Tag Archives: Shotgun Software

Shotgun 7.6 adds analytics feature set for VFX and animation

Shotgun Software has released Shotgun 7.6, the latest version of its cloud-based review and production tracking software, featuring a new set of analytics and reporting tools that give studios the ability to visualize key production information, keep a close eye on the progress of their projects and make business-critical decisions quickly.

The new normal is shorter turnaround, tighter budgets and growing creative demands, so studios need to be efficient, identify business issues quickly and adjust where and how resources are being used during production. Production Insights in Shotgun provides studios with an overview of the health of projects as well as the ability to dive into the details to see where time and resources are used, so operations can be streamlined and better decisions can be made.

“Our new Production Insights features help Shotgun customers answer urgent and costly production questions such as: Are we going to hit our deadline? How much work is there left to do? Where are we struggling?” explains James Pycock, head of product management for Shotgun. “Having access to these tools out of the box gives everyone instant at-a-glance visualizations of how and where they are spending time and resources.”

Shotgun Production Insights include:

– Analytics: The ability to apply production data in Shotgun to optimize how resources are used, plan ahead for tight deadlines and budgets, and accurately compile bids for upcoming projects.
– Data Visualization: In addition to the existing horizontal bar chart in Shotgun, there are now new graph types, including pie charts, vertical bar charts and line charts.
– Data Grouping: Display data is now available as stacked (see picture) or un-stacked bar charts to visualize in even greater at-a-glance detail.
– Presets: Users can drag and drop from a number of pre-configured presets to build reports instantly, with flexible customization options.

Shotgun pricing starts at $30 per account/per month with what they call “Awesome” support, or $50 per account/per month for “Super Awesome” support. They are offering free trials here.

Shotgun 7.2 — plug-and-play integrations, streaming in RV, more

Shotgun has released Version 7.2 of its cloud-based review and production tracking software. With an eye on simplifying workflows and helping studios of all sizes collaborate, this latest update transforms integrations with content creation tools and streamlines the review process.

Updates to RV also make reviewing media from the cloud seamless and SDI functionality is now standard. The release also adds single sign-on to give IT departments centralized control over user access and permissions in Shotgun.

Highlights include:
– Plug-and-Play Integrations: It’s now easier for Shotgun users to connect their content creation tools with Shotgun. New plug-and-play integrations auto-discover Maya, Nuke, Photoshop, Houdini, 3ds Max and Flame, and then embed the Shotgun Panel, loader and publisher directly within them without requiring any manual configuration.
 – Web Streaming in RV: Many Shotgun users work on dispersed teams around the world, and might not always have access to the high-res media for reviews in RV. With the addition of cloud playback support in RV, web-connected artists and supervisors can review shots in context, even if the content is not stored on their computers. Shotgun simply recognizes if media isn’t available and seamlessly pulls it into RV from Shotgun on the web.
– New Publisher: A new publisher tool allows for easy tracking of files in Shotgun and can either run in content creation tools or as a standalone app. This gives users the flexibility to publish files from any content creation tools, not just the ones currently supported by Shotgun.
– Single Sign-On: Single sign-on bolsters security in-house by centralizing authentication, making it easy for your IT department to grant, limit and revoke access and permissions for any user.
– SDI Functionality in RV: SDI functionality, previously only available with Shotgun’s deeper support option, is now available to all Shotgun clients.

Shotgun pricing starts at $30 per account/per month with standard support, or $50 per account/per month with deeper support. Free trials are available here.

Checking in With Mammal Studios

LA-based Mammal Studio is a full-service VFX house providing CG and 2D visual effects for feature film, television, commercials and music video. They opened their doors in the summer of 2013 and have some pretty high-profile work on their resume, including the films The Shallows, The 5th Wave, Concussion, Joy and Hardcore Henry.

Let’s find out more from Mammal’s partner/VFX supervisor Gregory Liegey.

What types of projects do you work on?
We mainly work on feature films, which is our team’s most extensive experience base. Nonetheless, with the freedom we have as a small independent house, we’re taking opportunities to fit in some smaller projects for TV, music video and commercial clients. Early on in our history, we did a few sequences for Eminem’s Rap God video, which was especially exciting because it was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award.

We also find TV and commercial work refreshing in the sense that they allow a greater contribution of creative input. Not everything is as extensively planned out and previously discussed as it is for features. The opportunity to help shape the look and ideas of the work is a welcome experience for us — allowing our senior team to draw upon their experience working directly for productions.

