2 East 8th Production’s Picks for Best Video Production Software, Tools, and Services heading into 2021

Here at 2 East 8th Productions, we are nerds at heart and we love tools and toys that help us make our projects and our client’s projects the very best.  We just couldn’t help ourselves when diving in and picking the best video production software, as well as other tools and services we use.  Enjoy our picks and let us know what yours are in the comments or contact us directly!

Best Free Screenwriting Software

We cover this topic in more depth in our earlier post looking at all the best free screenwriting software options. Having screenwriting software you feel comfortable with and enjoy is vital.  While you may choose to pay for a full version of something like Final Draft, which is an industry-standard, unless you’re working in Hollywood it isn’t always necessary.  We’re a fan of using free software where we can and we’ve been happy for years with the free scriptwriting software options available.

Our opinions haven’t changed that WriteDuet is still the best and most robust free option available.  Its extensive selection of add-ons and widgets is what draws us in and the collaborative focus keeps us using this fantastic bit of free software. It’s easy to use and collaborate on and exports to a number of popular formats.  Naturally, you could pay to unlock even more features, but this one gives quite a bit for a free script software.

This one has grown on us as a completely free screenwriting software that acts as an escape from the more feature-rich option above.  Sometimes we just want to get down to screenwriting and not be distracted by all the side options and that’s where Trelby comes in.  Since it’s also not reliant on a web connection it works well for those more remote screenwriting sessions where the internet isn’t an option.  Trelby does an excellent job of offering a clean and straightforward screenwriting platform with no fuss and entirely for free.

Honorable Mention: Grammarly

Grammarly isn’t just for screenwriting, but as much as we utilize this in our screenwriting it has earned a spot here.  Sloppy grammar and spelling will distract the reader from even the best-written screenplay, so unless you’re a master get some help.  Grammarly is great because it’s a fantastic and powerful solution in its free form that applies to so many different writing applications.  From keeping our screenplays free from spelling errors to tightening up our blog posts Grammarly is a lifesaver.

Best Productivity/Organization Software and Tools

Keeping things organized is absolutely key to so many aspects of life.  If you’re running a small business or just trying to keep your projects together there are a ton of options to help keep you on-task or organize those tasks across collaborators.  We’ve chosen a few standouts we use as our best productivity tools for video production purposes, but they could be used in almost any setting.

It’s been very hard for us to beat the utility of Google Workspace, formerly known as G-suite, for not just our video production, but our small business needs as well.  Subscriptions are reasonably priced and you get a lot of great features.  The enhanced cloud storage on Google Drive has made sharing large video files a breeze for our team.  Docs, sheets, calendar, and chat are vital to our business organization.  From composing blog posts to shared calendars and spreadsheets we use this productivity software more than any other.

For visually-oriented people like us, this simple little app does a great job of bringing our team together on our wide variety of projects throughout their stages of progress.  It has a simple index card style format but has great adaptability to serve many purposes.  What we’ve enjoyed about Trello the most is how it keeps our business side aware of what’s going on over on the creative side and vice versa.  It also has tie-ins with other productivity software like G-suite to keep the entire team informed.  Trello features tons of utility at the base level and you can of course be upgraded to add features and plug-ins to maximize its use for your business.

Best Video Editing Software

We’ve said we like to use free software when we can, but this is an area we feel you can’t really get around paying for.  The differences between what’s offered for free and these programs are too vast to really overcome.  If you’re just getting started there’s nothing wrong with trying out free video editing software, but once you want to move forward check out one of our choices here for the best post-production software./

This is the big one.  It can be expensive, particularly when you factor in the entire Adobe Creative Suite, but this is the best video editing software out there.  It’s the industry standard for a reason and, since it’s cloud-based, collaboration is simple.  It has a depth of powerful features that are really unmatched, and add to that the best in-program options for basic color grading, audio mixing, and VFX  around and you’ve got a lock for best video editing software.  Adobe Premiere Pro offers the best all-in-one editing software to help you bring your story together and is worth the price tag.

Final Cut Pro is a potent and awesome video editing software choice.  It has a one-time purchase price so it’s far easier on the wallet and is much more user-friendly.  It lacks the depth of Adobe Premiere Pro, but it’s a great starter kit for learning the craft of editing as you’ll notice many of the same techniques and features appear inside of Premiere once you make the jump.  We’ll often use this on our creative projects that we want a quick turn-around on to achieve that professional look.

