Required Update: Local File Linking and Toolkit Integration in Google Chrome

Google Chrome is removing support for the Shotgun Browser and Java Plugins

What is going to break?
Shotgun uses a browser plugin for its local file linking and Toolkit integration features. The technology that backs this plugin is called NPAPI, and it is about to be deprecated in Chrome. In September 2015, version 45 of Chrome will be released which will remove NPAPI support.

If you are using Google Chrome and either Local File Linking or Toolkit integration with Shotgun, when Chrome version 45 is released these features will stop working.


How to keep things working
In Shotgun version 6.1.4, we released support for a new way of doing integration with your desktop. The Shotgun website will now attempt to connect to Shotgun's Desktop application. If you are running Shotgun Desktop, then it will handle requests from Shotgun if neither Java nor the Shotgun Browser Plugin are available.

Simply put, to keep local file linking and Toolkit working in Google Chrome you need to:

Common Questions

I use Firefox, will this affect me?
No. Firefox will continue to work with the Shotgun Browser Plugin. At this time, they have not announced any plans to remove plugin support.

Does Shotgun now require everyone to install Shotgun Desktop?
Shotgun Desktop is only required if you're using Toolkit, or if Google Chrome is your primary browser and you use local file linking or Toolkit integration.

Shotgun Desktop is not a prerequisite for using Shotgun in general. It's simply a conduit that allows interaction with your local machine should you require those features.

I've installed Shotgun Desktop, does it have to be running?
Yes. In order for the local file access in Shotgun to work, Shotgun Desktop must be installed and running on your machine.

We have a locally hosted site and don't plan on upgrading soon. What should we do?
You have a couple of options to get you by until you've upgraded to v6.1.4

Where to find more information
For more information about Shotgun's desktop integration options, click here.
For more information about Shotgun's websocket server, click here.

As always, email support@shotgunsoftware.com with any issues or questions.
Get to Know... SPIRIT Animation
We recently chatted with Fernando Macedo, the chief creative officer at SPIRIT Animation, an animation and VFX shop based in Curitiba, Brazil. He told us about how Shotgun is a key tool in their workflow, especially on recent Disney XD series “KARL.”


Tell us about your company and the type of projects you work on.
SPIRIT Animation is a Brazilian animation and visual effects company. We produce 3D and 2D animation, motion design, and VFX for feature films, television, advertising and games; as well as original content for cinema and TV. SPIRIT is located in Curitiba, Brazil.

Is your team working in multiple locations? Who is using Shotgun?
Almost all of our team is located in-house. We have about 20 Shotgun users, most of them production artists.

How did you first hear about Shotgun?
One of our animators had used Shotgun on a previous production. He told us that it is a great tool to control and produce shows with lots of scenes and data.


Tell us a bit about the show KARL.
KARL is a 3D animated show that I created and is produced by SPIRIT Animation. The show is funny and crazy, while having an educational background to it. We all have the desire of eating unhealthy things from time to time – pizza, hamburgers, you know how it goes. So it is with the young character Jonny. Every episode starts with JONNY wanting to eat an unhealthy food or drink. We enter Jonny’s mind, where Karl (the healthy side of Jonny’s conscience) appears and battles those temptations. We took a pilot episode to Disney XD and they loved it, so we ended up producing a full season with the help of local governmental laws. It was distributed via Disney XD to all of Latin America, via SIC TV in Africa (Angola and Mozambique), and via Videovalis in Germany.

How is Shotgun essential for your work on KARL?
Season one of KARL was quite a challenge. We had about 49 scenes per episode, and a total of 52 episodes, with more than 60 characters. All the data ran through multiple departments (art, modeling, textures, rigging, animation, post, etc.), with Shotgun helping to keep track of it all.

What content creation tools do you use in-house?
Our primary 3D tool is Maya. We also use 3ds Max, MentalRay, ZBrush, Mudbox, and After Effects. For production coordination we use Basecamp alongside Shotgun.

How much effort do you focus on building out your pipeline?
We spend a lot of time to make sure our pipeline works well. Working out problems and hiccups is all part of the learning process. Each project comes with certain challenges and you have to know how to create effective solutions so that your pipeline works well, with little fixing and great agility.