But studio features still occupy the bulk of our schedule. In the fourth quarter of 2015, we expanded our team and infrastructure to work on an independent feature set to release this year, and two studio-based Christmas releases: Concussion for Peter Landesman at Sony Pictures and Joy for David O. Russell at Fox.

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What is your typical workflow?
More and more of our projects start these days with pre-production meetings about concept and design. From there, one of our senior supervisors will attend the shoot to work with the director and other department heads. When the edits are roughed together, we’ll start to get plates. We ingest the plates into our servers and publish them to Shotgun using a custom tool written by our in-house developer Janice Collier.

Once everything is loaded into Shotgun, the supervisors and leads create the list of tasks needed for each shot and start assigning those jobs out to our artists. The artists use the Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit to run Maya, Mari, Nuke, etc. Shotgun’s Toolkit, with a bunch of custom modifications, helps us keep track of the assets and outputs from all the artists.

Our supervisors use Screening Room to review the artists’ work and enter notes into Shotgun for reference. This is a streamlined and efficient process for getting the artists the feedback they need. Thanks to Screening Room’s tight integration into Shotgun’s database of previous versions, cut sequences, concept artwork and original scans the supervisors deliver much-higher-quality direction. The supervisor notes are prioritized so the artist need only concentrate on the task at hand without worrying about larger issues of scheduling and workload — those issues are managed by the production team.

Once the artists’ work is approved for client review, we go back to the Shotgun Toolkit to process and export the shots as deliverable QuickTimes. A proprietary process uses Shotgun shot data to grab the per-shot color corrections needed to match Editorial sequence color and sends a Nuke job to our Deadline queue to render an Avid QuickTime in the client-requested framing and format.

What about delivery?
We deliver the client QTs (or 2Ks) using Shotgun’s Delivery request system, which keeps a record of what has been sent and where. Then we wait for client feedback.

You mentioned working on Joy. What was your workflow like on that film?
We ended up working on over 200 shots concurrent with another active show. Shotgun helped us keep track of the many editorial changes made during the run of the show. The artists would learn instantly of changes to the footage of their shots and could turn around those new versions quickly. That ability to accurately track editorial changes gave the production confidence that we could take on more and more work.

In addition the tools you mentioned earlier, what else do you call on?
We also use Modo, the Adobe Suite, Phoenix and Krakatoa for FX, and a few different Maya plug-ins for specialized tasks.  Deadline is our render queue.

The VFX industry has been in a weird place over the last few years. How are you guys succeeding in such a tough marketplace?
In strategic terms, we have what boils down to a two point plan: we aim to exceed the clients’ expectations and we work efficiently. Luckily, by being efficient, we give directors more options to choose from and more time to polish the work despite the shorter schedules and leaner budgets. So, point number two helps us consistently achieve point number one. Directors are happy to have more creative choices. Producers are happy to have competitive bids from a company who can be relied upon to deliver.

Of course, all of the above would be impossible without a crew of dedicated artists and technical support staff.  Their teamwork and creativity are the essential ingredients in all of our projects.

 

The pipeline experts behind Shotgun’s ‘Two Guys and a Toolkit’ blog

Jeff Beeland and Josh Tomlinson know pipelines, and we are not exaggerating. Beeland was a pipeline TD, lead pipeline TD and pipeline supervisor at Rhythm and Hues Studios for over nine years. After that, he was pipeline supervisor at Blur Studio for over two years. Tomlinson followed a similar path, working in the pipeline department at R&H starting in 2003. In 2010 he moved over to the software group at the studio and helped develop its proprietary toolset. In 2014 he took a job as senior pipeline engineer in the Digital Production Arts MFA program at Clemson University where he worked with students to develop an open source production pipeline framework.

This fall the pair joined Shotgun Software’s Pipeline Toolkit team, working on creating even more efficient — wait for it —pipelines!  In the spirit of diving in head first, they decided to take on the complex challenge of deploying a working pipeline in 10 weeks — and blogging the good, the bad and the ugly of the process along the way. This was the genesis of their Two Guys and a Toolkit series of blogs, which ended last week.

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Josh Tomlinson and Jeff Beeland.

