What’s new in Story for IBC 2013

Since NAB, the Adobe Story team has been hard at work developing new features that make it easier than ever to get your scripts into production. Story’s screenwriting tools are among the very best—but the ability to create shooting schedules and production reports right from your scripts is what really sets Story apart.

When you need to get a script into production, Story can help you work more efficiently. 

Story Free includes just our screenwriting tools. To use our collaboration, scheduling and reporting tools, you need to subscribe to Story Plus. If you’re working on a large production, and need to coordinate the work of writers, schedulers, script supervisors, and directors, Story becomes even more powerful.

The good news? If you’re a Creative Cloud subscriber, Story Plus is included in your subscription, and you already have access. All you need to do to get started is point your browser at story.adobe.com, and log in using your Adobe ID.

The big news for Story at NAB was a new and far more flexible approach to breaking down a script, which we call scene-level tagging. If you haven’t had a chance to play with this powerful feature yet, you can read more about it here. At IBC, we’re highlighting a number of the new features we added in our May and September releases. Let’s take a look.

Word count

You can see the total word count for a script at the bottom of the Authoring view; if you click on the total word count, you can see the number of words of dialogue.

word count

 

 

 

 

Sticky Notes

By definition, scripts are highly structured, but sometimes you need to add some free-form annotations—so we’ve introduced the new Sticky Note feature. To add a sticky note, choose Production > Insert Sticky Note, then move it to where you want it by dragging the note’s header. Click the note to edit, move or resize it, then click away.

Here’s a sticky note in edit mode….

sticky note 1

 

 

 

 

…and here it is on the page. To edit or move the note, just click on it.

sticky note 2

 

 

 

 

Revisions enhancements

Color-coded revisions are a key part of the pre-production workflow, and we’ve made some practical enhancements here as well.

Sometimes, changes to a revision take several days to complete. Now in the Manage Production Revisions dialog box, you can choose whether Story displays the date a revision was started, or the last date that the revision was edited.

manage revisions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also now automatically lock dialogue numbers when you start a revision.

Scheduling enhancements

Scheduling is one of the most powerful aspects of Story Plus, and we’ve introduced a number of enhancements here that make it even better.

On most productions, scripts change up until the cameras start rolling—and keeping your shooting schedule in synch with those changes can be a nightmare. Story can help make sure you don’t waste valuable time on set.

A couple of the changes we’ve made help make better use of screen real estate. You can now change the relative font size for a schedule, so you can fit more on a page (either on-screen or printed) or make the schedule easier to read from a distance. Also, you can collapse or expand days on the schedule, which makes it easier to drag and drop strips between days that aren’t adjacent.

Sync schedule enhancements: We also have changed some of the behavior when you sync a schedule. You’ve been able to choose which properties you want to sync for a while now–which is handy, because you care about different things at different points in the process.

sync schedule 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, the list of changed scenes only includes scenes that have changes to the properties you selected—which makes it easier to track what’s happening or isolate a particular kind of change.

sync schedules 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you hover over a scene in this dialog you get a quick overview of what’s changed. Finally, you can now export all of the changes if you want to track them or review them later.

Compare schedules: If I have two units shooting at the same time, this means I can identify any conflicts for sets or actors—so I can adjust the schedule before there’s a problem. From one schedule, click the Compare option in the menu bar, then choose the schedule you want to compare it to. You can then review any conflicts, and even export the results if you like.

compare schedules

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having all of this information available makes it easy to stay on top of what’s changing, and to keep schedules in sync as scripts evolve.

Sharing and integration

Working collaboratively is at the heart of the value Story offers, and we’ve made improvements here as well. And of course, I can use the Manage Shared Projects option to unshare a project with anyone at any time.

I can now see at a glance whether someone I’ve shared the project with has accepted the invitation or not. In the screenshot below, the asterisk indicates that the invitation has not yet been accepted.

share projects

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

XML Export

We’ve also extended the ways you can work with the data from your Story projects. You can now export list, scene property, or schedule data as XML, so you can use the data in new ways. From the Reports list, choose one of the XML options (at the very bottom of the list), then choose which documents in that project you want to include data from. This makes it possible to take the data from your productions in entirely new directions!

XML export

 

 

 

 

 

 

Importing and exporting lists

Finally, our newest feature is the ability to import and export any of the lists you maintain in Story—locations, characters, actors, tags, and tag items. Now it’s easy to share them between productions, and with other Story users. Just click Manage Lists in the menu bar, and take it from there.

export and import lists

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exciting times

As you may have heard, Adobe Story was nominated by our friends at ITV, and has been shortlisted for the prestigious IBC Innovation Award for Content Creation. We’re looking forward to the Awards ceremony on Sunday!

