In a series about screenwriting software, some of the main screenwriting software titles out there will contribute an article to The Story Department. We open the series with Mark Kennedy, CEO of Celtx.
“Just a few days ago, we released version 2.0 of the Celtx software.
A lot of people don’t quite get what Celtx is about. I guess people see things from their own perspective. If they are screenwriters, they see a screenwriting application, if they are filmmakers, they see a pre-production package, if they are storyboard artists, they see a media application, if they are comic book creators, they see a new tool to help them make the same. And so it goes, each person seeing in Celtx what is useful to them in their own pursuit of creativity.
Don’t get me wrong. That’s all fine by us. In fact, that’s what we hoped would happen. That people would derive their own benefit based on their own needs. We always figured that there were, are, as many different ways to create media as there are users, so we tried to make the Celtx software as flexible as possible.
Thing is, no matter how they work, whether following traditional bottom up approaches to developing their story, or employing non-linear methods, most every media creator uses a lot of the same tools as the next person. It comes down to Story – characters, a situation, and locations.
You see a lot of references these days about the trend towards “convergence”, the merging of many different media formats – film, game, audio – the re-purposing of one media format for adaptation to another format. This in our view, is only describing what has always been the case. Artists have never been afraid to try new forms; to apply, and expand their skills beyond the confines of a single type of media.
Very few, if any, of the existing media software offerings seemed to recognize that fact, choosing instead to pigeon hole users in to one type of media, and through the use of proprietary file formats, and rigid work flows, preventing those same users from expanding beyond their initial canvass.
This, ultimately, is the opportunity we saw – to provide media artists with a tool that would be as expandable as they wanted it to be. One that let them easily re-purpose their media to other formats, and re-purpose their data to other applications.
What was needed was a universally accepted tool. A platform. Whatever you want to call it. But a way for any and all media creators to use one system that supported all of their requirements and let them collaborate without worrying about data formats, and incompatible technologies. Making media is hard enough without being frustrated by files that won’t open or technologies that limit creativity.
This is why Celtx is open source and uses only open standards. It ensures maximum flexibility and a common platform that all media makers can use.
Being an open source software application, Celtx is open to anyone to integrate their own technology in to the system. Just recently, another company developing a script writing offering had indicated that they are developing a tool that ties in to the Celtx software.
That’s the whole idea. To make Celtx the default system for developing media regardless of the specific application you are using to create different aspects of their project. Once saved in a Celtx Project, the media is unassailable, re-purposeable, convertible, and sharable by all.
This usually begs the question of how do we make money from all of this? What motivation do we have to make Celtx a success (other then for altruistic reasons)?
The growing use of web services is an undeniable, and unstoppable trend in the technology business. Every company developing technology sees the writing on the wall. The future is in selling web services that augment the desktop environment.
When the cell phone industry first got going in Europe, everyone agreed (with the help of some gentle persuasion from the regulators) to a common standard. The risk was that without a common standard everyone would go off madly in all directions, balkanizing the cell phone environment in to a myriad of networks, none of which would talk to each other. The result would have been very bad for users.
Instead, an open standard was promulgated, and everyone rushed to innovate off that open standard, introducing new hand sets and new technologies to gain market share. Nokia became one of the best in the industry at being the first to market with new innovations, gaining more and more users. The rest, as they say, is history.
This is what we hope for Celtx – that it continues to establish itself as the open system for creating and sharing media. We may have invented it, but we don’t own it, any more then Nokia owns the 3G cell phone network that they have so successfully leveraged.
The new Celtx Studios is our first commercial offering based on the open standards Celtx software. It is designed to provide media creators with web based access to their media projects, including optimized archiving for sub-versions, collaboration features and the ability to create protected web Previews.
The same offering, or one similar to it, could be developed by anyone using the open source code of Celtx to achieve their goal, just like the Nokia competitor, Ericsson, has also developed new cell phone technologies that work on the same system as Nokia’s.
One open system, many offerings based on that system, all benefiting users. That’s the promise. That’s the future.”