Fade In Screenwriting App — Can it take down Final Draft?

C. E. TuckerLast updated: The Tech-Savvy Script Reader

Is Fade In screenwriting app the Kingslayer - image of Jaime Lannister

Is Fade In screenwriting app the Kingslayer - image of Jaime LannisterFade In is a screenwriting app in a world full of screenwriting apps. Where there once was only one or two big screenwriting software packages — the venerable Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter — now there are several upstarts, seeking to usurp the de facto Final Draft throne.

Enter Fade In, created by General Coffee Productions. This screenwriting app rakishly steps into our limelight not as a copycat, but as a would-be kingslayer to Final Draft. Take note ye humble scribes: for a chunk less than its biggest competitor, Fade In offers a strong alternative for screenwriters of all stripes. But does it stand a chance of taking Final Draft’s place as the most popular screenwriting app on the market?  Let’s dive in.

Fade In – First Impressions, Design, User Interface

We begin with the basics. Upon opening Fade In, one is greeted with a sleek design, and the name of the software fading in on the screen, because of course it does. (Why name it Fade In if you’re not going to go for a sweet splash logo?) It’s a cooler effect than it has any right to be and this feeling of pleasant surprise doesn’t stop there.

When looking at Fade In, it may sound dramatic, but it’s fair to say that this screenwriter immediately experienced a calming sensation, due to the dark gradient background that contrasts gently with Fade In’s white writing space. Of course, if calming dark gradients aren’t your bag, Fade In’s user interface can be brightened up, or the theme changed to one of three additional presets that come standard.

"Is your script ready? You get one shot with agents and producers. Make it count."

Fade In – Distraction Free Screenwriting

Most screenwriters can attest to the destructive power of distraction on productivity. The choice to place all the screenwriter’s essential tools and presets on the right instead of a menu bar at the top (Final Draft’s default configuration, for example) is telling, as far as where Fade In has decided to plant its flag. This panel on the right of Fade In includes the list of screenplay formatting elements (SCENE HEADING/SLUG, ACTION, CHARACTER, DIALOG, TRANSITION, etc.)

At first, I was skeptical about how Fade In places these elements and buttons, as it did seem like excessive noise within my field of vision. However, as I worked with the screenwriting UI longer, I discovered I liked having all that stuff over there. It helps because my eyes didn’t have to constantly trek upwards to see what I was doing. It was a smoother writing experience for me, and prevented me from having to constantly check what sort of element I was on (action line, dialogue line, etc.). This freed me up from having to constantly re-read what I’ve already written. For me, and many other writers, that constant glance can be deadly to inspiration, flow, and/or momentum.

Fade In’s Bag of Tricks for Screenwriters

Moving past the basics, Fade In comes with the requisite arsenal of organizing, revising, and file-formatting tools. These tools aren’t revolutionary as Fade In doesn’t try to storm the Bastille, so to speak, but the quality of the parts make for a strong sum total.

Fade In is jammed with screenwriting tools you’d expect from full-package screenwriting software like index cards, layouts, synopsis, and notes, as well full support for production (colored pages, revisions, breakdowns, reports, etc.), but it also comes with a ton of other features, such as:

Dialogue Tuner — allows you see all of a character’s dialogue in sequence, to make sure it’s consistent. Very handy. This feature is unique to Fade In, if I’m not mistaken.

Import files from a variety of file-types that includes Final Draft (.fdx or.fdr), Celtx (.celtx), Adobe Story (.astx), PDF(.pdf), and more

Export your work to PDF, Final Draft, RTF, Fountain, and various other text file types

Collaboration options for co-writing virtually

Unicode Support — for writing in languages that might not be English.

Linux version — for screenwriters who eschew both Mac and PC.

Open Screenplay Format — an open source file format for your scripts. (Futureproofing!)

Overall, it’s a robust combination that rivals all screenwriting software on the market.

Fade In’s Intangibles

Finally, we arrive at the stuff that’s hard to put a metric to.

Unlike Final Draft, Fade In has yet to crash on me. I’ve kept it open for about a week and then, on the seventh day, I put it through its paces with opening, saving, formatting, import/export, and any other task I could think of to try to get the software to crash. It didn’t crash.

I cannot say the same for my Final Draft installation which frequently throws in the towel around page 89. Nothing disrupts a flow like losing pages of writing. While I cannot prove Fade In won’t crash eventually, I can attest that its performance so far offers more surety for my screenwriting process than anything Final Draft has to offer.

Updates are another intangible which Fade In holds the high ground in. While Final Draft’s updates are thorough, Fade In’s updates are nimble, and happen far more often. Some are essentials, others are stuff you wouldn’t miss unless you’re writing your screenplay in Japanese, but the speed and ease with which Fade In allows updates to happen gives it a slight lead over Final Draft.

Can Fade In beat Final Draft for market share?

Yes. For three key reasons: 

  1. Price
  2. Streaming services
  3. Fade In reads, edits, and exports Final Draft files seamlessly.

Fade In is $79.

Final Draft asks $129 for their educational version and $249 for their standard version. Now, admittedly, Final Draft it may have a lot of great features, and may have come to dominate the market for screenwriting software, but as more and more potential screenwriters get used to the idea of paying $1.99 or $9.99 for apps in their mobile app store, those halcyon days of paying for expensive boxed software suites recede ever more into the distance.

If Final Draft is targeting the working screenwriter — the screenwriter who can afford $249 — that’s understandable. If I’m not mistaken, there are, at last estimate, some 10,000+ WGA members, and a good chunk of them are active and writing, with varying degree of activity and varying degree of compensation.  Basing your business model solely on those writers isn’t a dumb idea. It’s actually pretty smart.

But there’s a world of new screenwriters coming up — screenwriters for whom $249 isn’t anywhere near to being a possibility. And there are thousands more of them than there are currently working writers.

Couple that with the fact that content demand has expanded exponentially due to the explosion of streaming services, and you’ve got a very volatile soup of potential customers that will likely break towards lower-end prices for screenwriting software — especially if the lower-end prices come attached to high-end quality, as does Fade In.

And then add into the mix that Fade In opens Final Draft files flawlessly, lets you edit them flawlessly, and lets you export them flawlessly so your writing partner, who’s still using Final Draft, can take your file and continue to work in Final Draft, flawlessly.

Bottom line: It may be premature to call Fade In a kingslayer just yet — Final Draft still reigns as the mainstream choice — but with its stability, ample toolset, and its fresh design, Fade In gives both amateur and professional screenwriters a solid, fully-loaded alternative screenwriting app at a much more attractive price. 

5 Comments on “Fade In Screenwriting App — Can it take down Final Draft?”

  1. Been using it for a couple of years and absolutely love it! Glad to see that it may be catching on big time at last.

  2. I have been using Final Draft for decades [paid for 2 full versions] and been hating it for just as long. At first I though it was a Windows/Mac issue as I am a Windows user- I like having more control than Mac’s give you…but no, Final Draft is just very clunky & counter intuitive and crashes regularly. FD also seems to hate A4 regardless of me telling it I am not a great fan of Letter – this may stem the from the fact that FD has nowhere to set page size, so it has to take it’s cue from your printer settings [even though these are all set to A4]. This is ludicrous.
    As well as drama, I also write technical scripts – so need to use symbols and different fonts etc…which is incredibly difficult and time consuming or impossible with FD. Also, there is no way of adding a watermark when saving to a PDF; also no way of saving any additional ‘Title’ pages as part of the PDF [except on my desktop which runs Windows XP!].
    In a minute I will go back to work on an existing script and very soon be reminded of other things I hate about FD but forget to mention here…
    – so having read all your comments I am now minded to try FadeIn Pro and look at Trelby.

  3. FadeIn also 64 bit where FD 10 isn’t so maybe a 64-bit paid-for FD for Mac users when Mojave arrives?

  4. Hi All-
    I am not a professional writer (not yet), however I have been pretty active in the software testing and development field. I am a very harsh judge of software written for a specific task, when it does not meet the requirements, I fail It. NP!

    I use screen writing apps to create help manuals, QRL lists, directories and other technical docs, because, well, I HATE WORD! and really love the formatting features of screenwriting apps. I also love to write short stories using screen formatting standards and toy with stop motion and graphic novel shorts, so screen writing apps are an excellent tool for me.

    When I was new to the screen app market- I BOUGHT EVERYTHING! and gave them all a fair chance at winning my heart. I’ve been into this for over four years now and have used Movie Magic the longest, then upgraded to Script Studio over a year ago and at the same time bought Fade In when it was released on Android.

    As of Nov 15, 2018 I have the latest versions of Fade In, Final Draft and Script Studio and a few other applications that never made the cut. I have also recently run a few updates… so, yes, everything is updated as of today. I use a PC Laptop, PC Tablet, Several Android Tablets and three phones.

    All the software mentioned runs fine on my PC’s so far and Fade In runs on the PC and Androids (LG, Samsung).

    Straight out of the box, Fade In is setup and a pleasure to use PC and Androids- FACT!
    Script Studio is PC only and has given me licensing issues since it first install (all machines same issues). SS is very clearly laid out and offers quite a bit more bling than Fade In and has awesome NOVEL and DOCUMENT formatting (VERY SWEET!) and musical , TV and of course Screen. HOWEVER, the damned licensing issues plague me still and I’ve been hosed over and over by not being able to do what I want. In fairness, the SS support has been actively trying to resolve this issue, so as of today it has worked for 18 hours w/o locking up. WTF??? :-/

    Final Draft as you know better than me- is the Old Guard’s sweetheart, for some reason they love this application, and well, it is pretty cool and V11 does offer a lot of new improvements and it has not crashed in a week (fingers crossed). I do love the fact that NOVEL and DOC’s are better streamlined so using this as a NON-SCREENWRITING app won’t piss it off and change your formatting to some bizarre form. I must say this is a very robust app and efficient use of space. You can turn off the icon at the top, so you have a pretty clean slate and the NAVIGATOR to the right (Like Fade In) is movable/sizable better. A real drawback for me with FD is that the text is not ZOOM-ABLE, the TIMELINE is, but the text is not. This is a real deal breaker after a few hours.

    Overall, for the money and capabilities (testing only PC and Android) I would say Fade In does what most folks will need done for the price!

    I do very much love the bling and power Final Draft and Script Studio offer, however for stability (MAJOR SELLING POINT!!!) and just open the app and start rockin’, Fade In is my choice.

    Thanks,
    Joe

  5. Hi All-
    In my recent review I made a mistake regarding Final Draft and the text/font size is missing from the ribbon (icon section at the top).

    Well, yes, it is misleading saying only ZOOM STORY MAP, which of course zooms the “story map” not the text size… DUH!!!

    The real text size scaling default is down at the bottom right of the monitor window and has a slider and a drop-down for precise sizing.

    Sorry,
    Joe

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