Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Kindle adds role as script reader aid

Information Week's Mary Hayes Weier writes that 'The Amazon Kindle has landed a hot new role in Hollywood as a script-reading device.  At Lions Gate Entertainment [makers of "Crash, "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Mad Men"], instead of lugging around briefcases and satchels stuffed with 150-page scripts, some personnel are now reading scripts on their Kindles.

Executives, top script readers, and producers are among the lucky ones getting Kindles from Lions Gate's IT department, with many more employees hoping to eventually get them, said CIO Leo Collins in an interview. "We're getting heart wrenching requests almost hourly," Collins said.

This is really interesting to me.  I'll quote most of the article, as it's really quite tight and I like the way she describes it, but follow the link to the original article for things I've left out.  Weier continues:
' Because of its dimensions, the Kindle is better than a laptop for viewing scripts that follow the entertainment industry's standards for typeface and page format.  It's important not to deviate from those standards, since they let a studio exec read a block of dialogue and, based on line count, know how many minutes it would run on the film screen.

Executives have long been able to get scripts as .PDF attachments on their laptops, but a typical laptop's 4X3 display makes reading them cumbersome, since a whole page can't be viewed at once.  More typically, assistants print out PDFs and distribute them to studio execs.  It's not uncommon for a film script to run over 100 printed pages.

Now production assistants are sending .PDFs of scripts in attachments directly to registered Kindle users' email addresses that are set up through Amazon. There are fewer steps required to open an attachment on the Kindle compared with a laptop, making it as easy to read as a paper version.

Those reading scripts can also make notations about them on their Kindles. "The Kindle completely transforms the whole experience," Collins said. '

What??  I would have assumed they're using the Kindle DX but if so, no notations can be made on the PDFs currently.  With Kindle 2's, one can make notations on what would be a converted file (PDF to Kindle format) but with that model, I doubt that a full page would show on the smaller 6" screen, which would be displaying a text-reflowed version with quite fewer lines.
' Not to mention the trees and money that can be saved. During weekends and holidays, it's not unusual for Lions Gate to send out paper scripts to executives' homes via couriers. "Now we're at a place where the script just shows up on their Kindles," Collins said.

Lions Gate's use of the Kindle is more of a test than a rollout, but Collins sees the potential for the device to have a bigger impact at the studio in coming months, as well as the rest of the film industry. '
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  1. I've sent a pdf version of a script to a kindle 2 subscriber but the format comes out wonky when it's delivered. It' doesn't follow the normal format of what a script looks like. Please advise.


  2. I just spoke to a director who said that YES, the Kindle is catching on bigtime in Hollywood for script-reading, that NO, the smaller Kindle DOES NOT show the full page (an annoyance to all), and that the larger Kindle DOES show the full page and is the one that everyone is getting (but again, no onscreen edits). HTH.


  3. I forgot to respond to Robert's note. Apologies.

    Yes, the script would not show the right layout in a Kindle 2 because of the needed conversion which is seldom true to original layout.

    I hope something worked out for you.

    What I've done was to convert it to a doc file with one of the free utilities that does that - it keeps the format within a structure that can then be better recognized when converting it to a mobi file. I'm still trying, when I have time, to see which conversions do the best job.

    I do it for the DX too so I can do the usual highlighting and notes-adding.

  4. Jason,
    That has to be frustrating for them that they can't edit the PDFs on a DX.

    But for now there's no competitor - but there will be eventually. The 8.1" $400 iRex will -ultimately- allow edits of a PDF with a stylus, but that feature won't be ready when they release the iRex for Barnes and Noble. It'll be added later for no extra cost, they say.

    In the meantime, no editing will be possible. The Sony being released in December will be only 7" and even a full page would be very hard to read on that for work purposes.

    I hope Amazon is delaying the Int'l DX because they want to enhance the PDF function, insofar as editing is concerned. I wish, at least. That would solve so much.

    Thanks for the real-world info there!

    - Andrys


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