About Moviemaking Software

It’s important to understand what you stand to gain by using the correct software for your purposes. Let me demystify it for you. Here’s a list of software that I recommend you use:

Screenplay Writing
The best screenplay writing software (as long as you are not writing to any Indian screenplay standard – which, by the way, is not existent) is Final Draft. It formats your screenplay perfectly according to Hollywood standards, and is very fast and easy to use.

Documents, Breakdowns, Accounting, Budgeting and Scheduling
Even though there are many specialized budgeting and scheduling software out there, nothing beats the great Microsoft Office suite of tools, mainly Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and all the other tools you can use to get a handle on every aspect of your production. I have personally realized through experience that, in the long run, MS Office is faster, more accurate, more stable and easier to use than any ‘specialized’ software.

There might be many people claiming to know how to draw storyboards, and many companies who claim to have the perfect storyboarding software, but none comes close to Frameforge 3D. You can create characters, locations and cameras precisely enough to match the scenarios you have created, and also get a practical view of the challenges you might face while on location. What more can you ask for? The only downside to Frameforge is that it needs a lot of computer power to fully render complex scenes, but it can be done. By the way, did I mention Frameforge also does Stereoscopy? Ask some artist to try that by hand sometime.

Image Manipulation and Editing
Adobe Photoshop. Period.

Monitoring video during production
If you’re shooting video you have to use Adobe OnLocation. I can’t begin to tell you how useful this software is to analyze your video while on set, to ensure you are shooting exactly what you intend to.

I stick to the Adobe suite. And I’ve always used Adobe Premiere Pro. It works perfectly, and it allows me to use my files natively, unlike some other programs like FCP, etc.

Sound Editing and Mixing
I stay away from Apple. My favorite editing and mixing software is Steinberg Nuendo. There’s nothing it can do, and since it’s mostly PC-based, the support, plug-ins, libraries and sounds that you have at your disposal will keep you occupied for the rest of your career.

Motion graphics, titles, basic compositing and finishing
The God of the motion graphics world is Adobe After Effects, and it’s probably the only software you’ll ever need along with your editing program.

Advanced Compositing, Tracking and Rotoscoping
The current numero uno for advanced VFX compositing, tracking and rotoscoping (if you’re looking for one software to do it all), is Nuke, by The Foundry. From compositing in 3D space, to working in full 32-bit, to high-end keying, rotoing and tracking, nobody does it better, or faster, than Nuke. If I were a programmer, I would retire after making something like Nuke. It’s that good.

3D CGI and Animation
If Nuke is the king of the hill as far as vfx is concerned, the lord and god of the 3D world is Autodesk Maya. Almost every 3D animation or game that you see has gone through Maya, and even though there are open source or free software out there that are very capable, you will be unwise to disregard Maya. There’s nothing it can’t do. Actually, the new Maya even comes with a compositing app! You can make an entire feature film with this one program. None of the other software on this page can do that.

Color Grading
There are very high end color grading applications that are hardware and software based. The good news is that you really don’t need them, unless you have a lot of money and very less time. You see, the best apps only make things faster, not better. For full color grading, all you ever need is Synthetic Aperture’s Color Finesse plug-in for After Effects. You’re set.

You can create menus, encode and author your DVDs and Blu-rays with Adobe Encore. It works like a dream.

Render Management
If you have the money, the best render management software is Qube! by PipelineFX. If you don’t have the money, and can handle the stress from crashes and wasted time, try the powerful DrQueue. You might fail the software more than it fails you.

Website Development
Want to build a website quickly? Go for Adobe Dreamweaver. But I know you want Flash, so you’ll also need Adobe Flash. Hey, they come as a package in Creative Suite, so who’s complaining? Between these two you have every tool you’ll ever need to create your website. I don’t have to remind you that Flash is also used to create animations and trailers in the FLV format.