When I was twelve years old I lived one block away from Desilu and Paramount Studios in Hollywood, California. While I was twelve I also was very fortunate as a kid to get a very cool job at this time in my life and that job was as a paperboy for a Los Angeles daily newspaper called the Herald Examiner. My new paper route focused on delivering the Examiner to subscribers of the paper in residential homes and apartment buildings in my neighborhood, but it also included a few commercial stops to; a popular radio station called KHJ, a restaurant and bar called Nick O’Dells, and to my utter amazement the two movie studios which were a stone’s throw from where I lived!
Pictured above is new Adobe Story, an off/online collabrative script writing tool.
To this day kids who live in Hollywood near these two studios (now combined as one) attempt to sneak inside to see their favorite movies and shows being made. In my day (back in the sixties & seventies) it was a very, very big deal to us “”Hollywood” kids to sneak inside. In fact many kids (including me) concocted elaborate and often times crazy and dangerous plans to break into those two studios; but try as we might there simply was no way to get past the terrifying coils of razor wire a top thirty foot high towering four foot thick concrete and steel walls surrounding the studios, including a spooky cemetery which bordered one side of them! An even worse deterrent to us kids were the tough as nails studio guards with their massive Smith & Weston revolvers at their sides.
Becoming the Hollywood paperboy for the studios meant I now had complete access to the Desilu and Paramount lots and all I had to do to enter the inner sanctum of the studios was simply in good “boy scout” fashion salute the guards at the front gates as I peddled my red Sting Rey bike with its hip yellow banana seat and bags of newspapers past them and I was in!
Delivering papers to the studios each day opened up an amazing adventure for me as I entered the eerily deserted studio back lots (imagine walking through totally deserted streets of midtown Manhattan) and the movie sound stages with their fire truck like revolving red lights indicating the sets inside were “hot,” meaning films and television shows were currently in production (being shot inside).
I’d pull back on the heavy and thick sound proof bomb shelter type doors of the sound stages and enter the worlds of: I Love Lucy, Bonanza, Hogan’s Heroes, I Spy, Mission: Impossible and one of my all time favorite TV series, Star Trek! Best of all the stages were so huge I’d simply ride my bike into them and suddenly find myself magically leaving 1970’s Los Angeles behind. It was as if I had entered a time machine and seconds later found myself peddling down European streets and alleyways behind the iron curtain in some war torn Eastern bloc country (Mission: Impossible) one minute and then magically transporting back in time a hundred years to the dusty streets of the old West of Dodge City (Bonanza). Then just as suddenly I’d be thrust into hyperspace jumping into the distant future peddling through Scotty’s transporter room on the Star Ship Enterprise!
Now you may be asking yourself, what on earth does any of this have to do with Adobe and Education!? Well actually, tons. What this daily oddball Hollywood kid adventure of mine did to me years ago was expose me to the incredible world of “storytelling”. In fact, I owe this childhood job of mine to the very reason I’m writing this blog post right this moment; a profound love for writing and storytelling of all kinds.
Screenwriting in the Past
When I wasn’t selling newspapers to Hoss, Little Joe, and “Pa” (from Bonanza) or Sulu, Scotty, Captain Kirk and Spock (I’m sure you know who these guys are) I stared for hours and hours “on set” watching the likes of Gene Roddenberry (Producer and Screenwriter of the original Star Trek series) and dozens of other talented Hollywood storytellers tell these stories by constantly referring to a script that was always glued in their hands working alongside a small army of movie making collaborators. Back in the sixties and seventies Hollywood screenwriters wrote out their drafts of scripts for the most part by hand on long yellow paper legal pads with little itty bitty story notes taped all over the pages – and of course with typewriters (remember those?).
With the invention of the personal computer script writers now of course use digital word processors (Microsoft’s Word as an example) or dedicated screenwriting tools such as Final Draft® or Movie Magic Screenwriter®, script writing tools that format the stories in the proper (and very rigid) formats that the film, television, broadcast and media production companies worldwide expect the scripts to be in. This has been the norm in Hollywood and around the world – until now.
The Future of Screenwriting
Last week Adobe Systems changed the entire rules and future of the scriptwriting game and profession. At the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) conference in Las Vegas, Adobe announced “Adobe Story” a new collaborative scriptwriting tool for film, broadcast, and rich media.
