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Arc Studio Pro vs. Final Draft: What’s the Right Software for You?

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When it comes to screenwriting software, Final Draft is one of the oldest and is often seen as the default choice of screenwriters. So, how does Arc Studio Pro compare with Final Draft? Let’s have a look.

At a Glance: Arc Studio vs. Final Draft

Arc Studio Pro

4.8 out of 5
arc studio logo

Arc Studio Pro is a newer player in the screenwriting software market, but it has quickly gained popularity among screenwriters for its innovative features.

Features
4.6 out of 5
One of the most significant advantages of Arc Studio Pro is its real-time collaboration tools, allowing writers to work together, making it an ideal choice for writing teams.
Ease of Use
4.8 out of 5
With an intuitive user interface, the software allows writers to concentrate on their creativity and artistry with fewer distractions.
Script Formatting
5 out of 5
Arc Studio offers a broad range of formatting options, including the industry standard screenplay formats used in movie and television production.
Price
5 out of 5
Arc Studio Pro is free forever for up to 2 scripts. For additional scripts, there is a low-cost annual payment option that includes all software updates.

Pros

Free

Proper Script Formatting

Easy to use

Real-time collaboration

Cons

Lack of production tools

Final Draft

4.5 out of 5
final draft logo

Final Draft is a well-established screenwriting software that has been around for over 30 years. It is widely used in the film and television industry and is considered the industry standard.

Features
4.5 out of 5
Final Draft is a full-featured screenwriting application. It also includes a number of features that aid in Production, such as tagging, which is helpful when creating breakdown sheets and other production documents.
Ease of Use
4.8 out of 5
The user interface is similar to that of a standard word processor, making it easy for writers who prefer a somewhat old-school look.
Script Formatting
5 out of 5
Final Draft offers a variety of formatting options, including screenplay, stageplay, and TV script formats.
Price
3.8 out of 5
Final Draft offers a free trial for 30 days. After that, a one-time purchase fee is required. All updates require an additional purchase.

Pros

Industry standard

Proper Script Formatting

Production tools

Free trial option

Cons

No real-time collaboration

No free version

Comparison of Key Features:

Script Formatting

The most important factor for any screenwriting software is whether or not it can produce a properly formatted screenplay. Both Arc Studio Pro and Final Draft are up to the task, offering many options for formatting screenplays according to industry standards.

Arc Studio Pro

arcstudio format options

Arc Studio Pro has built-in industry-standard templates for feature film screenplays and television. Additionally, it has the ability to customize the formatting, which can be handy for screenwriters who need to tweak the default settings.

Final Draft

Final Draft offers a wide variety of templates for everything from alternative screenplay formats (for example, BBC and Warner Brothers) to TV to Broadway musicals and even podcasts. If those templates aren’t what you are looking for, you can customize any elements to your liking.

Winner: Tie

Compatibility and Import / Export

Both Arc Studio Pro and Final Draft are able to import and export scripts in the Final Draft (FDX) file format. This means that if you have used Final Draft in the past, you can easily open and continue working on any of your projects in Arc Studio Pro. Likewise, if you start a project in Arc Studio, you can finish it in Final Draft.

Additionally, Arc Studio offers the option to export in Fountain and PDF, while Final Draft offers PDF and a variety of text (.txt) options.

Winner: Arc Studio

Outlining / Planning

Both apps deliver tools to help you outline and organize your story structure. Each has its own unique take on this process, but in general terms, they are similar, and for each writer, it will be a question of taste.

Both offer the standard outline view, where you can view all of your scenes at a glance and drag and drop those scenes to rearrange them.

And they both offer a more free-form “board” outline that allows you to organize your ideas. Final Draft calls this the “beat board,” and Arc Studio calls it the “plot board.”

arcstudio board
Arc Studio’s board outline view

Final Draft’s beat board is more free-form, starting with an empty space, while Arc Studio’s plot board offers the ability to start with a blank board or to use one of several templates, including a standard three-act structure and Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat structure.

Season Outlines

A unique feature of Arc Studio Pro is that it offers the ability to create season outlines for television (or web, YouTube, etc.). This can be a helpful tool for organizing long character arcs and plot lines that extend beyond a single script.

Winner: Arc Studio

Notes

Both apps offer a system to take and keep notes as you write. In Final Draft, they call this a ScriptNote, and in Arc Studio, it is called a Comment.

Regardless of the name, both apps function very similarly in this aspect.

Winner: Tie

Collaboration

In terms of collaboration, Arc Studio Pro’s real-time collaboration feature sets it apart from Final Draft, which does not offer this feature.

However, Final Draft does offer the ability to write on separate pages of the same script at the same time, which can be helpful for writers working on a team.

Another important consideration is the cost. Final Draft collaboration requires that all participants have a valid license for Final Draft. Whereas with Arc Studio Pro, collaborators can do basic editing and commenting without a subscription.

Winner: Arc Studio

Backups

Both screenwriting apps offer the ability to have your screenplay backed up automatically, but Arc Studio offers a number of advantages over Final Draft.

  • Cloud backups (in addition to local backups)
  • Google Drive Option
  • Automatic draft history (easily roll back changes)

Winner: Arc Studio

Production Tools

This is probably the one area where Final Draft truly outshines Arc Studio Pro. Final Draft offers a number of tools specifically for use when a project has been greenlit and is going into production.

To be honest, some of these tools, such as the tagging feature, aren’t designed for or used by screenwriters; rather, these are tools that will be used by the UPM or AD when breaking down a script for budgeting and scheduling purposes. That said, they are important features for some.

Winner: Final Draft

Cross Platform Compatability

Both apps are available for desktop computers (Mac and Windows), and both have iOS apps (additional cost for Final Draft), but only Arc Studio Pro is available in a web browser, making it available to use virtually anywhere.

Web Browser Superpowers

Arc Studio Pro’s ability to run in a browser means that you can utilize powerful browser plugins and extensions. For example, you can use Grammarly as you type to offer powerful grammar suggestions that go far beyond normal spell check.

Want to take it even further? How about using AI? With Jasper’s new browser extension, you can harness the power of AI whenever you need it without ever needing to leave Arc Studio.

Winner: Arc Studio

Pricing

Final Draft’s list price is $249.99; however, it is often on sale for about $160.

Arc Studio software starts with a free version and has two paid options at $69 and $99 per year.

Winner: Arc Studio

Verdict

After carefully weighing all the features and options presented by Arc Studio Pro and Final Draft, our choice is Arc Studio Pro.

Our Recommendation

Editor’s Choice

Key Features:

  • Free for 2 screenplays
  • Proper Script Formatting
  • Easy to use
  • Real-time collaboration
  • Browser and OS options
  • Clean and modern UI

Conclusion

Both Arc Studio Pro and Final Draft are great options for screenwriters, and they each have their own unique features that may appeal to different types of writers.

If you are looking for a more modern and affordable option with real-time collaboration capabilities, Arc Studio Pro is the best choice for you. However, if you are looking for a more established option with a strong reputation, Final Draft may be a better fit.

Ultimately, the choice between these two software options will depend on your individual needs and preferences as a writer.

Also, don’t miss our comparison of five of the best free alternatives to Final Draft for additional options.

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