Product Review: doddle & doddle Pro

Community, directory & callsheets for the video production industry.

We’ve all got networks we’re already plugged into for connecting with other industry pros & colleagues – including social media, blogs, forums and email lists – but what about connecting with new pros, crew and services in your area – or better yet, finding someone to fill in an empty spot on a shoot on location outside your regular area? How about connecting with everybody in your production with an easy-to-create call sheet you can send out and update on your mobile iDevices? That’s where doddle Pro starts… and it’s just the beginning…

What is doddle and doddle Pro?

Think of it like “Yelp!” for the video production industry. There are many features in doddle and doddle Pro that are brilliant – such as the production directory where you can keep your colleagues’ contact info at your fingertips (once they sign up for at least the free listing service), the mobile apps and the call sheets. As we drill-down into the doddle website we can see what all the services and features do, how they connect and how much potential this service/software actually has. We can see the potential this site/service has and what’s in store for the members as they continue to add new services and develop parts of their site more.

The doddle website home page… free directory search and listings

The doddle website:

You’ll notice several options at the doddle website (http://doddleme.com) that are specific to the video & film production industry. Several features of course, require you to sign up with their service, such as call sheets and your account overview, but reviewing the Newsroom, blog and podcasts are available to anyone to review. The doddle Jobs & Classifieds sections are still in development.

Signing up with the doddle service is free, just to be listed in the directory and includes two free categories.

The Newsroom is full of current information in all areas of the film, video and entertainment production industries. I see this as a good “first check” page each morning as I drink my coffee and avoid the social media noise. Drill down by topic and you’ll discover a current feed of relevant info and news items – free from unrelated garbage. There are segments for industry event coverage (like NAB) and UK news as well. The blog has several contributing authors with relevant topics and the movie reviews and movie trailers are up to date as well. The “doddle Buzz” appears to be a replica from the blog feed.

Start your day perusing industry-specific news items in the Newsroom

Signing up for the Free Directory Listing:

It costs nothing to join the directory – simply sign up and fill in the required contact info and select two free categories to be listed under. This is how people find you by geographical location and category. There are three main category headers you can sign up for: Vendor/Company, Crew & Talent. This is the ONLY way that new companies and individuals alike can be added to the directory. You can’t sign up another company or individual for them – say your favorite coffee shop, caterer or hotel – they will have to sign themselves up. While this seems peculiar, the doddle developers explained to me that this is intentional to grow a “qualified” network that isn’t full of useless and unrated/unwanted entries. Every person or company that signs up with doddle has to have a single direct contact. The entries aren’t merely populated by Google or any other service. Nor does doddle claim to be a replacement for other search services or directories. This may take a bit to wrap your head around at times – especially when searching for a service from your iPhone or iPad out in the field close to your current location – but we’ll get into that more later in this article. The bottom line is, this directory is a closed network that you want to get your trusted colleagues and services to sign up for and connect with each other when you need them for a production or project. It’s not intended to be another social media network, but a qualified directory. Plus, like “Yelp!” listings, each individual or service can be rated by other users – so if you’re looking for say, a sound guy for a production you’re shooting and there’s one in your area, you can see if any of your colleagues that you already know and trust may recommend them or not. This is what really separates doddle from your basic “Yellow Pages” type of directory.

Complete a search for crew, talent or services in your area or an area you’re traveling to

doddle upgrades, paid premium services and doddle Pro Online:

As any professional niche directory listing service, there are premium listing options and additional services available to paid members. Bold type listings, top rankings and Premium Listings are a few options you can add upon signup or add to your account at any time. The Premium Listings option gives you the chance to enhance your directory listing with a 300 word bio, upload photos, videos and audio demos, PDFs and more. You can also add up to 16 keywords and phrases to get higher ranking in the searches in the directory. You can add other items a la carte such as additional category listings.