Why is it important to pay such close attention to your pipeline?
Time is money. When things go wrong and need to be redone, it can put us behind schedule and over budget, so we have to be efficient. Another important aspect is that we cannot skip important parts of the creative process, because if we do, the story and the visual appeal may be compromised.

What’s your favorite feature of Shotgun?
I just love to quickly see who's working on what shot, and to easily find all the info about that shot, like frames, description and status. It’s helpful to see the evolution of the show, what's ahead and what's behind of schedule, and of course, being able to give reviews on the shots from anywhere in the world. That's awesome.


What makes SPIRIT Animation different from other animation companies in Brazil?
Over the past ten years in the entertainment business, we have invested a lot – in knowledge of the best ways to create quality content, and in the production of that original content. We have made many shorts, animated shows, and features, working across the script, concepting, and animation test stage. We believe in ourselves and in the stories we want to bring to the world.



What’s a day in the life like for you?

It’s insane. I direct KARL, now on season two, as well as other entertainment and advertising productions that are happening at the studio. I also run the front end, working on client relations. I also take care of the distribution of KARL and legal and financial issues. But in the end, what I like most is really working on the scripts and stories for our series and feature films. That has to all happen within a 15-hour day.

What are the three most important things in your office?
Loving what you do, being thankful for it, and coming to work with a huge smile and positive vibes, ready to do the best you can on another incredible day.


Do you develop proprietary tools, if so which one are you most proud of?
We do have great coffee :)

What inspires you creatively?
Great directors like Miyazaki, Disney and Lasseter, as well as talented artists from productions around the world. Life is also a great source of inspiration, with its landscapes, interesting people, music, and all forms of arts. This feeds the incredible world of our imagination, and from there, anything can come to life!


How do you do to stay connected to the artist community?
My favorite event is SIGGRAPH, as well as MIPCOM and KIDSCREEN (for distribution of content). Facebook, CG Channel and other online forums are also a great way of connecting and sharing works, doubts, and inspirations across the industry.

What is your favorite thing about working in your city?
Curitiba is great, full of nature and cool people. It certainly does not have all the noise and craziness that big cities like São Paulo have. While Curitiba is considered a big city (about 3 million people), it feels like a small town. I love it here.

When you aren’t working, what’s the ideal way to spend a day?
Running and making picnics at the park, watching good movies, playing basketball and card games with friends, and creating stories about awesome worlds (that's not considered working).


What led you to visual effects?
I have loved to create and draw since I was a very young boy. I always wrote stories and created new worlds. The day that I realized that I could actually learn that (I had an epiphany at the cinema, watching X-Men), I joined Anima Mundi International Animation Festival. There I met the great Chris Landreth and Larry DeFlorio, amazing artists who were running an awesome course at Toronto-Canada (Seneca College Post-Graduation Program). I immediately went there and it changed my life (back then there was little online content, so It was hard to learn on your own).

What is the biggest challenge in running a studio today?
Paying the bills. Until your creations actually start paying the bills, it's a long and hard road. Costs are super high (facility, software, insurance, and crew), artists are complicated beings, and clients can come and go. Dealing with great creativity and legal and financial issues, as well as with infrastructure problems and marketing and distribution...that's enough to get anyone insane. But I love it.
2015 Pipeline Awards Recipients!
Yesterday at our SIGGRAPH User Group we had the honor of recognizing excellence in pipeline tool development and people who have made significant contributions to the pipeline community – with the 2nd Annual Pipeline Awards!

The Framestore Pipeline Team accepting their 2015 Shotgun Pipeline Hero Award

We had a spectacular field to choose from, with fully twice as many submissions as last year covering everything from game engines to artist tools to cloud rendering, bidding/quoting, publishing, localization, review, reporting and more. Many studios gave shout-outs to their in-house pipeline heroes working tirelessly behind the scenes, and we join them in recognizing these folks. We saw companies nominate consulting developers who came into their studios and built amazing tools, and we love to see the rise of this new cadre of experts.

As we did last year, we are recognizing two types of contributions – pipeline tools (cleverly-developed, elegant solutions with an eye toward those that solve problems common to many studios) and pipeline heroes (people who moved the field forward within the Shotgun community and out in the wider industry). Here they are:

Pipeline Shotty Awards 
For the top tools of 2015

Media Submit and Media Link, EA Germany (René Calles)

When artists render out image sequences from the Frostbite game engine, this toolset lets them easily drag and drop their media onto the appropriate task and add notes to all versions uploaded or just specific versions via the details pane. They can tag versions here as well as attach any associated files. Once artists submit work, it is published to Shotgun, compressed and uploaded for preview to the media site, and also renamed, versioned and stored in the server based on the context of the task.


Adobe After Effects Integration, Omstudios (Sebastian Thiel and Timor Kardum)

Custom-developed After Effects deep integration with Shotgun



Smart Publish Notifications, Milk VFX (Benoit Leveau)

Milk’s Smart Publish, a simple, powerful tool that grew out of experience, ties together publishing and communication, connecting people inside a small studio in an elegant way. It sends ‘smart’ publish notification emails based on rules (rigging to animation, lighting to comp, CC to the HOD of the department, etc.)


Pipeline Hero Awards 
For people pushing the field of pipeline forward significantly, within the Shotgun community or in the broader industry.



The Framestore Team: Jesse Lucas, Jesse Spielman, Karsten Wagenknecht, Ian Thompson and Dane Bettis

These folks are true power users, having designed and heavily customized a streamlined, fully functional multi-site pipeline based on Toolkit that includes all standard Toolkit apps, running solidly in production. They have relentlessly driven Toolkit forward and pushed the Shotgun team (hard!) in that area, and in doing so they’ve achieved something distinctive that benefits the entire Shotgun community.


Hannes Ricklefs, MPC

When you think about people who have had an impact on the growth and understanding of pipelines, Hannes is likely top of mind. We’re recognizing him with a Hero award for his years-long efforts to move pipeline forward and foster industry-wide understanding. Back in 2008 he co-authored a SIGGRAPH paper on the pipelines for Chronicles of Narnia and followed it up with one on Prince of Persia’s pipeline in 2010. That same year he organized the first SIGGRAPH Birds of a Feather on Pipeline and has been holding it every year since. His co-authored paper on the need for standardization within global vfx productions, co-authored book Production Pipeline Fundamentals for Films and Games, many talks and interviews on the topic, and his Google group have brought the pipeline community together and given it active forums for discussion, idea-sharing and problem solving.

Choosing whom to recognize this year was no easy task and we thank every team and individual who took the time to gather descriptions and screens for their submissions. We’re sending all submitters a t-shirt as token of our appreciation for their efforts.

We also want to take an opportunity to give a shout-out to all of the people working way behind the scenes at studios everywhere to create pipelines and tools that make laborious processes better/faster/happier for humans, and helping companies to thrive. We salute you!

Congrats to all,
The Shotgunners
Announcing Shotgun 6.3 & New Toolkit Features- Get a Sneak Peek at SIGGRAPH
We're here at SIGGRAPH today and excited to give folks a sneak peek of Shotgun 6.3 and new Toolkit features. We'll be showing what's new all week at our booth #317, so if you’re here, come by and see it in action!

Shotgun 6.3 includes updates to the media app and client review site and Shotgun’s Toolkit introduces a new Shotgun Panel and refreshed Workfiles App- making it easier than ever for teams to review, share and provide feedback on creative projects.

Toolkit features will be available to all users next month. We’ll be starting an early adopters/beta release for Shotgun 6.3 in September with the public release coming this Fall. All Shotgun subscribers are welcome to participate, so if you’re interested, drop us a line at support@shotgunsoftware.com.

What’s New in Shotgun 6.3 

Media App Enhancements— We’re promoting the media app by connecting it to all your projects and making it easier to browse your media by the things you track. New views will help you find playlists faster and launch media just the way you want, and catch up on all work across your studio and from multiple locations- in a single place.



Client Review Site Updates— Studios and clients can now add attachments and replies to notes, have the option to quickly and safely share playlists with or without passwords, and stay updated on when feedback is made or new work is added to a playlist with improved email notifications. 