Best Video Production Services

Gear Rental

Gear rental makes our list of best video production services for its multifaceted usefulness.  As filmmakers it takes time and a fair amount of money to have a fully outfitted kit.  Even if money weren’t an object — which let’s be serious it totally is — buying a piece of equipment for a single project or use rarely makes the most sense.  Having places where you can easily find and rent the right tool to help you elevate your project is essential.  Also being able to rent your equipment out in between projects for a bit of extra income doesn’t hurt either.

Both of these gear sharing rental sites share a ton of similarities and we find both useful.  As Indie Filmmakers the ability to rent a piece of equipment to supplement the gear we own helps keep costs down. The variety and depth of cameras and all manner of equipment available on both sites is massive and if you can’t find it on either site that may be a sign.  It can also be a great networking tool. When there isn’t a pandemic happening, you are meeting another filmmaker face to face. Take advantage of that. 

The other side of both of these services is the ability to rent your gear out and have your investments turn into a bit of passive income.  Both sites offer baked in insurance for your precious equipment, but due diligence on your part is required.  If you’re going to rent your stuff out do be sure to check that everything is there and in working order when you get it back. The same goes for when you’re the renter. We recently started listing some of our gear on KitSplit so feel free to check out our gear.

This isn’t software and it’s more of a local Chicago service, but our experience with Magnanimous has been too great to leave them out.  Magnanimous has a huge selection and always has the gear we’re looking for.  They’re patient and even geek out with us on gear when we’re in there so we feel like we’re among friends when we work with them.  They’re also fair, have reasonable pricing, and if you’re looking to outright buy gear you can do that too.  We love promoting local businesses and Magnanimous is really a Chicago based treasure.  Their video production gear based blog is also very instructional and worth checking out, too!

Videography Software and Apps

Shotlister is one of our favorite video production apps to use on set.  Its customizable layout allows you to organize and schedule your shoots and quickly move things around and send it out to your team.  It keeps you up to date on where you are and if you’re going to make your day in a handy and accessible way. One of our favorites, Ryan Connolly of the Film Riot Podcast, swears by it and we do too.  It’s also completely free on iOS which is a strange and very welcome surprise.

I think most independent filmmakers can agree that renting equipment is awesome when you get to use that super high priced camera you’ve been drooling over.  What happens though when you get there and the controls look about as clear as a David Lynch plot?  That’s where Digital Cinema Pocket Guides comes in.  A collection of thorough pocket-sized printable guides, also optimized for mobile and tablet, with all the need-to-know info on the most popular cameras in use.  We’ve gone to their guides a few times and find them extremely well made and so much better than a manual.  With ever-changing camera options, they’re always adding more guides and are open to suggestions so we foresee using this well into the future.

Best Video Production Software and Tools we’re excited to check out

Writing this post revealed to us there’s a host of awesome video production software out there we haven’t tried or haven’t used enough.  Here are our picks for the software we can’t wait to get more acquainted with.

An Emmy award-winning app that replicates a director’s viewfinder on your phone.  Used by industry luminaries, we can’t wait to try this out on location scouts and camera tests. 

We’ve talked about and used the screenwriting software portion of StudioBinder, but it’s really so much more than that.  In terms of organizing every aspect of production, StudioBinder has it all and we look forward to test driving it on future projects.  They have a pretty good blog too so check that out.

With the cameras on our phones becoming infinitely more powerful every year it seems the FiLMiC app harnesses that power for shooting and editing films.  From Zac Snyder to Steven Soderbergh, the pros are in and we are too.

A really intriguing app from one of the programmers behind WriterDuet and acclaimed writer J.V. Hart.  It analyzes your script for its character development and emotional story arc and guides you in fleshing it out and completing your story.  It’s unique character-driven guidance really appeals to our story-telling mindset.

We mentioned how we prefer a visual style when it comes to learning and Prewrite is a screenwriting software that delivers a visual style to our writing. It’s packed full of neat tools and analytics which we also love to play with. It also certainly doesn’t hurt that it comes from good ol’ Chicago either.

What do you think?

We hope you find our picks for best video production software useful because we know all of these things make our lives on set and at the office immeasurably more efficient.  While you don’t have to use a dozen apps and software to make great films this stuff is all about increasing the quality of life for our crew and for us.  Don’t forget to leave us your picks in the comments!


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Just doing my best to live in this Fantasy World

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