screenwriting. The main part is building the story and developing it. For this, a writer needs story development tools (e.g. check out apps like "Story Weaver" or "Dramatica Pro") and not fancy formatting features."
Absolutely wrong. While story development tools may be helpful (there are just as many working writers who don't like using them as there are who do) the focus is and always has been what's on the page. Phrasing and the mechanics of constructing each scene are not done via Story Weaver; they're done on the page. Story Weaver provides a battle plan, but, as the saying goes, no battle plan survives contact with the enemy (in this case, it's the pages themselves). Concepts that, when you take a step back, may appear ridiculous or radical can look like the most natural thing in the world on the page, and that's not something you can plan. That is something that you the writer must do on the page, at the very moment of conception.
A proper execution of the scene is done through writing, not pre-writing, and a poorly written scene can mean the difference between getting greenlit or being sent back to retool.
I can't stress this enough: The focus is always on the page. You can pre-write until your fingers break, but until people see those 110-120 pages of actual writing, 55-60 if you're TV, and see how each scene is crafted and how they flow into one another (which, again, can't be pre-written), that story does not exist.
And anything that helps the writer keep his/her focus on the page itself without being taken out of the moment is necessary. Development tools are secondary in film and in television rarely if ever used. (If they are used in TV, they're used only by the showrunner, with the rest of the writers seeing and adjusting the results via whiteboard. Online collaborative story tools won't work with TV, either, since everyone meets weekly if not daily at said whiteboard.)
As far as the color palette goes, my guess is that was just convenient for Adobe - it looks like something out of Photoshop, and I wouldn't be surprised if they just pulled it straight from that and plugged it in to Story. I'm indifferent to it or specific color choices.
You seem to disagree with me on everything; I hope you will at least agree on this: no software can save a bad writer, and a talented writer can write very well without any software at all.
The point I'm trying to make is that fancy formatting features generally don't help the writer in any way; in fact, unnecessary formatting features will clutter the UI and may cause the novice writer to do amateurish things. Story development tools, on the other hand, will invariably enhance the writer's ability to create and develop a good script, without doing any damage to beginners. How a script looks on the page depends entirely on the writer's skill.
I agree that TV is a different beast altogether.
Thanks for your thoughts and keeping the discussion going in a constructive
We are trying to keep the formatting features out of the default view. You
don't see font, size, color selection menus when you are authoring your
We will be adding features that help writers visualize their story for
example: index cards, story arcs, etc in some time. We are also interested
in importing story boards into your script/scene/shot.
We have not found a consensus opinion on what a good story development tool
is or lot of people using it which is why we've stayed away from that.
Well, I'd agree with you if you were right!
The problem, here, is falling into the trap that CeltX has - being so caught up in "features" that they forget to perfect the core of their project: Making this client capable of writing a script that, if read by studio readers, would look no different than one written in Final Draft.
CeltX still hasn't quite gotten this right - their margins are too tight, and their page breaks are way too quick on the gun. But the problem now is they are so knee-deep in thousands of different features - A/V scripts, comic book scripts, scheduling programs, call sheet creators, etc. - that turning that ship around to get the core of their program righted is near-impossible to do.
It's because of this over-ambition that many top-level writers took a look at them when "1.0" was released, and then were disappointed. As long as a project is in beta problems will be overlooked, but the moment one does a full release, its core better work correctly or you've already lost your audience. Writers are very particular about the drafting; there can be absolutely nothing wrong with the formatting that the client does. Anything in the client that takes you out of the zone is a failure.
Final Draft/Screenwriter, for all their issues, get one thing completely right: when you're drafting, you are not thinking about the formatting, or mores/continueds, or page breaks. It does all of the that exactly how it's supposed to look without even trying.