Before we dig in to find out more, this is what you should know about the Pipeline Toolkit: The Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit (sgtk) is a suite of tools and building blocks designed to help users to set up, customize and evolve their pipelines. Sgtk integrates with apps such as Maya, Photoshop and Nuke and makes it easy to access Shotgun data inside those environments. Ok, let’s talk to the guys…

What made you want to start the Two Guys and a Toolkit series?
Josh: Since we were both relatively new to Shotgun, this was originally just a four-week exercise for us to get up and running with Toolkit; there wasn’t really any discussion of a blog series. The goal of this exercise was to learn the ins and outs of Toolkit, identify what worked well, and point out things we thought could be improved.

After we got started, the word spread internally about what we were up to and the idea for the blog posts came up. It seemed like a really good way for us to meet and interact directly with the Shotgun community and try to get a discussion going about Toolkit and pipeline in general.

Did you guys feel exposed throughout this process? What if you couldn’t get it done in 10 weeks?
Jeff: The scope of the original exercise was fairly small in terms of the requirements for the pipeline. Coupled with the fact that Toolkit comes with a great set of tools out of the box, the 10-week window was plenty of time to get things up and running.

We had most of the functional bits working within a couple of weeks, and we were able to dive deep into that experience over the first five weeks of the blog series. Since then we’ve been able to riff a little bit in the posts and talk about some more sophisticated pipeline topics that we’re passionate about and that we thought might be interesting to the readers.

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What would you consider the most important things you did to ensure success?
Josh: One of the most important ideas behind the blog series was that we couldn’t just talk about what worked well for us. The team really stressed the importance of being honest with the readers and letting them in on the good, the bad and the ugly bits of Toolkit. We’ve tried our best to be honest about our experience.

Jeff: Another important component of the series was the goal of starting up a dialogue with the readers. If we just talked about what we did each week, the readers would get bored quickly. In each post we made it a point to ask the readers how they’ve solved a particular problem or what they think of our ideas. After all, we’re new to Toolkit, so the readers are probably much more experienced than us. Getting their feedback and input has been critical to the success of the blog posts.

Josh: Now that the series is over, we’ll be putting together a tutorial that walks through the process of setting up a simple Toolkit pipeline from scratch. Hopefully users new to Toolkit will be able to take that and customize it to fit their needs. If we can use what we’ve learned over the 10 weeks and put together a tutorial that is helpful and gives people a good foundation with Toolkit, then the blog series will have been successful.

Do you feel like you actually produced a pipeline path that will be practical and realistic for applying in real-world production studios?
Jeff: The workflow designs that we model our simple pipeline off of are definitely applicable to a studio pipeline. While our implementations are often at a proof-of-concept level, the ideas behind how the system is designed are sound. Our hope has always been to present how certain workflows or features could be implemented using Toolkit, even if the code we’ve produced as part of that exercise might be too simplistic for a full-scale studio pipeline.

During the second half of the blog series we started covering some larger system designs that are outside of the scope of our simple pipeline. Those posts present some very interesting ideas that studios of any size — including the largest VFX and animation studios — could introduce into their pipelines. The purpose of the later posts was to evoke discussion and spread some possible solutions to very common challenges found in the industry. Because of that, we focused heavily on real-world scenarios that pipeline teams everywhere will have experienced.

What is the biggest mistake you made, what did you do to solve it and how much time did it set you back?
Josh: To be honest, we’ve probably made mistakes that we’ve not even caught yet. The fact that this started as an exercise to help us learn Toolkit means we didn’t know what we were doing when we dove in.

In addition, neither of us have a wealth of modern Maya experience, as R&H used mostly proprietary software and Blur’s pipeline revolved primarily around 3DS Max. As a result, we made a complete mess out of Maya’s namespaces on our first pass through getting the pipeline up and running. It took hours of time and frustration to unravel that mess and get a clean, manageable namespacing structure into place. In fact, we nearly eliminated Maya namespaces from the pipeline simply so we could move on to other things. In that regard, there would still be work to do if we wanted to make proper use of them in our workflow.

You spent 10 weeks building a pipeline essentially in a vacuum… how much time realistically would this take in an operational facility where you would need to integrate pipeline into existing tech infrastructure?
Jeff: That all depends on the scope of the pipeline being developed. It’s conceivable that a small team could get a Toolkit-driven pipeline up and running in weeks, if relying on mostly out-of-the-box functionality provided.

This would require making use of well-supported DCC applications, like Maya and Nuke, as custom integrations with others would require some development time. This sort of timeframe would also limit the pipeline to supporting a single physical studio location, as multi-location or cloud-based workflows would require substantial development resources and time.

