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Lights, Camera, Interaction!

By Schneider, Jim | T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education), February 1999 | Go to article overview

Lights, Camera, Interaction!


Schneider, Jim, T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)


Film and video production can be found to some degree in nearly every high school and university in the country. Future Steven Spielbergs use whatever tools are at their disposal to make their own movie magic. Following are some software titles that will prove to be of great worth to film students and to those interested in movie making.

The first step in movie making is, of course, the screenplay. For students or educators interested in screenwriting, BC Software offers Final Draft 4.1, an easy to use professional screenwriting program that automatically paginates and formats your script to industry standards as you write. Anyone who has tried to write screenplay format on a standard word processor knows how frustrating it can be. For example, scene numbers, MORE's and CONTINUED's and industry-standard pagination are difficult for a normal word processor to handle.

Available for Windows and Mac, Final Draft has 100% cross-platform compatibility. Built-in screenwriting elements, such as Slug Lines, Action, Character, Dialogue, Parenthetical and Transitions are set to industry standard formats and can be customized. Keystroke shortcuts are fully customizable and its full-featured word processing includes spell checking, thesaurus, multi-level undo/redo and drag and drop editing.

We found that Final Draft's intuitive interface made screenwriting easy and fun. A Smart Type function eliminates repetitive typing of character names, Slug Lines and Transitions. In a dialogue scene between two characters, it automatically enters the second character's name after you finish the first character's line. Scene Navigator has an Index Card and Outlining feature that allows for quick and easy restructuring of the script.

Once you have your story set out, you may want to learn more about the art of filmmaking itself. Electronic Vision, Inc. lets you attend a virtual film school on your PC or Mac. How to Make Your Movie: An Interactive Film School covers all areas of filmmaking from screenwriting through pre-production, filming and post-production. There is also attention given to things like festivals and available funding.

The interactive CD-ROM actually allows you to "walk" through the halls and into various rooms dealing with different areas of film. In the Script Room, users will find very helpful tips and resources for screenwriting. The Pre-Production Room shows you how to gather your resources. Other "rooms" include a Post-Production Room for editing and sound mixing, a Film Grammar Room, a Festival Room, a Library and an Equipment Room which features an interactive lighting studio and a light metering exercise.

Each room contains a written or video "guest lecture" from professional filmmakers and educators at NYU, UCLA and other well-known film schools. They each share their unique understanding of the art and the craft of filmmaking. Also found in the rooms are various exercises, tips and an excellent list of recommended reading and must-see films relating to each particular subject. At the end, students can watch "Pasta Paolo," a short student film produced for CD-ROM to demonstrate techniques learned in the course.

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