What’s New in Toolkit 

Shotgun Panel —Artists can now have a simple mini-Shotgun UI right inside their most commonly used applications like Maya and Nuke, giving them quick access to important information and utilities, and the ability to communicate with other artists on your team without having to go out to a web browser. The panel can also be integrated directly into your pipeline, and is customizable to support each studio’s specific workflow.
Toolkit Workfiles Refresh — Artists can browse, load and save files even faster with quick navigation for finding files and getting them loaded. They also now have the ability to write custom actions to manage files any way they want.
An Experimental VR Review Pipeline
A version of the VR review toolset discussed here was first released in beta form in the 6.2.2 release in May. Jaunt VR will be presenting at the Shotgun booth (#317) this week at SIGGRAPH on Wednesday August 12th, 10:30-11am to showcase how they’re using Shotgun and RV (including these VR tools) to accelerate in-house VR review.



Background

The CG VFX and feature animation industries are decades old now, and many workflows and pipelines are well-understood and have associated best practices. New forms of entertainment are emerging all the time, and new workflows and pipelines need to be created on the fly to serve new kinds of media production as is the case today with VR and 360 degree content creation. Tools like Shotgun and RV need to be flexible and adaptable enough to facilitate this creativity.

RV's Flexible Pipeline

RV is a media player with a hardware-accelerated image-processing graph at its core. This flexible graph is mostly used to provide artists and studios with complete control of the color pipeline, with its constantly changing demands.

The image processing operations supported by the graph are not limited to color transforms. Custom nodes can be written (in GLSL) for the RV graph to support many different kinds of IP operations including filters and multi-input compositing. In particular, custom nodes can implement geometric transformations like projections.

RV's Standard Framework

The flexible IP graph at RV's core is surrounded and supported by a set of standard tools, for example:

• High-performance I/O and caching infrastructure. Many file formats are supported and media in almost any format can be streamed and/or cached for high-speed playback.

• Stereoscopic toolset. Multi-view imagery is a first-class citizen in RV's system, so the input format does not dictate the processing or output format.

• Review tools. Media in any format can be compared in several ways including tiled views (with any number of tiles) and "split-screen" views (with any numbers of layers and interactive wiping).



This video illustrates how some custom GLSL nodes can enhance and simplify VR review.

An Experimental VR Review Pipeline

An emerging standard for VR working/mastering media is a "Packed" stereo format (each frame contains left and right eyes), where each eye is a complete 360-degree spherical view (this kind of projection is variously known as "spherical", "lat-long", or "equi-rectangular").

Although this format is useful as a format for VR mastering and delivery, it is difficult to review directly in production (especially on the artist’s desktop or with standard theater set-ups), because of the "distortion" of the spherical projection.

In the video we demonstrate how RV can be extended with custom GLSL nodes to implement a review pipeline for media in this format. Thanks to Jaunt for supplying the media used in the example! In the video you see:

1. A custom GLSL node can be used to "unpack" the incoming media into "real" stereo. At this point any of RV standard stereo tools and display formats can be used with the media.

2. Another custom GLSL node takes the unpacked stereo (still in “spherical” form) and conceptually maps it on to a virtual sphere for viewing. Parameters on the GLSL node are modified by user interaction driving Python interface code to set the view direction, field of view, etc. This shader was developed by The Mill and kindly contributed back to the RV community, so thanks very much to The Mill!

3. With the addition of these two custom nodes, RV's standard frame work allows you to use all the standard review workflows with this new media type, including building sessions and playlists of multiple takes or edited sequences of shots and comparing versions in layouts of any size or stacks with split-screens and interactive "wipes". RV's standard IO and caching infrastructure is also handy since VR media tends to be high-resolution and high-frame-rate.

A note on The Mill's LatLong shader: we’d love to see much more of this kind of sharing and would be happy to do what we can to facilitate that by managing some kind of public repository. If any of you think you'd be interested in contributing to such a community, please ping us and we'll start that discussion!
See What Our Clients Are Building With Shotgun!
At Siggraph this year we'll  be sharing cool integrations from our partners and having client presentations throughout the week at our booth (#317). Where they'll show off the tools they've built with Shotgun that knit together workflows across the globe. Be sure to come by and check 'em out!


