Everybody Digital, as a platform, has promise, but it is missing a handful of bells and whistles which seem essential for lasting success.
Everybody Digital is a mobile-only platform of which the goal is to extend the life of shorts. For, as creator Allen Maldonado notes, there isn’t much of a life for shorts after the festival circuit. Especially for the big two, YouTube and Vimeo, which have made monetarization efforts increasingly difficult for up and coming filmmakers. Not to imply Everybody Digital is the short film version of Netflix but, from what it seems, that is Maldonado’s goal.
Now, currently, we’ve only watched 4 productions from Everybody Digital, Tamala, Retrospect, Last Goodbye, and A Love Undefined. Those are part of the 11 or 13 that will be watched over the next few weeks. They were all supposed to be done in one week but we’ll get into that in a moment.
It Has a Healthy Selection
With a total of 68 short films (as of this post), ranging from 5 minutes to almost 20, and 7 digital series, there is a rather large selection to choose from. Which also has a bit of diversity. There are horrors and comedy shorts, a few romance ones, and even a few animated shorts. Of which, there are some which do require a premium account, which costs $7.99, but considering some of these shorts are on other platforms, but require a much more costly price, it is a good bang for your buck.
It’s a very barebones app which just has you click until you see what you like. Which can be done through either the tile interface above or by clicking the menu button which takes you to your profile, among others things. Making the only reason issue is, when it comes to trailers, those are all under the “1 Minute Films” option and you just see text. No image or even a synopsis. Also, you got to be careful with the back button because there is no prompt or warning about you leaving the app.
This Is Mobile Only
While I don’t consider myself an elitist or snob, I will say watching a short or movie on a phone isn’t the best way to enjoy it. I have a Google Pixel 2, regular not XL, and while the sound is okay, it really does push me to want subtitles. On top of that, fiddling with your display lighting is a little bit of an annoyance. Nothing huge, but it would be nice if there was a web option vs. feeling the need to buy 3rd party tools or figuring out how to use Mirrorcast, so that you can easily see and truly hear what is going on.
Unless the film is not in English, you don’t get subtitles. Which, for me, sucks since some shorts don’t have the best audio and generally, I use subtitles so I know exactly what an actor is saying. That is, versus my assumption based off what I think I heard.
You Can’t Create a Watchlist
The aforementioned shorts I planned to watch? I have them written down on a notecard because the app, despite me having a premium account and profile, doesn’t provide a watch list option. So if you wanted to marathon a bunch of shorts, you’ll have to remember them manually.
Being that this is mobile only, it means either you need wifi or else will have to use your data plan. Problem is, if your phone isn’t the fanciest or you don’t have a good signal, it will seem like your screen froze. With the only thing hinting that the short is buffering being the play bar. Yet, if that bar isn’t moving, unfortunately, you will find yourself forced to exit the short, if not the app. Leading to the next issue.
It Doesn’t Save Where You Last Was – You Can’t Let Your Phone Sleep
5 to 20 minutes isn’t a long commitment, but things happen. You can get a text, call, e-mail, or may need to look something up. Which makes the fact this app does not save where you were, at all, a bit of a problem. For then you got to seek to where you were and while the seek button works fine, if you had the issue I had, of your phone’s screensaver coming on, it means you have to change your phone settings to enjoy yourself. Otherwise, you’ll repeatedly find yourself back at the beginning.
On The Fence
You Have a Profile, But It Seems Solely For Billing Purposes
It feels like the profile feature could be useful in the future, when you can make a watch list, it remembers where you were, and get subtitles. Maybe even have it where you can rate and review pieces. But, as of now, it is purely for login and billing purposes. Which kind of stinks but this app has only been out for a little more than a year. So, like how you gotta cut short films some slack, especially of the indie variety, you got to cut the app some slack too.
Overall: Mixed (Stick Around)
I don’t advise on apps much so excuse me for using a TV category, but essentially this is something you have to stick around for. As of now, it does handles the basic goal of delivering short content. As for a lot of the things which seem like they are the norm? Maybe with more premium members and time they’ll be added in the future? Hopefully alongside better servers, if not a website where you can access the content. Maybe even download some of the premium only stuff so, if you live in an area with a bad connection, you don’t feel like you’re SOL.
If interested in downloading Everybody Digital, currently a Apple and Android exclusive, or to submit your film, their website is: https://everybodydigital.com/
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Ayala, J. (2017, October 16). Everybody Digital: A New Platform for Short Films. Retrieved from Media Village: https://www.mediavillage.com/article/everybody-digital-a-new-platform-for-short-films/
SANDOVAL, L. (2017, March 13). ‘Black-Ish’ Actor Allen Maldonado Creates The First App For Short Films. Retrieved from Essence.com: https://www.essence.com/entertainment/allen-maldonado-everybody-digital-app-short-films/