I got an email this morning (or was it last night?) asking if I’d like to participate in the beta testing of the new Sophocles scriptwriting software.
Now, I don’t know about this. I use Final Draft and I’m quite happy with it. Apart from a few moronic decisions in the early versions of FD7, namely saving each page as a picture when you convert it to PDF (why?), I have no problems with it and it does everything I want it too.
I don’t really use any of the scene navigator functions or whatever else is in there. I use it for typing and that’s about it. I’m aware people don’t like it and there are other programs which perform better with more functionality; but I really don’t care. It does what I want and that’s fine.
But in the spirit of curiousity, I’ve downloaded Sophocles and had a look. First impressions?
There are things all over the screen! Hundreds of things, what are they? Buttons, tabs, menus … what the fuck is all this?
I had to switch it off and have a little lie down.
I’m back now and I’ve had another look. At a second glance I still find it quite confusing, I think it will take a while to get used to what it all does. I also find it quite weird that the default setting puts the ‘paper’ in a small window to one side instead of in front of you. And you don’t get page breaks, just a continuous stream of paper with thirty second intervals marked on the side. No page numbers? How does that work? I like page numbers.
I’ve just checked to see if it actually does have page numbers or not and I couldn’t find the program. It’s not in the programs list in my start menu, where the hell is it? Oh right, I’ve found it. What the hell is it doing over there? Nope, no page numbers.
There is an option to switch it to a page view, but that just puts a thin dotted line across the endless page. Every now and then Word does something like this and I hate it. I like the pages to look as much like a piece of paper as possible. The other problem is the explorer at the side. When I worked out how to get rid of it, the paper moved to the centre, but the text is too small to read. I’m trying to find a way to enlarge the view, but I’ve no idea how.
Right, I’ve found that.
And we’re off. Okay, so this is starting to make sense now. The story outlining aspects might be useful; but I like to do those on a piece of paper first, then move to a board so I can get a total overview. I’m not sure I like having the scenes on the screen, I find shifting my attention to another medium helps me think about things in a different way. I guess it’s something I could get used to and is useful if I’m writing away from home.
This then is the real test, if all I want it to do is exactly what my pre-existing software already does, then how much use is it to me? It’s a bit different and I could get used to it, but do I want or need to get used to a different program?
I’ll give it a fair run, though. I’ve got a script which needs a re-write so I’ll do it on Sophocles, see how it goes and report back.
Don’t take my word for it though, try it for yourself. The beta version is available for all and sundry here: