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4 Online Organizational Tools Every Producer Needs

As wonderful as it is to watch a masterful film play out in the theatre or comfort of your home, rarely do audiences consider the weeks, months, and years of elaborate work it takes to produce. Usually, in the lengthy timeline of a film’s cycle from the final screenplay draft to the big screens, the person with the longest-running responsibility is the producer. It’s a widely known fact that producers play a vital role in bringing screenplays to fruition, but that’s not all; even after a film’s release, producers must keep on top of contract negotiations, revenue, and residuals, among other things. With so many responsibilities, it’s imperative for producers to stay organized, as they are essentially the highest-ranking project manager on a film. To support that all-important project management aspect of producing, here is a list of the best online organizational tools every producer needs:

StudioBinder

Cost: Scheduler – $19/month, Indie – $29/month, Professional – $49/month, Studio – $85/month

This software was made for the 21st century producer and filmmaker. It allows you to streamline your production management with an array of clever features, including contact management, stripboards, call sheet builder and monitoring, shooting schedules, and cloud storage. As well as providing interactive access for any team member to contribute — which is vital given that each film has so many contributors, many who are likely to be scattered around the world at different times — StudioBinder provides a modern, user-friendly interface that every beginner can navigate through with ease.

Yamdu

Cost: Development – $5/month, Academic – $9/month, Advanced – $49/month

A direct competitor of StudioBinder, this software has also tailored its features to suit the producer and filmmaker, also offers a financing and deliverables feature. Having the dedicated role of working out a budget and getting the film financed, every producer will need a budgeting and financing program at one point or another. Usually done on Excel spreadsheets, having an integrated program within Yamdu for your budget will make your life a whole lot easier.

Evernote

Cost: Basic – Free, Plus – $24.99/year, Premium – $49.99/year

Unlike the previous programs, Evernote isn’t targeted specifically to producers and filmmakers, but still offers some fantastic organizational tools. Some of its features include brainstorming whiteboards, checklists, meeting notes, reminders, and project-tracking timelines, to name a few. There’s more, too. Say you’ve just had a lunch meeting with the director — a creative, visually-driven individual, who likes to jot or draw things down on a napkin. With its multi-device syncing ability, Evernote allows you to take a photo of any notes or doodles and upload them right away on your smartphone. You can also record and upload audio and video for those great ideas that pop up at obscure moments.

Trello

Cost: Basic – Free, Business Class – $8.33/month/user, Enterprise – $20.83/year/user

This software is made for those who prefer visualizing the progress of a project. It uses a card-based layout for every idea, to which you can then make any changes or adjustments as you go, like adding notes or attaching files, categorizing, color-coding, or creating a task list. The simple, left-to-right format of the cards allows for a visual timeline to track the production process whilst also giving you the ability to sync other platforms like Google Drive into the app. It’s also collaborative and can sync to any device.

Learn more about film, television, and media production at the New York Film Academy.

Best Free Game Engines and Development Software

Is the only thing keeping you from transforming your great game idea from dream to reality your wallet? Well then, you will be happy to hear that there are excellent free / open source software packages in every discipline you need to build a great game. Sections include game engines, 2D art, 3D art and animation, sound design, and project management. Everything on the list below is used by professional game developers.

Best Free Game Engines – Unity and Unreal

One of your first key decisions as a game developer is which game engine you will use. Game engines provide you ways to quickly implement core game functions like physics, rendering, scripting, collision detection, and much more without the need to custom code them. They provide tested, reusable components that allow you to build more quickly and focus on making a great player experience.

The most prevalent platforms used by professional game studios today are Unity and Unreal. Amazingly, both platforms are now free to develop in. Both are great and do many of the same things, so deciding between the two comes down to user preference.

#1: Unity 

Our platform at NYFA Games is Unity for two reasons.

Firstly, Unity gives developers to build functioning games with little coding — e.g. through use of drag and drop features. However, it also has the full power of object oriented programming through scripting languages with the most prevalent choice being C# (pronounced “C sharp”).

Secondly, Unity allows developers to write their programs once and output to the top 25 game platforms including Windows, Mac, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Oculus Rift, and many more. Have a look at Gamblingapps.com to find out which gambling apps make most money and developed on which software. Games made with Unity include: “Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft,” “Deus Ex: The Fall,” “Assassin’s Creed: Identity,” “Temple Run Trilogy,” “Battlestar Galactica Online,” and many more.

#2 Unreal 

Unreal was created for it namesake (the Unreal franchise) and is a top of the line game engine through and through. When using this tool you are given the full force of a AAA tool. Games developed with Unreal include “Gears of War,” “Borderlands 2,” “Batman Arkham City,” “Bioshock,” “Mass Effect 2,” and more.

Honorable Mention: Amazon Lumberyard

Lumberyard is a relative newcomer to the game engine space. It is a free AAA engine that is deeply integrated with the Amazon Web Server (AWS) platform and Twitch.

All of the engines we recommend are fully documented and come with a slew of tutorials online.

Best Free 2D Art Software – GIMP

Compelling art is the make-or-break point on whether a new player will be willing to try a new game.

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is the open source version of the industry standard graphic design program, Adobe Photoshop. GIMP is a freely distributed program for image authoring, graphic design, and photo manipulation. Use GIMP to start your game art. Check out a world of tutorials on the web.

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Best Free 3D Art and Animation Software – Blender

MAYA, MAYA, MAYA — is all everyone says these days when it comes to 3D asset creation, and for good reason! Yet Maya’s price tag of $180 / month leads some developers to the great, functional open source alternative, Blender.

What GIMP is to Photoshop, Blender is Maya. It is your one stop shop for 3D modeling, texturing, rigging, animation, and more.

Special note for those who have a .edu email address: MAYA reduces its price tag to $0 for three years! All you need is a .edu email and you can hang with the best of them. More info here.

Best Free Sound Design Software – Audacity

With the emergence of virtual reality and augmented reality, the demand for great sound design is stronger than ever. This is especially true because of the need to communicate location in VR and AR to create an immersive experience. The open source leader today is Audacity

This software is being used by game developers, musicians, podcasters, filmmakers, and other creative people. It is approaching its year 10 anniversary and going strong, so you know it isn’t going to disappear any time soon.

Best Free Project Management Software – Trello

There are many free online collaboration tools. Trello is our current favorite because of it’s ease of use, flexibility, and ability to integrate other platforms such as Dropbox and Google Drive. Trello also lets you run AGILE development and SCRUM with a little know how. Check it out here.