Adobe Story can help any production run more smoothly, and if you’re a Creative Cloud subscriber, you already have access—plus you can use the Story panel in Premiere and Prelude to log into your scripts from within those apps as well. Make your next shoot easier—check out Adobe Story today!

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Adobe Story & Adobe Creative Cloud—the awesome twosome!

It is with great pleasure that we announce the availability of the latest and greatest edition of Adobe Story through Creative Cloud! What’s more—if you are a Creative Cloud subscriber, you already have access to Story Plus and all the rich features that come with it.

We’re very excited about this release and have been looking forward to it for a long time. Exciting new versions of all our other creative application are also being released today.

Access Story Plus through Creative Cloud

Accessing Story Plus through Creative Cloud is easy:

  1. Go to http://creative.adobe.com and sign in with your Adobe ID.
  2. Click Download Center in the topbar.
  3. Click the Get Started link for Story Plus. Story Plus launches and displays your current projects if any.

Learn more about Adobe Story

If you’re interested in learning more about Adobe Story, look no further than this Help landing page. If you have questions that are not addressed in the documentation, feel free to post them to the forum.

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Story update now available—May 22, 2013

We’ve just pushed live another exciting update to Adobe Story. This release takes collaborative script authoring to the next level. Coauthors and reviewers can now insert sticky notes into a script. They can also drag a sticky note to any location within the script. Cool, isn’t it?

Pic1

We’ve also added numerous other features to simplify and streamline your workflows:

  • The Sync Schedule dialog now lists changes only for the properties that you’ve chosen to view.
  • You can edit tags that you created.
  • You can export the resource conflict results between two schedules as HTML (.htm). You can then open the exported results in word processing tools, such as Microsoft Word.
  • User interactions for several dialog boxes have been simplified:
    • Manage Scene Numbers
    • Manage Dialog Numbers
    • Manage Camera Shot Numbers
    • Manage Scene Durations
    • You can export project data (lists, scene properties, and schedules) as XML.
    • While working with schedules, you can choose a font size—small, medium, or large.
    • Layout improvements while printing schedules.
    • You can choose whether you want to display Revision Start Date or Last Modified Date in the header and footer for production revisions.
    • You can see a list of users with whom a project is shared. Invitees who haven’t yet accepted a share request are listed as well.
    • When you click the word count in the status bar, you can view the dialog word count in the current script.
    • Several critical bugs have been fixed in this release.

Pic2

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Script break down with the new scene level tagging in Adobe Story

 We’ve added a major new feature in this release, along with dozens of smaller ones. In this blog post, I’m going to walk you through using the new Scene Level Tagging functionality in Story Plus. This post covers the other features and changes we’ve made.

Adobe Story has had the ability to tag individual words in a script—either manually or automatically—for a while now. And that was great if the item you want to tag is explicitly mentioned in the script. But what if the thing you need to tag is implied, rather than explicitly called out? Previously, you had to add that item to your script, or wait until later in the process to capture it. With Scene Level Tagging, it’s a breeze.

Another advantage of Story’s new approach to tagging? You can now capture info needed to break down your script right in the script itself, and it all flows effortlessly into your schedule. This makes it easy for one person on a team to break down a script scene by scene while someone else works on the schedule—another way that Story’s collaboration features can help teams work more efficiently.

One other thing worth noting: You can now define your own custom categories for the tags you want to use, rather than slogging through a list of 40+ items (many of which you’d only need for certain genres of content). And  Tag Lists you create can be assigned at a project level, so they’re available for all scripts in the project.

Here’s a quick walkthrough of how the new feature works, to help you get started. Note that you have to be a Story Plus user to see these options—a great reason to upgrade.

In your Project panel, click the Manage Lists button on the toolbar. In addition to managing Character, Set, and Actor lists for your project, you can now create and edit Tag and Tag Item lists.

use Manage Lists to set up your tag lists

The Tag list contains the tag categories you want to organize any specific tags into; tag categories for Props, Set Dressing, Make-up, Wardrobe, Vehicles, and Sound Notes would be logical entries here. It’s worth thinking a bit about which categories you want to track, and designing this up front.

tag list db

The Tag Items list are the things you’re likely to use over and over again, and anything you enter here can be auto-filled as you type, which saves time. Tag items might be things like a marble table lamp, hot pink lipstick, a blue school backpack, a red and white polka dot scarf that’s a character’s signature item. Unlike the Tag List categories, Tag Items can be edited on the fly or added up front; you can also add tags to the scene without including them in the project-level Tag Items list.

tag items db

Once you’ve created your Tag  and Tag Items lists, assign them to your project. As with all of the other list types, you can assign the same lists to multiple projects.

