Are call sheets a thing of the past? Well, no. However, Studio Binder is a platform that is looking to modernize and improve production schedules for filmmakers at all levels. While we can be certain that this app won’t lead to the extinction of Call Sheets, the chances are good that a lot of our readers will get some use out of it, so I decided to take a closer look!
An Overview of Studio Binder
Looking at the promotional video above, we can see that their interface is nice and clean. That scores points with me, but as we all know, a clean UI isn’t much to shout about if you get the functionality wrong. Fortunately, it seems as though the developers behind the app have looked at ways of using modern technology to iron out the issues that producers sometimes face—and on closer inspection, there are some interesting features included:
- Create a contacts list
- Create projects
- Add your cast and crew to projects
- Set up and send call sheets, which are delivered via email, highlighting the relevant information contained within. Recipients can then confirm that they have read and understood the information provided
- Map integration, hospital locator, and weather reports
- Arrange cast and crew parking
- Upload and share production documents securely
As you can see, the entire app seems to be built around making life that little bit easier for producers. By showing which team members have read and confirmed the call sheet, it should help to reduce the number of frantic phone calls on set—and that’s something I think we can all appreciate!
A Hands-on look at Studio Binder
Being the inquisitive creature that I am, I couldn’t help but create a free account and explore the app. After all, videos created by the apps development team are one thing, but the first-hand experience is the best way of getting a feel for a new platform.
Creating an Account
So, I headed to the application’s registration page and luckily for me (I am lazy), creating an account was quick and painless.
Sadly, I don’t have any friends, so I had to add a made up contact! However, those of you with real friends and colleagues will find it quite simple to add them.
Let’s put my lack of friends aside for a moment and create our first project, shall we?
Creating a Project
So, I hit the create a project button. I am not sure what I was expecting at this point, but I was quite surprised when I was greeted with only two text fields to fill in. Simple!
After the project was created, I was redirected to my projects page. That’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect at this point. A list of projects. Mine only has one, so I won’t bother showing you that. Instead, let’s take a quick look around the project itself.
The individual project interface is clean and easy to navigate, much like the rest of the Studio Binder app. Choose which aspect of the project you wish to administrate from the left-hand menu. By default, you’ll be on the Talent & Crew section.
As you might imagine, this is where you add the contacts that’ll be partaking in this project. Luckily, I added my imaginary friend earlier, so I was able to add him to the project via the Existing Contacts button. The New Contacts version is very similar. I’d imagine that you also receive them as a contact outside of the project too though I may be wrong.
With a contact added, I guessed it was time to try out the call sheet functionality of the app. After all, that’s the thing we’re interested in. Right?
Creating Call Sheets
After navigating to the call sheets area via the left menu, I was greeted with an existing call sheets page; I had none so my only option was to create one. I had four options for types of call sheets to create—I opted to create a shoot. At the Giza Pyramids, at midnight. I selected a random area in Giza for the parking. If the parking location is not convenient, then I am sorry, I don’t know the area!
After setting up the date, time, location, and parking, I hit next. I was then asked to add my recipients, so I did. All two of them—myself included.
Recipients added you’re then able to customize the call sheet to your heart’s content. Add V.I.P contacts, tailor the sheet to your brand, add a general note and schedule, and add the information for local hospitals. Interestingly, the hospital locator isn’t restricted to hospitals only; I have no idea which hospitals there are in Giza so I decided the zoo would be my first port of call in a medical emergency.
You can then attach any files as necessary. Once I had customized the call sheet to my imaginary shoot, I had the option to preview the call sheet or send it. Of course, I chose to preview it—I don’t want to send any misinformation to my imaginary friend.
The preview page gives you a good insight as to how your call sheet looks. I am glad that Studio Binder decided to allow for desktop, mobile device, and email previews. It helps to ensure that your recipients will see the information they need to regardless of how they view the sheet.
Once you’re happy with the call sheet, you can send it. Alternatively, you can download the file, print your call sheet off and distribute it in the more traditional fashion. Which is the exact situation that this application is meant to streamline and turn paperless. I suppose Studio Binder had to add it as an option, but it doesn’t make much sense to me. Oh well, it is there if you need it!
Studio Binder Conclusion
All in all, Studio Binder is a smooth application with a lot of functionality. The interface is very intuitive and, unlike some other web applications out there, you won’t find yourself pulling your hair out as you watch hours of mindless tutorials and read through loads of documentation to find out how to do that “one task that should be easy.”
While Studio Binder won’t be putting an end to call sheets anytime soon, it’ll certainly be a useful tool for smaller productions that are working on a tight schedule, with a limited budget, and a cast and crew made up entirely of freelancers and acquaintances. Bigger productions may need a little more oomph in their solution, however, and Studio Binder premium just might offer that. If it doesn’t, Studio Binder do have an enterprise solution on offer but I think that is a custom development—and they’re often enterprise-priced.
One thing does confuse me, though. I’ve heard multiple people mention the confirmation element as really handy for when people don’t read the call sheet; who doesn’t read the call sheet and manages to keep their job? If anybody knows, please let me know in the comments!