To say I was working on “A Robot’s Dream” would be the same as to say that models look wonderful. A huge, and I mean HUGE, exaggeration.

Although I managed to find a cool idea for the story (this once in a while lucky ray of brilliance you mistake for talent) there are at least three other things stacked up in my queue right now – finding the appropriate genre for my short movie, for example.

But there is another thing that won’t let go of me since a long time: which way is the best to design, not write, your screenplay?

There are many ways to design, not write, you screenplay. You can write on cards, you can write on paper, you can write in you mind and so on. In essence you could say that there are two ways to design your story: the real world way and the digital way.

Analog?

For me, the real world didn’t work quite well. At the beginning I wrote down my important story events on cards so I could rearrange them. Yet, as I hit the ten cards mark, it became more and more problematic. The reason is that I wanted to arrange them in a good way but either the area was too small or something else in the way. And the floor was a non-idea either as it is not very comfortable.

A normal sized sheet of paper? Didn’t work either for one obvious reason: you cannot arrange your writing without tearing the sheet apart and ending up with small “cards” again.

A board to write on? Sorry, nothing I would use in a thousand years.

A board to stick the cards on it? This is so let’s-hold-a-meeting-and-do-something-cool. And at the same time, the problem mentioned above still exists. If you ever tried to arrange a number of cards in a good way on a board you know what I am writing about. It is pure hell on earth, downsized to fit exactly one room.

Digital?

On the other hand, the digital way of living (also called World 1.2) is not the best thing either.

Writing your stuff in a document in Word, OpenOffice or something else might be flexible as little-hell but for me this worked only to write down everything that popped into my mind. It is not great to move your plot events around.

I know of some tools with which you can in fact try to design your story. Dramatica is a well known example. But the budget of my project is small, so this is a “good idea, is nice to have, see you way later.”

Digital…

But who could call himself a movie maker if he couldn’t think outside the box. Because by doing this there come two tools to mind that might help: the much loved Photoshop and the much hated Powerpoint.

Although they are so far from each other, both tools digitally combine the best of both worlds, cards and flexibility. In both tools you can create “cards”, “write” on them and start to move them freely on as much space as you need.

Some might prefer Photoshop (who doesn’t?), but the unbelievable thing is that Powerpoint seems to work way better with digital cards.

The reason for this amazing realization is rather simple: in Powerpoint you can draw a simple rectangle with a background and a border, and immediately write something on it. No big time wasted. Trying to accomplish the same goal in Photoshop is no biggie either, yet it involves way more steps which take too much time if you have an awesome idea. Moving around your cards is more complicated in Photoshop, too. As your card is a layer and your text is a layer, you either have to reduce them to one (which destroys the chance of later changes), add them to a group (which are too many steps) or select them again and again. In Powerpoint you click and hold and move. End of line.

Although I really love Photoshop as the best image editor on the world this app is way too complicated and powerful for simply writing and moving around a digital card.

It will be interesting to see how everything develops. Will it work in some weeks? Will both of us fit together? We will see. In either case, it is by far the best experience I have so far with “moving cards.”

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