So why will this new Adobe Story tool change the screenwriting world? Because it is one of those “tipping point” technologies whose time has come; movie making, broadcasting, powerful educational eLearning, training and more require collaboration by many, many people and a lot more. What’s so darn different about Adobe Story is that it takes this significant collaborative element of writing screenplays into consideration and it does so by using the web to write scripts – and a lot more (will get to this “more” below). Adobe Story is hosted on Adobe’s servers and is both an on and offline tool. You’ll access it through your favorite browser. However, if you need to work offline – like on a plane or train or just to remove distractions you’ll be able to install a desktop AIR version and then sync your changes to the online version later.
The real magic of Adobe Story comes into play when you learn how easy it is to collaborate with people all over the world on your scripts since Adobe Story will be a SaaS (Software As A Service) delivered tool. As an example your screenplay’s co writer (living in France for instance) can work on the script from anywhere and at anytime she wants, or as another example your project’s producer can login to your Adobe Story Account, read your latest dazzling draft and then give you story “notes” (Hollywood jargon for feedback and changes to make on the script) anytime and from anywhere (say the Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge).
Adobe Story is not the first web based script writing tool to be offered online; there are several tools of this kind that have been around for a while now. Where it will truly shine in the future is how it will handle “metadata” attached to the script and the “keywords” you type into your Adobe Story script and the unique way it will one day handle the metadata and keywords in “other” Adobe tools – Flash video as a future example.
Currently Adobe Story’s metadata only integrates with Adobe’s OnLocation (direct-to-disk recording and monitoring solution) tool. As an example when a scriptwriter writes a script in the future those written lines of dicey dialog, exotic locations, gee whiz props, products and services (think Apple iPhone and a cell phone carrier like AT & T) will all have a life of their own way beyond the written script. The written words in the story will someday “travel” into other Adobe tools and technologies such as: Adobe Premiere Pro (tapeless digital editing), Adobe After Effects (titles, animation and visual effects), Flash (online video and animation) and Soundbooth (audio editing and speech to text). Again and to be clear, this technology is not implemented in any Adobe tools in this first version of Adobe Story other than Adobe’s OnLocation tool, but is being considered for future releases of Adobe Story. As an aside check out this demonstration of Speech Search Technology for a peek at how written words and metadata will be used in this fashion more in the foreseeable future.
Looking forward, keywords from your script once in these Adobe tools (along with imported technical metadata from cameras, audio devices and other gear) could one day (we’re not there yet) trigger external content, web pages, other videos and ads (Google AdWords and AdSense ads as an example) and much more while people watch and interact with the exported content from Adobe tools.
Using Adobe Story as a foundation for creating digital stories along with the stories related audio, video, photos and illustrations metadata may make content much more searchable in the future by search engines too. Adobe Story may have a profound effect on how digital media of all kinds will be: created, modified, tracked, manipulated, and monetized in the future including the world of Digital Rights Management (DRM).
Sneak Peek of Adobe Story’s Interface
I’ve included several screen shots of Adobe Story’s new user interface below. Please keep in mind the interface will no doubt change by the time it goes public. In a near future blog post follow up I’ll share with you an Adobe Captivate movie “how to” walk through of the tool in action – stay tuned.
Adobe Story has two main views, Projects and Authoring view. Example above is of Projects view which list all of your scripts by: title, type, page count, author and creation date.
Example above is of Adobe Story’s Authoring view. It’s here that we can work on our script on the right hand side as well as see a list of Scene Headings (Step Outline), their related Actions below them as well as cool colored “dots” which represent all the Characters that are in that perticular scene. When you roll over these dots a pop up appears with the character’s name in it.
Example above is of a main Characters name (Carter) that is in the Scene along with other dots representing supporting Characters that are also in the scene with Carter.
Example above is of a Scene/Action that can be scrolled through independently of the written script which appears on the right hand side.
Adobe Story has some great features to allow you to highlight text and change text colors
– perfect when you’re taking “notes” from the story department or Angelina or Brad. 😉
Nice touch (example above) is the contextual pop up which allows you to quicky choose a Scene Heading, Character, Dialog, Action, Parenthetical, Shot or Transsition while you’re working in Authoring view typing the script.
Adobe Story has several ways to export your blockbuster script, including as a OnLocation XML file or in Adobe Acrobat .PDF format.
Please Note: Adobe Story is not publicly available yet. When a public beta becomes available (late 2009) I will post information about it here so do check back often.
Keep an eye out for Adobe Story. I think you’ll be glad you did. Who knows, you and I may find ourselves collaborating on an educational eLearning project we wrote together with Adobe Story for your school district, or maybe even the next Star Trek movie – Beam us up Adobe Story!
Learn more about Adobe Story Here:
Adobe Labs: Adobe Story
Millimeter Magazine: Adobe Story Targets Screenwriters (video)
Richard John Jenkins