Free Love Story
It’s not too often we cover products that are free. Mostly, we cover gear that you’ll have to plop down some cash for in return for a glossy product with a certain level of customer support. While Celtx doesn’t have that pro-look or a 24-hour 1-800 number, it does offer a great set of tools for creative amateurs and professionals who are working with narrative scripts.
Built like a Fox
Celtx is built from the same software framework as Mozilla Firefox, a popular web browser among nerds and Internet junkies (and our own office staff). Since Firefox itself is a free, open-source program, it was only natural to keep that true when a collection of software developers and filmmakers created Celtx. Its lineage is obvious. Celtx (which is available for PC, Mac and Linux in 20 different languages) has its similarities with Firefox. We reviewed Celtx version 0.9.7.2, but at the time of publishing this issue we saw that 0.9.8 was released. The latest release ties directly into their revamped Project Central. More on that later.
Script writing software has evolved over time to become more than just a word processor. Celtx is proof of that, offering a myriad of forms to help keep track and organize the fine details of characters, scenes, actors, locations, props, wardrobe, and scheduling to name a few. You can add these forms to your project navigator and organize them in folders. Each form has its unique entries helping you define what’s important to the story. You can open and attach nearly any type of file to a project including media (movies and pictures). In case of the character form, you might attach some concept art to help show some of the character’s physical features. Or, as in the actor form, attach a headshot or audition to help jog your memory or appropriately cast your characters. For beginning script writers these forms will help you consider the important details, too, in each script element and for those who have been doing this for awhile, it’s nice to have it organized and all in one spot.
Plays Nice with Others
The first window you’ll see when opening the program is the launch window. The launch window is unique because it connects to Celtx online and reveals new discussion threads on their forums and their Project Central public entries. Project Central is where you can publicly post and collaborate on scripts. This is another strong point for Celtx as it helps writers connect with other writers across the globe. Whether you want a collaborative experience between web users or some software help, it’s available to you so long as you can connect to the Internet. I guess you can get a type of 24-hour support after all, but depending on what your problem is, the answer may not be quickly available. It’s also important to note that Celtx has a usage statistics feature enabled. If you don’t like big brother watching over your software usage, make sure to disable this feature immediately under options in the tools menu.
If a public writing lifestyle isn’t for you, private collaboration is also possible. This feature is built right into the application using the upload and download buttons. When you first use these tools you’ll be prompted to set-up a user account with Celtx. Once you have a username and password, you can upload your project to the Celtx server. Where on earth this actually lives and who has access to this server at the administration level, are two questions we can’t help but wonder. We don’t know, so we ask you to use caution with this feature for the integrity of your “private” information. Nonetheless, it works well.
Ready, Set, Write
Clearly, Celtx has great potential for writers in terms of collaboration, but it’s the nuts and bolts of script writing that we really care about. Creating a script is just like creating any other item in the program so you can add multiple scripts in a single project. The script editor layout is somewhat customizable, but not nearly as much as we would have liked to seen. This is one area that suffers. On the up side, however, formatting your script is made easy with a pulldown box with a variety of presets. Using this tool will format the line where your cursor lies to whatever preset you choose (e.g. scene, action character, dialogue, etc.), eliminating extra key strokes.
Overall, Celtx is a perfect script writing software for beginners and intermediate writers/producers that embodies the whole process of script writing. And, it’s free.
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux
OS: Windows 98, ME, NT 4.0, 2000, XP/ Mac OS X 10.2.x or higher/Linux kernel 2.2.14 or higher
Processor 233MHz Pentium or PowerPC G3
RAM 128 MB
- Multiple platforms
- Easy to use
- Limited customer service
- Usage statistic tracking
- Waiting for more video tutorials
Celtx will help you organize your script for free; it’s the coffee that adds up.
Mark Montgomery is Videomaker’s technical editor.