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From One to Many

In a series about screenwriting software, some of the main screenwriting software titles out there will contribute an article to The Story Department. We open the series with Mark Kennedy, CEO of Celtx.

“Just a few days ago, we released version 2.0 of the Celtx software.

A lot of people don’t quite get what Celtx is about. I guess people see things from their own perspective. If they are screenwriters, they see a screenwriting application, if they are filmmakers, they see a pre-production package, if they are storyboard artists, they see a media application, if they are comic book creators, they see a new tool to help them make the same. And so it goes, each person seeing in Celtx what is useful to them in their own pursuit of creativity.

Don’t get me wrong. That’s all fine by us. In fact, that’s what we hoped would happen. That people would derive their own benefit based on their own needs. We always figured that there were, are, as many different ways to create media as there are users, so we tried to make the Celtx software as flexible as possible.

Thing is, no matter how they work, whether following traditional bottom up approaches to developing their story, or employing non-linear methods, most every media creator uses a lot of the same tools as the next person. It comes down to Story – characters, a situation, and locations.

You see a lot of references these days about the trend towards “convergence”, the merging of many different media formats – film, game, audio – the re-purposing of one media format for adaptation to another format. This in our view, is only describing what has always been the case. Artists have never been afraid to try new forms; to apply, and expand their skills beyond the confines of a single type of media.

Very few, if any, of the existing media software offerings seemed to recognize that fact, choosing instead to pigeon hole users in to one type of media, and through the use of proprietary file formats, and rigid work flows, preventing those same users from expanding beyond their initial canvass.

This, ultimately, is the opportunity we saw – to provide media artists with a tool that would be as expandable as they wanted it to be. One that let them easily re-purpose their media to other formats, and re-purpose their data to other applications.

What was needed was a universally accepted tool. A platform. Whatever you want to call it. But a way for any and all media creators to use one system that supported all of their requirements and let them collaborate without worrying about data formats, and incompatible technologies. Making media is hard enough without being frustrated by files that won’t open or technologies that limit creativity.

This is why Celtx is open source and uses only open standards. It ensures maximum flexibility and a common platform that all media makers can use.

Being an open source software application, Celtx is open to anyone to integrate their own technology in to the system. Just recently, another company developing a script writing offering had indicated that they are developing a tool that ties in to the Celtx software.

That’s the whole idea. To make Celtx the default system for developing media regardless of the specific application you are using to create different aspects of their project. Once saved in a Celtx Project, the media is unassailable, re-purposeable, convertible, and sharable by all.

This usually begs the question of how do we make money from all of this? What motivation do we have to make Celtx a success (other then for altruistic reasons)?

The growing use of web services is an undeniable, and unstoppable trend in the technology business. Every company developing technology sees the writing on the wall. The future is in selling web services that augment the desktop environment.

When the cell phone industry first got going in Europe, everyone agreed (with the help of some gentle persuasion from the regulators) to a common standard. The risk was that without a common standard everyone would go off madly in all directions, balkanizing the cell phone environment in to a myriad of networks, none of which would talk to each other. The result would have been very bad for users.

Instead, an open standard was promulgated, and everyone rushed to innovate off that open standard, introducing new hand sets and new technologies to gain market share. Nokia became one of the best in the industry at being the first to market with new innovations, gaining more and more users. The rest, as they say, is history.

This is what we hope for Celtx – that it continues to establish itself as the open system for creating and sharing media. We may have invented it, but we don’t own it, any more then Nokia owns the 3G cell phone network that they have so successfully leveraged.

The new Celtx Studios is our first commercial offering based on the open standards Celtx software. It is designed to provide media creators with web based access to their media projects, including optimized archiving for sub-versions, collaboration features and the ability to create protected web Previews.

The same offering, or one similar to it, could be developed by anyone using the open source code of Celtx to achieve their goal, just like the Nokia competitor, Ericsson, has also developed new cell phone technologies that work on the same system as Nokia’s.

One open system, many offerings based on that system, all benefiting users. That’s the promise. That’s the future.”

-Mark Kennedy
CEO Celtx

About the Author

markkennedy

Comments 5

  1. I’m guessing after March 24 I wont be able to format my screenplay using the “typeset” tab – without paying a subscription fee? Totally understand if this is the case, I thought it was too good to be true. Any indication on what subscription will cost?

  2. Nope. Not true. this is not the case at all. Nothing that is currently offered free in celtx will be charged for. only new extended features. Celtx take nothing back, only offer extensions to fill specific advanced needs.

    The new Celtx Studio online service allows for collaboration, online storage, review and so on. All as an extension to the desk top app but everything in the desktop app remains part of the open source application including Typeset.

    The Celtx Studio offers the most complete service of its kind at a bargain basement price of $50 per year with 5gb of storage.

    Cant do better than that.

    It’s amazing how skeptical people are of open-source; there’s a lot of people who seem to think Celtx are about to pull a swifty and start charging through the nose for stuff that was previously free. this is just not true. Its a very different business model and the range of possibility for Celtx simply leaves the likes of Final Draft looking positively archaic.

    Cheers

    Mike Jones
    Head of Tech Arts
    International Film School Sydney
    Celtx Collaborator

  3. Hey Anthony,
    Sheila here from Celtx, just chiming in to help clarify and provide some additional info. First of all, you’ll be happy to know TypeSet will always be free, along with these other features and technologies….

    1. The Celtx Software
    A state of the art, Semantic web compliant, open source, open standards, hybrid Rich Internet software application, available on Mac OS X, Windows and Linux in 28 languages, that provides a feature rich tool set for making a wide variety of media, including five different script editors, while simultaneously enabling new approaches to pre-production.

    2. Project Central
    A community focused site for unlimited posting of Celtx Projects that supports mobile interfaces, Profiles, downloading of ancillary media, and email alert integrated threaded discussions.

    3. Typeset
    An innovative formatting service that enables the generation of format perfected screenplays, audio plays, stageplays, two column AV scripts, and comic books, and generates PDFs too.

    4. Support
    Multiple entry point support including direct email and Forum support for all of the Celtx system, including the use of Project Central and the current and all past versions of the Celtx software.

    5. Toolbox
    Free application add-ons, including cvs Catalog export and foreign language dictionaries.

    Once the commercial beta ends on March 24/09, we will be offering the online Celtx Studios for an annual subscription fee of $50.00 (US). For this price (equivalent of $4 per month) the new Celtx Studios provide access to a top tier, fully supported, multiple backed up server environment (EC2) whose core feature set, which can be enhanced without requiring a new release of the client, includes:

    a. Recent Activity Log
    b. Project Management
    i. Project Storage (5GB)
    ii. Direct Project launches from the Studio
    iii. Sharing for Collaboration
    c. Archives of all past versions of every Project that can be opened in the Celtx software for retrieval.
    d. Preview creation for password protected web enabled views of Celtx Projects with integrated email alert threaded discussions.

    So there you have it. I hope this helps clarify our offering. Please feel free to contact us anytime at info at celtx dot com if we can be of further assistance.

    Kind Regards,
    Sheila Crosbie
    Celtx.com

  4. Hi Sheila,
    I downloaded Celtx and want to use it for a comic book, but have never written one before and don’t have any directions on how to use it. Can you please e-mail me directions? Also, I have a book written in Microsoft Word. Can I convert it into the comic book version? If so, how? Thanks.

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