You get two free categories to choose from with your free listing – more with a Premium Listing and a fee for each additional category you select

Adding additional services and options to your listing can provide the viewer with more information about the services you provide and get you higher ranking in the search results

The doddle Pro Online service allows you to manually enter your own contacts in your account directory, share internal notes, GPS to any location on the call sheet, sync directly with yoru iPhone, print PDFs of yoru call sheets and view location shots and talent photos. The current price for doddle Pro Online is $49.99/yr.

One caveat about the directory listings, is there are more “populated” geographical regions than others in the directory right now. For instance, I currently live/work in the San Francisco Bay area and if I look up certain services like hotels or crew such as a Casting Director, the nearest results show up in the Los Angeles area. This is changing however, as the word gets out about doddle and more of our colleagues and service providers opt in and sign up for the free/paid listings in the directory.

But there’s a lot more than just directory listings – the ability to make Call Sheets and send them out to every crew member and service company you add. Plus the doddle Pro apps for mobile devices keep you connected even out in the field.

Continued on next page…


Call Sheets (the coolest feature)

Everyone that I’ve spoken to that have tried doddle can’t say enough about how cool the Call Sheet feature is. I created a sample with a few of my colleagues to see how easy it was to use, and was surprised how intuitive the UI was but also how powerful it is.

You fill out all the typical info you would on a call sheet – project name, client, location/venue, schedule, etc. and add crew members from the directory. You can also manually add other crew who aren’t listed in the directory, as well as other services and vendors plus production notes and scheduling notes. Each crew member can be categorized so you can access your entire production crew with a single click.

Setting up a call sheet and organizing it for a thorough run-down of your production

Selecting the location in your call sheet will bring up the option to preview a pop-up map and will even give you a projected weather forecast for the day of your production, so you can prepare accordingly.

The location tab of the call sheet will give you a map and weather forecast for the day of production

Once you’re done creating your call sheet, you can either view/print the PDF directly or email it to your entire crew/vendors in the call list or select individuals to send it to. Each email addressee will receive a copy as PDF in their inbox or be notified at their doddle account where they can review it. You will will receive a Call Sheet Email Delivery Report email to confirm all the recipients successfully contacted.

A confirmation of all the recipients of the call sheet delivered
Video overview of the doddle Pro apps and call sheets

doddle Pro apps

There are doddle apps available for iPhone/iPod/iPads and Android mobile devices. The doddle Free apps you’ll find in the App Stores are ad-supported and run banners, while the doddle Pro versions (approximate $9.99 ea) are ad-free. I’ve got the doddle Pro apps installed on two devices – my iPad (Wi-Fi only) and my Droid. While my iPad can call up my account and view/edit/send call sheets, the Android version doesn’t seem to access call sheets at all. That’s important to note for crew members using the app on their Droids. However, the PDF call sheets sent out via email can be read on virtually any device.

doddle Pro on the Droid

The iPhone/iPad app allows you to review and fully edit and customize/update your call sheets to make adjustments to the schedule, location changes or crew changes at the last minute. You can also review your schedule and all venue/crew info remotely while on location to keep track of your production throughout the day.

Call Sheets can be opened, reviewed and modified from your iPhone or iPad

Overview:

I believe the doddle website (http://doddleme.com) and doddle Pro app are a great tool when implemented fully with all the features and if/when the directory gets more fully populated by region, it will be much more useful to the video production community. Of course that can only happen when people sign up. Yes, the fees for upgrades and premium services do add up, but if you can get your colleagues a detailed call sheet and updated info it’s worth the price on your first successful production. I’m looking forward to seeing how doddle evolves in the future – and keep an eye out for a doddle call sheet in your inbox soon!

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Jeff Foster is a published author of several how-to books and training videos in the motion graphics, animation and video production industries and is an award-winning video producer and artist. Visit his web site to learn more about his training methods, tips & tricks at PixelPainter.com


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Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster has written and contributed to several books and magazines, and has been producing motion graphics, photography and creative design for major corporations, television and film for more than 20 years. See his full bio and content at http://PixelPainter.com