Open the script you want to tag, then choose View > Tagging Panel to reveal the panel where you’ll apply tags. The top of the panel now has a section called Current Scene Tags, which will be empty when you start. As you add tag items, they’ll appear here grouped by category.
Navigate to the scene you want to tag, and then start adding them items you want to associate for that scene. You can add tags either by click on the Add button next to the Tags listed, or you can click on the Edit button at the top of the panel. In the Add Tags dialog box, select the Tag category you want to add items to, enter text (up to 32 characters per entry), and then click Add. You can open or hide items within a Tag category, and you can move from category to category easily. When you’re done, click Close.

Add Tags db

Move to the next scene and break down that scene in the same way.

Because Story covers both screenwriting AND scheduling/production planning, all of the tags you enter here can be viewed in your schedule, and pushed out to some reports.

For example, the new Bible report (requested by a major customer in Ireland) provides a scene-on-a-page summary of your production, which is handy to have on set for everyone involved in a shoot. If you’ve tagged a scene, each Tag category is listed in the left column, and the Tag Items you added for that category are listed on the right—making it easy for wardrobe, makeup and set dressing teams to get prepared and stay organized.

We’re really excited to be delivering this new capability—we think it’ll help your productions go even more smoothly, so you can focus on making in-the-moment creative decisions. 

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Story update released today, Feb 13, 2013

Today, we released another update to Adobe Story. It’s been a little more than 2 months since we last updated, and we’ve been extremely busy!

The big news in this release is a completely revamped approach to tagging that offers a vastly more flexible approach to breaking down a script.

scene level tagsNow, you can tag anything you like in a scene—and your tags flow through to your schedule as well as many of our production reports. This is a huge improvement, as our previous implementation of tagging required the actual words you tagged to be explicitly present in the script. This worked fine for anything that was explicitly mentioned—for example, “SUE DROVE UP IN HER BRAND NEW MINI COOPER”—but didn’t help at all if the items you wanted to tag weren’t mentioned. For example, you could tag “mess” in “CHRIS’ APARTMENT WAS A MESS, BUT JO FOUND A SPOT TO PERCH” but what if you wanted the props department to have stacks of sloppily stacked notebooks and papers, a sinkful of dirty dishes, and a heap of dirty laundry? Well, as of today, you can enter whatever props you want to be associated with a scene. We’ll be posting another blog entry that goes into more detail, but the bottom line is that this is a big leap forward in making Adobe Story a fantastic tool for creating breakdown reports. You can get a sense of how it works in the screenshot to right.

There are loads of other new features too. We’ve added a new Writer role that Story Plus users can assign in shared projects. What? Isn’t Story all about writing? Well, yes and no. Story offers BOTH writing and production scheduling/management tools. In working with some of our large broadcast customers, who use both parts of Story, they’ve asked for a way to keep writers focused on the key task of writing great stories, without having to delve into (or even see) schedules, reports, and the scripts written by other writers working on the project. If you’re a writer working on your own project, you’ll be the project’s owner. If you invite a collaborator to work on the writing with you, assign them the Co-Author role. And if you’re working as a freelance writer on a large production that has built a structure workflow around Adobe Story, don’t be surprised if you’re set up as a Writer.

We’ve also made loads of small improvements across Story, many of which are only relevant if you’re using Story Plus (which as you know is included in a full Creative Cloud membership). Here’s a partial list:

  • Clicking on the blue cross to add a character or set to the Character or Set lists associated with a project now opens the relevant list instead of just adding the item; if you’re adding a new set, you’re required to specify whether it’s in a studio or on location.
  • You can now manage shot numbers (wait—you didn’t know you could add camera shots to quickly create a shooting script? It’s super cool! Learn more here) with the same flexibility you have for dialogue and scene numbers.
  • Speaking of camera shots—you can now create camera cards for just a particular day, as well as for just a particular camera or just studio or location scenes. Or mix and match!
  • Thanks to our collaboration with Ireland’s RTÉ, we now have a TV template designed specifically for their productions (called Irish TV Screenplay). This new template format has a number of cool features, and one of the most useful can be turned on for any template: you can choose to have the first Action element of each scene be treated as the scene’s synopsis. If you choose this option, that element automatically populates the Synopsis field in the Scene Properties panel. Why is this handy? Well, then you have a synopsis include in your schedule as well as any reports that support the field—and you don’t have to do a thing.
  • We’ve added a whole bunch of new reports as well. My favorite is the Bible, which is a scene by scene summary of a script, including any scene level tags you’ve added. <<screenshot>>
  • You can now specify template defaults for whether the From and To boxes at the start and end of each scene now include info about previous and upcoming camera shots. Use the Edit > Template command and choose the option on the General tab.
  • When you enter time info for a scene, you can now have that info used for all subsequent scenes in a script.
  • We’ve added new options for sorting schedules. You can use the View > Story Order option to temporarily resort a schedule into Story order; when you use this view, options like breaks aren’t available—to use them, just switch back to the Shooting Order view.

We’ve also redesigned the landing age at story.adobe.com to make it more clear that Adobe Story is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, and we’ve added an in-app news feed so we can make sure you get the latest info about Story.

I’m sure I’ve left a few things out—but we sure hope you enjoy this new release. Let us know what you think by adding a comment below.

 

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Story update released today, Dec 5

Today another update to Story went live. This one has a number of significant features that we think will make your work easier.
To start, log-in times should now be faster. In the past, we gathered information about all of your projects when we logged in‚ which could take some time if you’ve been doing a lot of work. Starting today, we only get information about the project you were last in, because most of the time you’re only working on one or two projects. There may be a slight delay when you move to a project you haven’t opened in a session—but overall, you should see faster log-in times.
Another significant change is that Character elements can now include multiple characters, so you can specify that multiple characters are speaking the same line. On some productions, this isn’t a big deal—but in some cases, you may need to track how many speaking scenes a character appears in, and this feature makes it easier to do that. To add multiple characters to a line of dialogue, enter the character names separated by “ / “ (space/space; don’t use the quote marks!). What’s cool is that after the second space, you can use auto-complete to fill in the character’s name.
Finally, you can now display the Series Name and Program name in your Headers and Footers. To customize what’s in your Header or Footer, choose Production > Modify Header or Modify footer, then select different options for the Left, Center, and Right fields. Where do you set the Series and Program names? Choose Edit > Script Properties, then click Edit Production Information. In the Production Information dialog, click Edit, and you can enter additional information about the Series Name, etc.
We’ve also made some other enhancements: You can now specify speaking/non-speaking characters at a set level, and you can display or hide studio/location and scheduled date in the script. And, as we always do, we also addressed a number of issues reported by our users. If you encounter something untoward in Story’s behavior, please let us know by submitting feedback here.

You can always access the latest release notes right in Story: click on the Home icon, then the Release Notes link on the right edge of the page (see below). Or, access the full Adobe Story Help online.

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Adobe Story Plus—now available for $9.99USD/month

We’ve got great news! As of December 3rd 2012, we have dropped the price of Story Plus from $24.99 USD/month to $9.99USD/month (with comparable price reductions in all other regions). You can purchase a Story Plus subscription here.

Why such a big change? We want you to use Story Plus! We think it’s the best possible solution for anyone making media, particularly if you’re working on scripted films, television, and other types of video content. The writing tools in Story are great, but the real power comes from integrating your scripts into a powerful scheduling engine that can also generate extremely useful production reports. Script changes? No problem—all you have to do is synch your schedule, then refresh your reports, which is a lot faster and easier than making all of those changes manually. Story Plus is unique in that it combines screenwriting with scheduling, and we’re finding that once folks start using it, they’re hooked.

Here’s a quick link to the feature comparison page that highlights the differences between Story Free and Story Plus: http://adobe.ly/OSjzlc

If you’re currently a Story Plus subscripter paying for a month-to-month subscription, you don’t need to do anything—we’ll just be charging you less every month going forward.

Did you purchase an annual subscription to Story Plus? We’ve got you covered too. While we will no longer be offering the pay-up-front annual subscription option, any current annual subscriptions will run their course as expected, and you don’t have to take any action at all. And because we appreciate your early vote of confidence in the future of Adobe Story, we’re extending all of the Story Plus annual subscriptions by 6 months at no cost—which means that you’re effectively getting the new lower price for the duration of your subscription.

We’re excited about Story’s bright future, and we’d love to have everyone using Story Free tap into the power of the feature we have in Story Plus. More to follow! And as always, you can create a new Story Free account or log into your account at https://story.adobe.com.

