Monday, February 10, 2014

Scriptnotes on Final Draft

Scriptnotes 129 (via Guy English):

Craig Mazin And so I was a very early adopter of Final Draft. And I stayed with Final Draft through the revisions. And along the way I got disillusioned. And I’ve become increasingly disillusioned. An particularly disillusioned with what happened with Final Draft 9.

[…]

Marc Madnick For 10 years we provided free phone support. 10 percent of the people — remember now, I run a business; we have to make business decisions. Okay? We’re in business not to go out of business. — 10 percent of people would call up when it was free with no clock and talk and start asking about their printer not working and how do I get Microsoft Word. I mean, things that had nothing to do with us.

[…]

Marc Madnick Take all the bells and whistles out of everybody’s product, all the competitor’s products, okay. Take them all out. What it comes down to is pagination. Period. A minute a page. Break it down in eighths. Right, you guys are directors as well, okay. So, we are trusted because it’s the proper pagination. You get a script, it’s 120 pages, you can estimate it’s going to be approximately 120 minutes. That’s really what it comes down to. Does it paginate properly?

[…]

Marc Madnick We made an iPad app called the iPad Writer. It took, ready for this, two years. And you’ll say to me, “Marc, some of these apps that are much less expensive, by the way some of them are even free, they told me they took two, three, four months. Why does it take Final Draft two years?”

A year and a half of that two years was spent making sure that your script of 119 pages was 119 pages there. And also on your IBM, your Windows, I’m sorry, look at IBM, I’m old school.

[…]

Marc Madnick The biggest one was about 10 years ago Apple, even though we’re a developer and they love us and we have friends over there, they don’t tell you anything. 10 years ago they made you do Carbon language. And you’re familiar with this. And you had to go down there and strip it, you know, put Carbon in.

I’m not a techie, by the way. But, now they come to us three, four years ago and say, “You need to do Cocoa.” That means a page one rewrite for us. What does that mean to the customer? Well, version 8 they came out with MacBook retina displays. Guess when we found out that our font wasn’t really looking as crisp as it should? When somebody came to our office with a MacBook retina display.

It’s not like we got a call, or they mentioned it to us. We didn’t even know until it happened. So, what do we have to do? We have to spend a year and a half rewriting our software so it works on not only today’s latest Mac operating system […]

2 Comments

Fascinating interview.

Easy to mock, but I actually have a lot of sympathy for Madnick. As the interview makes clear, their real function is interface with the studios. If the studios are happy, then if you are in their small vertical market, you simply your life by using their product to make the studios happy. Thus, they're not Quark.

And the product doesn't suck that much. It just works. Always has. (And compared to Quark, their customer service practices are stellar.)

Sure, it'd be nice if they made a better product, but then again, I'd be even happier if Apple made a better OS than Snowy.

(And, hell, they're a much better Cupertino ecosystem citizen than Quicken, no? On that count, they're probably even better than Microsoft.)

Apple Refugee

As someone who used to do development for OS X but now lives a healthy life over in the GNU/Linux world I can really feel for these guys. Developing for Apple platforms sucks, honestly. Having to rely so badly on a hostile company like Apple is not viable. No long term commitment, more or less nonexistent developer relations, Radar. Can't say that I miss any of it.

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