One may think that this is so standard and easy, but it's not. Final Draft gets it right. Screenwriter gets it right. Scrivener does as well. And no one else does it correctly. CeltX doesn't get it right. ScriptBuddy isn't good enough, either. There have been plenty attempts to create a pre-production suite, and they rarely get traction, because development starts shooting off to other "cooler" projects before they've completed the core of their client - making it look like a proper script! There is a lot of subtlety involved in making this work and operate smoothly - the outline view of Adobe Story was straight up inspired. And it's these smaller things in the drafting portion of the client itself that're important. Way more important than most people give it credit for.
Along with Abnuhav's note that there is no one story development tool that anyone can agree on (which, exactly - development tools are just that, and I may happen to like Craftsmen while others like Black & Decker, or some people just like to get a generic hammer and screwdriver and do it themselves), it's also not necessary for the client to function. At 1.0, one thing Story needs to be is fully functional at what it promises - which is writing a script.
I am not against story development tools, and though I tend to do my development via physical notepad, I do see their merit. However, what I don't agree with is the suggestion of its level of necessity. What's a necessity is getting the drafting portion of this client done proper. All else is secondary. All of the most awesome tools in the world won't save your client if the script doesn't format properly.
I apologize. I should have been more clear. I was more referring to adoption by the studios. They adopt technology less quickly than the average American educator (I used to work in education, so of this, I have first-hand evidence) technology used for actual film production not withstanding. And I am in no way advocating for Final Draft or Screenwriter.
You can safely bet that there will never be a consensus on story development tools, or for that matter, many other features. But isn't this precisely the reason to allow third party extensions? OK you don't think open source works, fine. But the last few years have clearly shown us how third party apps can rapidly expand a user base. Ignoring this lesson is, to be honest, nothing short of a travesty.
I don't think open source is the solution. Want to beat Final Draft at its game? There are some things that can be done to do it. But the first, most cardinal rule must be this:
Let the writer focus on writing!
Any features that are brought up, any tools or palettes considered need to keep this one focus in mind. Unlike so many other applications where they get used in many different ways, there's really only three modes that scriptwriting software needs to be used in.
First, scene arrangement. Final Draft does this by either cutting and pasting or Index cards. Steal from them if you want, but go one better. Let writer's organize not only by time, but into proper segments: Intro, Act I, Act II, Act III, Resolution.
Second, writing. Final Draft simplifies this by having a clean white background, large-looking fonts, and a very simple interface that allows tabbing to be used to move between the formatting styles. Steal from this, but go one better. I personally prefer a more elegant font, something very readable, rather than Courier. So let writer's have a writing, editing font choice, while output remains in standard studio format. Have the output format be separate from the input, writing, editing, formats. Second, allow for notes, revision tracking (with edits, approval, deletions, etc.) and have easy links from any bit of character dialog to their bio (kept in a separate DB). This way, if a writer is working on a scene and realizes a graduation with a chemistry degree is necessary, it's only a click to add that to the bio and keep working on the scene. Don't need to be too fancy here, simple really is best. When I write in FD, I use the studio standard format, then change the fonts to something I prefer writing in, and change the colors, but then going back is a pain. Make that transition easy, and I think it'll help.
Third, editing. This is when the brain of the writer has to jump back and forth between creative and critical, and should come with a small but unique set of tools. Tools for moving scenes, splitting scenes, making notes for dialog changes, reordering scenes, and then returning. No one does this very well today. This is an area you could totally kill FD in! There are really 4 levels to editing. First level is the structural. Is something wrong with the story as a whole? Then second there is the characters, setting, backstory, etc. Is anything false, out of place, not deep enough, quirky enough? Third, is flow, from dialog to scene to act. And lastly, is the pesky grammar, spelling, punctuation, and technical polish.
All the rest of the stuff is gravy, but if you help the writers focus on their main job (putting the script on paper!), you'll have plenty of customers!
I like a lot of what you got here, and while I have no problem with allowing font changes in the drafting portion, I should caution people that when they do so, they need to keep a VERY close eye on page count. Changing the font from Courier to simply Times can change the count by one or two pages when you've completed your script.
