Final Draft 9 has been so long in coming, that it created the vacuum for its competition to exist in. In my opinion, foremost among the competition is Fade In, so I thought I’d do a side-by side comparison. You can do the same, both pieces of software have demo versions available.
First off, installation. An install program is an install program, but Final Draft picks up early points for country-specific setup. All it does is set a default for paper size and dictionary, but it’s something that Fade In needs me to adjust for every new project.
The next step was importing an existing project. Final Draft is still content to sit at the top of the tree and demand everyone plays with its file format, now updated. The only import functions are TXT and FDX. This in comparison to Fade In:
So, what’s new? Well, on the Mac version, Final Draft can finally go fullscreen. Hardly innovative, every other Mac screenwriting software has had it since it was an option. But finally Final Draft has caught up. I’ve not tried it myself, but apparently the Windows version still doesn’t have full-screen editing.
One useful new feature in Final Draft 9 is Script Notes. This can be used to add specific, script specific notes, edits and comments, but also more general script notes, which could be used for references, loglines, synopses, treatments etc. This is very useful, and currently missing from Fade In.
While not new, Final Draft’s index card and scene navigator are both currently superior to that of Fade In. The ability to directly edit and manipulate the index cards just seems slicker on FD (if not up to Scrivener’s standards) and the scene navigator has the option of scene synopses display.
Another new addition to Final Draft is the character navigator, which now facilitates tracking of characters and changing their names throughout. Fade In has had this for some time, though doesn’t have any additional data, like arc beats, available. It does, though, have the same facility for locations, not present in Final Draft. Personally, this scene/script meta data is something I’d like to see expanded out substantially, taking a leaf from Adobe Story’s book:
Runtime, editable, characters, including non-speaking parts, tags, synopses, budget, camera shots… This is the level of metadata I’d like to see. Useful for everyone? No. But you don’t have to use it.
Finally, there are the non-software related elements, the first of which is response. I’ve never had to wait long for the Fade In team to respond to a message, regardless of medium. I’ve never had a member of the Final Draft team reply. Fade In is constantly being updated, while Final Draft has kept us waiting for years for next to no substantial improvements. And price? Fade In costs as much as the upgrade from FD8 to FD9.
So, in summary, for my money I’m going to be staying with Fade In.