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Shooting scripts, made simple

Those of us in the US are starting to think about Thanksgiving, which makes me think about holiday movies, which makes me think abut shooting scripts. Sad but true.

Story Plus is unique in the market in that it combines screenwriting tools with advanced production scheduling. One aspect of this workflow that most people I talk to don’t seem to know about is the fact that you can use Story to very easily create detailed shooting scripts. You can add camera shots to a script using both Story Free and Story Plus, but the feature’s real power is unlocked in Story Plus, where you can create schedules and reports that capture and communicate the shot lists to everyone on the set.

Here’s the workflow in a nutshell: in the script, you can right-click anywhere and add a camera shot. Over and over and over. And for each camera shot, you can add quite a bit of detail, including which camera, the camera’s position, and any notes about camera movements or framing. Here’s what this looks like—I’m using one of our TV templates here, which are designed to accommodate camera shots in the layout—if you use the Film template, your script will get reformatted to make room for these new elements—fair warning!


Once you’re done adding shots, you can see a scene-by-scene list in the Scene Properties panel. Find them visually distracting? Choose View > Camera Shots to turn them off (or on). Don’t want them numbered? Choose View > Numbering > Shots, and make sure the option is unchecked. You can also turn Camera Tops & Tails on and off using the View menu, so on any given page you can see what the previous and upcoming shots are—very handy for shooting scripts.

 There’s much more to say on this topic, but let me point you to a new video on the topic until we return….

As a reminder, Story Plus is available as part of every full Adobe Creative Cloud membership (which you can subscribe to for a limited time for just $29.99USD/month and get access to ALL of Adobe’s creative tools), or you can subscribe to Adobe Story Plus (for $180USD/year or $24.99USD/month). If you’re using Story Free (which has all of the core tools you need to write scripts and screenplays), you can create three schedules—which should be enough to whet your appetite. You can always sign into Adobe Story (or create a new free account if you don’t already have one) by navigating to story.adobe.com.

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Generating production reports from your scripts & schedules

One of the things that sets Adobe Story Plus apart from other pre-production tools is the way it integrates writing, scheduling, and reporting. If you’re primarily a writer, this may not be a huge deal to you. But if you’re one of the crew of people responsible for turning a script into an actual production—a director, AD, script supervisor, producer or one of a dozen other titles, depending on where you work—chances are you’re starting to sit up and take notice right about now.

In our last blog post, we introduced some of the features around scheduling in Story. But we din’t really delve into one of the key advantages, which is that if your script changes (and really, when doesn’t it change at the last minute?), you can simply refresh your schedule. That’s cool.

What’s even cooler is the fact that between the script (or block of scripts) and the schedule (which of course can be for a single script or a block of related episodes being shot together), you can automatically generate a whole bunch of reports. Really useful reports, like shooting order scripts, camera cards, call sheets, and so on. With Story, the process is easy. And keeping the reports up to date is equally simple: if the script changes, just refresh the report.

Here’s a short video that introduces some of the basics. There’s a lot to cover, though, so we’ll likely dive deeper into some of the reports in more detail in later posts.

As a reminder, Story Plus is available as part of every full Adobe Creative Cloud membership (which you can subscribe to for a limited time for just $29.99USD/month and get access to ALL of Adobe’s creative tools), or you can subscribe to Adobe Story Plus (for $180USD/year or $24.99USD/month). If you’re using Story Free (which has all of the core tools you need to write scripts and screenplays), you can create three schedules—which should be enough to whet your appetite. You can always sign into Adobe Story (or create a new free account if you don’t already have one) by navigating to story.adobe.com.

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Expanded: scheduling with Adobe Story Plus

Quick update on Nov 12: added a second video that shows how to compare schedules in order to catch any conflicts in Adobe Story Plus.

Even Hollywood blockbusters have to work with finite resources—whether it’s the star of the show, a location, or crew availability—and chances are that whatever production you’re working on has to work within many, many more constraints.

Adobe Story Plus includes powerful built-in scheduling tools that can really help you make the most of the time you have available. This video goes beyond the basics, and shows you how to customize your schedule, sort scenes within a schedule, and make sure the resources you need are available when you require them.

The ability to seamlessly integrate your scripts and the schedules required to produce them is key to what makes Story so unique. For complex productions, you also need to be able to compare schedules to catch any potential conflicts, such as a cast member needed in two locations at the same time, or two different crews that want to use the same set at the same time. This new video introduces how this works in Story Plus. But a word of caution—your script has to include timing information for each scene, otherwise the conflicts won’t show up.