It’s worth noting that R&H’s pipeline was initially implemented in a very short period of time by a small team of TDs and engineers, and was then continually evolved by a larger group of developers over the course of 10-plus years. Blur’s pipeline evolved similarly. This goes to show that developing a pipeline involves hitting a constantly moving target, and shouldn’t be viewed as a one-time development project. The job of maintaining and evolving the pipeline will vary in scope and complexity depending on a number of factors, but is something that studios should keep in mind. The requirements laid out by production and artists often change with time, so continued development is not uncommon.

Any lessons learned, parting words of wisdom for others out there taking on pipeline build-out?
Jeff: This really goes for software engineering in general — iterate quickly and set yourself up to fail as fast as possible. Not all of your ideas are going to pan out, and even when they do, your implementation of the good ones will often let you down. You need to know whether the direction you’re going in will work as early as possible so that you can start over quickly if things go wrong.

Josh: A second piece of advice is to listen to the users. Too often, developers think they know how artists should work and fail to vet their ideas with the people that are actually going to use the tools they’re writing. In our experience, many of the artists know more about the software they use than we do. Use that to your advantage and get them involved as early in the process as possible. That way you can get a better idea of whether the direction you’re going in aligns with the expectations of the people that are going to have to live with your decisions.

New Autodesk extensions, updated Shotgun at SIGGRAPH 2015

At SIGGRAPH 2015  Autodesk announced its 2016 M&E extensions, designed to accelerate design, sharing, review and iteration of 3D content across every stage of the creative pipeline. The Maya 2016 extension is a new text tool for creating branding, flying logos, title sequences and other projects that require 3D text. The 3ds Max 2016 extension includes geodesic voxel and heat map solvers to help artists create better skin weighting faster. New Max Creation Graph (MCG) animation controls provide procedural animation capabilities.

Creative Market, an online content marketplace acquired by Autodesk last year, is expanding its offerings with the debut of 3D content. The marketplace is currently home to nearly 9,000 shops selling more than 250,000 design assets to a community of more than one million members. Artists can search, purchase and license high-quality 3D content created by designers around the world or upload and sell original 3D models on the site.

Shotgun Software has announced a new set of features and updates designed to make it easier for teams to review, share and provide feedback on creative projects. Also at SIGGRAPH 2015, Autodesk has announced the latest extension releases for its Maya 2016 and 3ds Max 2016 3D modeling, animation, VFX and rendering software and a new 3D marketplace on Creative Market, the company’s online platform for purchasing and selling custom content developed by artists.

Shotgun’s upcoming Shotgun 6.3 release will include new review and approval features and an updated Client Review Site to streamline collaboration and communication within teams, across sites and with clients. Shotgun’s Pipeline Toolkit is also being updated with the Shotgun Panel, which will let artists communicate directly with other artists and see only the information relevant to their tasks directly inside creative tools like Autodesk Maya and The Foundry’s Nuke, along with a refreshed Workfiles tool to find and navigate to relevant files more quickly.

Shotgun 6.3 includes a new global view that allows users to easily access and manage media across all of a studio’s projects from a central location in Shotgun. Other improvements include new browsing options, playlists and a preference to launch media in RV, the desktop image/movie player.

 

Tweak Software bought by Autodesk

Autodesk has purchased Tweak Software, the developer of RV, an image and sequence playback tool. Tweak be joining forces with Shotgun Software, also a recent Autodesk purchase. Effective immediately, the Tweak and Shotgun teams will be working together to advance review and collaboration technology.

The entire Tweak staff is joining Autodesk, continuing to work as a unit in the Shotgun team under the leadership of Tweak’s Jim Hourihan, Seth Rosenthal and Alan Trombla, in close partnership with Shotgun’s Don Parker.

This collaboration between Shotgun and Tweak is not new. Shotgun and Tweak had partnered in the past to integrate their technologies, and since many customers were using Tweak’s RV and Shotgun in tandem to manage their pipeline and reviews there were many synergies. Tweak also shared space in Shotgun’s booth at several past SIGGRAPH conferences.

In addition for looking for new avenues to further integration between RV, Shotgun and Autodesk, Tweak will continue to develop, support and sell RV as an open and pipeline agnostic tool.

Check out this link for the official FAQ.

Magnetic Dreams talks organization and productivity

This VFX/animation boutique calls on Shotgun software to keep them on track.

By Don Culwell

Magnetic Dreams is a boutique Nashville-based VFX and animation studio with an underdog spirit. Overseeing a staff of about 30 artists working on everything from commercials with a one-day turnaround to long-term feature projects, I value tools that can help our workflow thrive while keeping things simple at the same time.

