Screenplay (Macmillan) Review | Amstrad Action - Everygamegoing

Amstrad Action

By Macmillan
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #2


Screenplay is a graphics package with a difference. It doesn't just give you the opportunity to create pretty pictures but to turn them into animated cartoons as well. You can also produce a soundtrack and words to go with the sequences to make a complete film.

A booklet details all the film techniques that are used in film and TV and then shows you how to use the software to produce animation of your own. The program is split into five major sections which combine to make the finished product.

The first section is known as wordshot and allows you to put captions on the action as for a silent movie or dubbed words on a foreign film. The lettering scrolls across the bottom of the screen as the action takes place above and can be composed of up to ten 'pages'. The text can be in normal or italic face and you can change the colour, size and direction of type to suit the purpose.

Having got your storyboard and dialogue, you can create the scene in which the action takes place. This can be created with a number of graphic functions like line drawing, boxes, triangles, circles, different colours, shape filling and different thicknesses of pens. This background can be used for all the action or just a blank screen.

Now the sprites that make up the animation are drawn. There can be up to eight sprites, with two forms making up the animation. Various colours, copying and mirroring techniques can be used in producing the sprites but they are of limited size. This means that to animate large objects you have to combine several sprites to make a whole at the editing stage.

Before getting to that, a soundtrack can be added. This can be composed of up to four tunes which you can knock out on the keyboard. The notes are played off the keyboard and put together into sequences using record, rhythm, forward note and back note controls. These can also be inserted at the editing stage.

Editing is where everything comes together. You can decide what background to use, where the sprites should move, what the storyline is and what music to play. These can be combined in many different ways and for various time periods. Experimentation is the best way of discovering the possibilities with the main limitation being the ability to only record ten sequences at a time.

For a more permanent and lengthy record you can video sequences, using the RS Modulator and a video recorder to make long sequences of film. If you don't already have them though, it seems rather an expensive add-on to make. This is because, although the end result very much depends on you, the potential of the software is still quite limited. Certainly good for playing about with and, if you spend enough time, you can produce some entertaining films.

Second Opinion

This program gives you a lot of scope for creativity - but you'll really need to put in some time. It's not the sort of thing you can sit down at and get instant rewards from. Another problem is that, without the modulator and video, you won't be able to store very much at all. But it's still an intriguing package.

Good News

P. Plenty of scope for producing different sequences.
P. Some reasonable graphics and sound handling.
P. Good booklet to go with it.

Bad News

N. Animation is hardly up to Disney standards.
N. Sequences are quite short, if you don't have an RS Modulator and video.