This article was originally published by American Cinematographer.
According to the minds behind Scriptation, a new production application, everyday businesses in America use an amount of paper that could circle the earth 20 times. They quote paper as the largest industrial consumer of water, requiring an average of 300 liters for every 1kg of paper.
Aiming to end the tremendous waste created by numerous script revisions and the exponential amount of paper it takes to print them all, the company says production report averages of roughly $190 per crew member to reproduce these scripts during a single season of a television show.Available now $9.99 for Apple iOS devices and Microsoft PCs, with included stylus compatibility for styluses like the Surface Pen and the Apple Pencil, Scriptation is being developed for the Mac OS platform.
At its core, the app is simply a PDF annotation solution, but offers productions a number of features specific to the needs of filmmaking and broadcast that are not included on other platforms.
Automatic highlighting by character.
It differs in that it can “intelligently” transfer notes between multiple forms, eliminating collation and hand-rewrites from standard script management. “It was really a very time consuming process to keep everything in order,” explains cinematographer Ramsey Nickell, who has been using the application since day one. He says he’s seen it evolved exponentially as a solution in a very short time.
“I have this beautiful big leather binder that a director gave me on one job. Inside of it I had my little pouches and all my pens and different colored highlighters. I’d go through and I would make all my notes on the script, and get things dialed in, and everything would be great. Then the new pages would come out.”
“I’d have to take those new pages, and I’d have to go through, collate them into my binder, go over all my post-its and re-highlight all the things that were already highlighted. After about four or five revisions, your post-its aren’t sticking anymore, so I’d have to make new post-its.”
Handwritten annotations will automatically populate to new versions of scripts
“Now I have an iPad mini that I carry around with me that basically keep in my pocket,” Nickell continues. “With Scriptation, it literally takes me 10 seconds to take all my notes and collate them and everything else into the new script, instantly. Now, I have annotated post-its to talk about different things for different departments. “
“When I’m having meetings with these people, I can scan through really quickly. I can do lighting plots within the specific scenes and attach photos and locations, which I can have directly in my script. Everything is so much smoother and faster and easier for me to deal with. On every single show that I have used it on, I would say at least half a dozen people end up getting it.”
The algorithm that they use for automatically transferring of these notes is called Transcription. In addition to standard text, notations can include sticky notes, drawings, images and sound recordings, including dicatations with automatic transcriptions.
Scriptation creator and CEO Steven Vitolo is particularly proud of the actor-highlighting feature, which will search through and organize characters to easily mark lines en masse. These can also display the original lines for comparison on what has been altered.
The Scriptation app includes several organizational features, including folders and access to recent files
“I worked as a script coordinator on television shows and I’ve been wanting to go paperless for years,” adds Vitolo. “With the script process you get revisions, and then revisions, and then revisions. On one show, a really big show, the production coordinator said there were literally had 100 script revisions on a single episode.”
“The tech I wanted to build was some kind of way to move the annotations across documents, so if you take all your notes on a draft of a 120-page movie, and then you get new, full drafts of that same feature, you could hit a button and all your annotations will move over.”
Side-by-side comparisons of draft versions.
Additionally, manual highlights, underlines and strikethroughs can be performed, and a color picker provides uniformity for multiple users. Search fields and document previews allow fast scans and immediate location of notes, dialogue or scene. With internal mail functionality, annotations can be emailed, texted, and airdropped to productions as individual pages or full scripts.
Most recently, they added the ability to situate blank pages in the script for personal notes and schematics or drawings, like lighting designs, for example. Photos can be added as a blank page, or annexed into portions of the script. The document management system also has folder creation, which works with third party solutions like Dropbox and Google Drive. iCloud integration has been promised, as well.
Hand-drawn notes, photos and drawings can be added within margins or on blank pages.
With bulk pricing for studios and independent productions, Scriptation Studio is an enterprise version for associated crew members with secure sharing, document encryption and safety features. Already compatible with security watermarking from studios, the app also has kill switches for files, by device, to restrict sharing or misplacement during or after a production. They can even tell if someone has taken screenshots.
Several shows have already embraced the software, including Black-ish (on which Vitolo worked as a script coordinator), Scandal and Grace and Frankie. New tools are planned specifically for cinematographers, directors, sound mixers, script supervisors and actors.
Cut lines can be accessed for comparison between scripts.
For upcoming improvements, Vitolo says they are working on adding collaborative notations between users. In the meantime, notes and annotations can be emailed as PDF for others to peruse and incorporate. They plan to support other file types beside PDF in the future, as well, and are working on “layers,” which will provide a way to toggle others’ notes on and off.
Already being demoed, the app has plentiful backing from a number of industry stalwarts, including Russell Carpenter, ASC. “With Scriptation, I can add all kinds of information to my script during prep, like reference photos, diagrams, and written ideas, and transfer them instantly into script revisions I receive on the road,” he says. “Scriptation is a huge time saver. A process that used to take hours, now takes seconds.”
Download the app for iOS here and Windows PCs here.
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