Monday, December 14, 2009

EZ (and free!) Pre-Production with Celtx

I'm working on re-vamping my Film Studies class (again) for next semester. I'm going more production-oriented this year, and less focus on the academic analysis. The class is filled with spring-semester seniors who've already been accepted to college. You can imagine how academically oriented they are.

While digging around online, I ran across Celtx, a free tool that integrates the various stages of pre-production into one downloadable application. Whether they're putting together a pitch, writing a script or storyboarding, Celtx provides the appropriate tools.

Here's a link to their overview tutorial, which isn't embeddable for some reason.

I'll let the tutorial explain the various functions. I'm definitely going to use this with my film class. Storyboarding is always an agony for them, and this might give them incentive--I love the way it connects their script with the storyboard.

You do need to purchase the extra clip art set to be able to use the sketchpad for storyboarding, but it's only $5. My biggest gripe is it's somewhat limited in its representation of various camera angles, but there's not really a good online storyboarding tool that I've ever seen.

It does allow students to upload storyboard sketches, once they're scanned, but I can't imagine my students taking the time to do that. If you run a more intense film class than my one semseter class (say the 2-year IB film class), that would be a more usable option.

It's probably best at formatting the various types of scripts, and syncing with the various elements of casting, props, etc. Basically, it helps students organize the vast universe that is pre-production.

I doubt I'd use it with middle-schoolers, but it's a good tool for older students.

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