If you're working on a film script, you may end up going from 119 to 121 - and if you're working on spec, going 120+ is the kiss of death.
If you're working on a TV script, page count is even doubly critical.
So yeah, if you want, write in another font (I wouldn't, but far be it from me to restrict options), but just know to keep an eye on your progress in Courier.
Because I write scripts for nonlinear, database-driven film projects, I love that Story allows me to tag as I go, easily navigate tabs and content, and see screenplay elements (scenes, parts of scenes, characters) as objects rather than a single seamless text. It makes my db work -- and thinking -- much simpler, since I'm required to think of narrative and db affordances at once.
As long as the price point is in line with FD, I would purchase the product. It would be even sweeter if my collaboration partners were able to purchase "companion" licenses for less than full cost (if we had the ability to share content with a small set of licenses rather than having to purchase a full license for view-only or notes-only work on the screenplay).
Thanks -- I love the product so far.
I was looking at sceneWriter and noticed it has come down in price to only $30. I actually had a trial version of the app from way back - mid 2007 or so and then noticed this is the SAME version as is on their site currently. Meaning there has been no work or updates or added features in over 3 years???
Is 3.5.3 simply that perfect that NOTHING has needed changing? Or is the firesale price reduction indicitive of a last chance cash grab before the plug gets pulled?
The "desktop air version" of story would be considered a stand alone app correct?
From a screen writing aspect here's what I've encountered so far getting screen writers i work with to try story.
I send them a link to check out story. I get a final draft version. I update the adobe story version and send another note. I get another final draft version and so on. I step them throught the process of signing up. Try to explain why this is better for production and show them potentially cool stuff like Pace. They are wowed and guess what. I get my next version in final draft.
Most of the writers I deal with dont or wont even use current versions of final draft. If the industry does not require them to upgrade for some reason, then they will take the "if it aint broke then dont fix it" option. I think that for writer adoption the program has to have some mind blowing features that a writer just cant resist. Like Pace. thats a step in the right direction for sure.
For now, for me at least, story is something comes into play after we've finished the final version in Final Draft. which is a shame because its a neat program.
personally, i love story's web application... downloadable software is fine, but the most useful aspect for me is being able use it anywhere, as i often write on two different computers-- at the office, and at home-- both with internet connections. i'm a big google docs user, as well.
if the downloadable software worked seamlessly with the web application, i might download it so i could work offline at home. after a while the web application SERIOUSLY slows down my ancient laptop there. but i wouldn't trade downloadable software for the web-based. i already own final draft, and there are too many free or low-cost competetors.
i also love the project management aspect of it, but haven't totally explored all of those tools yet.
price-wise, i would pay $10-14/month for the web-based service and think it's very fair. a one-time yearly fee would give me pause, just seems like a bigger chunk to bite off, but i would ultimately do it. if the price was any higher, i would find other options... the industry is still hanging on to final draft anyway, so i would probably just find a way to make that work with the help of google docs.
a request: can you fix it so scene headers (slugs) don't get orphaned at the bottom of a page? it's really annoying. if a scene is actually on the next page, i want the slug to stay with it, not hang by itself on the prior page.
btw- if price point ends up being higher, hopefully you'll consider providing all sorts of deals and discounts to industry professionals and early adopters (wink, wink).
price-wise, i would pay $10-14/month for the web-based service and think it's very fair. a one-time yearly fee would give me pause, just seems like a bigger chunk to bite off, but i would ultimately do it. if the price was any higher, i would find other options...
Final draft 8 new is around $180. I can't imaging paying $120 - $140 every year for a product that I won't use every day. Even if I used it every day, I would still have a hard time paying that amount. Also, since the whole point of having it on-line is to share it with others and they would also require a license to view it, a much lower rate would be more reasonable.
My suggestion is closer to $2 - 4 a month for the service. That is only $24 - 48 a year, but if have a group of people using the service (writer, director, camera, actors), then you are bringing in more revenue that just having the writer own a copy of the software and printing out copies.