Do You Doddle? If You Use Call Sheets, You Probably Should
Mobile Imagination's interactive production guide, call sheets and enhanced listings—for phone and online—keep freelancers within orbit of area film and TV productions
Back in 2010, Mobile Imagination released the first interactive production guide iOS App on the market. Drawing from existing production guides and film commissions around the world, the company reorganized available databases into an easy, searchable and free App called "Doddle" that connected those on location with area freelance crews, services and talent. The following January at Sundance Mobile Imagination unveiled DoddlePro, a $9.99 premium version of the App that lets users upload headshots and video and adds interactive digital call sheets, social media and keyword search to the mix. It went on to win a technical award at Cinegear 2011 and the BBC is now testing DoddlePro, available for iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry, on several productions for a wider rollout. The latest piece of the Doddle suite is a power-user online version ($50/year) that lets desk-bound staffers stay synched with their crews on location. I talked to Mobile Imagination's founders, Jim Robertson and Rich Kwiat, to find out exactly what it means to "doddle" on location, plus what's next for the evolving set of tools.
Robertson, an owner and producer at All Ways Entertainment in South Florida, says he came up with the idea for Doddle out of necessity. "I wanted to solve some mobile challenges that people have in the field," says Robertson. "After talking to Kwiat, an iOS developer and also his old friend, "we came up with a platform to take care of that. It really wasn't enough for us to have a mobile directory, either. What we really wanted to do was to take that data and integrate it into our workflow when we're in the field."
Although those working in New York or Los Angeles rely mostly on word of mouth and the usual channels for their talent and crew, indie productions shooting anywhere else know that smartphone-enabled source list that includes GPS coordinates of the local police department, area boom operators or even baby wranglers, is indispensable. With the newly enabled interactive call sheets, says Robertson, "you can easily integrate any of the data from our directory with one click, and everything about that person or resource flows into that call sheet." The App or online version of DoddlePro also generates traditional call sheets as PDFs, but after first pulling in and syncing data across call sheets used on the same production. "We're just trying to make it easier to work, wherever you are and the call sheet, to us, is the foundation to any shoot in the field," Robertson explains. "You could start working on your desktop, then go do a location scout, and you can now finish your call sheet while you're doing your scouting. You can even take pictures on location and add them into the call sheets."
Mobile Imagination has also recently created a news division and expanded at NAB with bloggers covering the show. Rich Kwiat says that while the online version scales beautifully in Safari on the iPad, the company is at work on a native iPad version that will be released within the next few months. The team is also developing plug-ins for several networks in the U.S. that want to integrate DoddlePro with existing infrastructures.
Though the interactive call sheets could be used by just about any production, the production directory does have its limits. Because Robertson is based in Florida, Doddle's listings skew largely in that geographic direction, though the Los Angeles and New York listings are expanding. The international listings are also limited to English-speaking countries, which the BBC relationship no doubt helped flesh out: United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) and South Africa. Canada is coming soon. It would be nice to see places with exploding production communities like India, Croatia, Iceland, Spain (particularly Barcelona and Madrid), Italy, the Netherlands and South America (i.e., Santiago, Chile, and Rio) added to the subcategories. The resources needed to add translation tools to the app may be an obstacle, though I'm sure Robertson and Kwiat are working on it.
Grouping your contacts by "Favorites" is already easy in DoddlePro. The Add to Contacts, Add to Favorites, Text Message windows, in fact, mirror those on an iPhone. DoddlePro also has a "Take Me to This Location" that pops you over to Google Maps (for now) with the directions already programmed. The social media aspect of the App is still in its infancy, and when scrolling through various listings in different locations, I noticed that not many were rated or included comments. "We're constantly expanding, but I think we've succeeded in building a Yelp-like experience that gives you geo-located resources right where you're standing," says Kwiat.
Doddle's custom features have already solicited some interesting uses outside the film and video market. Robertson says he's seen someone move an entire office within the app. "You could plan your kid's birthday party or your wedding," he says. "Basically," adds Kwiat, "If you're organizing human beings in the field, you can customize this product to meet your needs."
For more information: www.doddleme.com