The floor is busy at ECCC, flooded with people on early Sunday afternoon. A large board over to the side of the Dodles booth is plastered with character designs, which people vote on with red heart stickers. A narrator on a screen nearby tells all passers-by about the burgeoning platform of animation that hopes to launch sometime in the near future: Dodl.es .
Zeb Pirkey, VP of Marketing for Dodl.es, has high hopes for the product. “It’s an app where you can draw and animate from your mobile device. So you can create memes, games, comics, stories all from your phone and tablet.”
Visiting ECCC was a trip for them, the company being out of Wisconsin, started three years ago by Craig Doriot. Pirkey referred to him as a serial entrepreneur; his last tech company was Loan Sifter, the funds from which are being used to launch Dodl.es. “Wisconsin is one of the hardest states to raise funding in,” Pirkey noted. Even so, the early advertising does have a very straightforward edge to it.
Dodl.es does have a paid content system – so this means that it will have microtransactions available for certain backgrounds and so on. Right now the early adopters for the program’s Beta are mostly teenage girls from 13-18, but there are quite a few possibilities for the program.
“You see animation tools out right now that are almost always desktop, and they’re really expensive, or they’re really difficult to use, and they’re not for the average consumer. The average consumer wants to do a quick doodle, animate it, and share it with friends and family,” Pirkey mentioned. Most mobile device animation software (I’ve tried a few in the past) are frame-by-frame animation – you may be able to port an image from frame to frame with copy-paste, but the control comes with a trade-off: you have to be certain of what you’re doing. Pirkey describes it as “draw, skip, draw, skip”.
When it came time to create the program, one of their early development teams tried to convince the creators to do a Java base program, but the founders at Dodl.es pushed back. Hard. For Dodl.es, they’re trying a different approach than most mobile applications: building it on a game engine, similar to a 2D rigging system, with certain movements built into the code, as well as certain actions with the scene. It also has an auto-lipsync function, which is really kind of nice. (Lip syncing animations can be daunting if you haven’t tried.)
The uses that the team sees in the future for Dodl.es includes voice acting, storyboarding/webcomics, memes, and other shareable social content. “We want it to be inclusive for everyone’s creativity,” said Pirkey. “Even coders and developers who want access to the back end to develop open-source content. In the app there’s a marketplace, where artists and animators can license and sell content to users.” Pricing and preference will be based on the artist.
So, say, if you have an unbranded character that you don’t mind releasing for profit, you might consider adding it to Dodl.es under the expectation that it could get used for ANYTHING and associated with ANYTHING. The use also has a pretty wide range, I could see people using the program in ways similar to Bitmoji, or for things like simple How-To animations in the buisness-professional world.
Once Dodl.es hits a full launch, they hope to have two versions of the platform – one that is open for social platforming like Tumblr and Instagram, and another version that’s closed off from interaction, maybe a .edu site or a purchasable classroom option for teaching environments.
The app is currently in beta, but the Indie creator marketplace is scheduled for Fall 2018, near when the app launches.
The official launch is scheduled for April 2018.
Does this sound like an interesting platform for you as a writer or creator? Are you a fan of bug-testing new programs? Pirkey invites you to check out the beta site at http://dodl.es/pr. Also, check out why Dodl.es supports Autsim Awareness here: http://dodl.es/autism-awareness/