For the past three years, Magnetic Dreams has been using Shotgun for our production management, and it has given us a huge advantage in terms of organization and productivity.

Being a small shop is a double-edged sword. One thing our clients like about working with Continue reading

Autodesk to acquire Shotgun Software

Autodesk has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Shotgun Software, a developer of scalable, cloud-based production tracking, review and asset management software for the film, television and games industries. This transaction is expected to close during Autodesk’s fiscal quarter ending July 31, 2014, and have no impact on Autodesk’s guidance issued on May 15, 2014. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

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Shotgun’s Don Parker.

Shotgun’s tools for production management are tightly integrated with many tools in the industry, including Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk Maya software. “Shotgun and Autodesk share a vision of an industry-wide, cloud-based production management system,” said Don Parker, Shotgun co-founder and chief executive officer. “Autodesk’s broad global network and development resources will speed up the pace of innovation and development of our global platform. Together, we will extend our tools deeper into the production process, and develop new solutions that best support the studios of the future.”

Since the launch of the Shotgun solution in 2006, it has become widely-adopted across the industry, providing business tools for managers and visual collaboration tools for artists and supervisors who are often working globally with distributed teams. More than 500 customers, including a number of leading studios, are using Shotgun’s customizable system and contribute to the ongoing development of its growing ecosystem of applications.

The existing Shotgun team will continue to support current and new customers, and lead future product development.

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Autodesk’s Chris Bradshaw.

“The acquisition of Shotgun will accelerate Autodesk’s efforts to deliver solutions that help our creative customers solve the critical problem of operating more efficiently by collaborating globally to deliver increasingly complex productions on time and budget,” said Chris Bradshaw, senior VP, Autodesk Media & Entertainment. “Shotgun brings deep expertise and industry-leading technology in cloud products and production management, so we welcome the team, customers and community to Autodesk.”

 

 

Blur replaces proprietary management tool, installs Shotgun

Los Angeles — Blur Studio, makers of feature films, commercials and game cinematics and trailers, is now using Shotgun’s software for production management and tracking. Shotgun replaces Blur’s in-house production management software, which was tying up valuable internal development resources.

“Pipeline and infrastructure software may not be the sexiest application you’ll find in a VFX and animation studio, but it’s certainly one of the most crucial to producing great work,” says Tim Miller, co-founder of Blur Studio. “The less time our artists and producers spend managing, the more time we can spend creating. As projects get more complicated and schedules get more challenging it’s critical to have tools to efficiently manage the huge amounts of detailed data needed to get the job done. Shotgun is both producer- and artist-friendly, which makes it in our opinion the best tool out there for helping us deliver great work.”

Prior to integrating Shotgun into their pipeline, Blur had two full-time developers working on a proprietary toolset called “Trax” for production management. The developers were allocating a majority of their time to updating the toolset. As project volume increased and the studio expanded with a new facility move, Blur’s production management needs were no longer being met by their in-house system.

“While Trax has certain features and advantages that will continue to be utilized for studio wide planning and reporting, as a production tool it was falling further behind. Shotgun was gaining prominence for offering a highly equipped, out of the box production management platform for animation, games and VFX studios,” says Jeff Beeland, Blur pipeline supervisor. “Shotgun has over a dozen dedicated developers, and a full-time support team, and once we started testing it we quickly realized we could never match what they deliver with something created in-house.”

Once the decision was made to standardize on Shotgun, Blur seamlessly connected the Shotgun database with their pipeline and in-house database. Both feature a lightweight Python API, allowing Shotgun to link effortlessly with their internal system along with core artist apps including Autodesk 3ds Max. Now fully integrated into their daily operations, Shotgun powers production management for an average user base of 85 artists across all of Blur’s projects which most recently have included Thor: The Dark World and promotional trailers for The Elder Scrolls. Using Shotgun’s Web-based interface, producers, coordinators and artists at all levels can add and link data seamlessly to the database for easy access.

In the future, Blur plans on further integrating Shotgun into their daily operations to track budgets and artists’ time sheets. “We’ve come a long way in a short time with Shotgun,” concludes Beeland. “It’s been great for our artists, producers and supervisors alike, and aside from building a great production management platform — Shotgun’s support and customer service is significantly ahead of what is standard in the software business.”

Photo Caption: Blur’s pipeline supervisor, Jeff Beeland, using Shotgun.