Cinesync+Shotgun
Rory McGregor, Cospective
Tuesday August 11th, 1:30-2pm & demoing 2-3pm
Wednesday August 12th, 4:30-5pm & demoing 5-6pm
Our friends from Cospective will be showing how cineSync integrates seamlessly with Shotgun and how it provides synchronized remote review and approval. Through an embedded Shotgun Review portal, cineSync users can import files and other info from Shotgun for a live review, then export all session notes, annotated frames and other data back to Shotgun for reference.                                                   

Shotgun on a Global Scale
Mahmoud Rahnama, Pixomondo
Tuesday August 11th, 4-4:30pm
Mahmoud will discuss how VFX studio, Pixomondo, shares work and communicates between all of their facilities around the world using Shotgun. He'll also dive into the different ways artists and management use Shotgun and show us a shot from A to Z to demonstrate workflows between departments.


Multi-site Asset Transfer at Framestore
Jesse Lucas, Framestore
Wednesday August 12th, 3-3:30pm
Jesse Lucas, Global Head of Pipeline at Framestore will be showing how Framestore's Integrated Advertising division used Shotgun to build a lightweight asset transfer system to distribute production across multiple offices. And how to help artists collaborate effectively across oceans, keep the data flowing, and stay sane.


Cinematic VR Production: Building Capacity for an emerging Medium
Buckley Collum, Jaunt VR
Wednesday August 12th, 10:30-11am
In order to keep pace with the rapidly expanding demand for content, Jaunt has turned to Shotgun and RV to help expedite the production process. Buckley Collum, Director of Production at Jaunt VR, will show the unique problems faced in creating and managing VR content, and describe how the industry leader in cinematic virtual reality is working with Shotgun and RV to bring their production tools to this new market.

One Deluxe. One Shotgun
Seth Lippman, Method Studios
Wednesday August 12th, 1:30-2pm & Thursday August 13th, 11-11:30am
Seth Lippman, Sr Pipeline Developer at Method will be presenting a unique insight into how Method Studios (part of Deluxe’s Creative Services Group) utilizes Shotgun across their international network of facilities. Using SG tools, Method has created customized workflows across feature film and commercial projects and leveraged the power of the SG database framework to automate tasks, analyze productivity and achieve efficiency at the scale required for supporting monumental VFX work.


Siggraph Party!

We're throwing a Siggraph party for all of our friends, and we'd love for you to join us!


Come have some late night fun with us!
Capacity is limited so be sure to RSVP.

Wednesday August 12th, 9pm-1am

Mrs Fish, 448 S Hill St

Hope to see you there!

cheers,
The Shotgunners
Bridging oceans: How new tools are changing remote production
Hi, this is Rory McGregor from Cospective, the team behind cineSync. We'll be talking at Siggraph 2015's Birds of a Feather, with a terrific panel including Shotgun's Ben Hadden, The Creative-Cartel's Jenny Fulle and Scarecrow VFX's Rohin Aggarwal.

We invite you to come along and be a part of the discussion!


Bridging oceans: How new tools are changing remote production


Remote working in media production is on the rise. Companies - and even individuals - can now contribute to major film, TV and advertising projects from anywhere in the world. But how do they remain well-connected? 

In this session, Software developers and VFX creatives share their thoughts on the tools that are breaking down barriers in production. From remote production tools to the opportunities afforded by the Cloud, learn how increasingly more productions are taking place across borders, oceans and continents - and how new software, technologies and ways of working allow studios to work without the team ever having to enter the same room.. 

Read more about "Bridging oceans" at www.cospective.com/cinesync

‘Bridging oceans: How new tools are changing remote production’ is open to anyone who’d like to come along. Learn more about the panel below:


Bridging oceans: How new tools are changing remote production
Thursday, August 13, 10am-11am
Los Angeles Convention Center, ACM SIGGRAPH Theater


Speakers

Rory McGregor, CEO, Cospective
Rohin Aggarwal, CEO, Scarecrow VFX
Jenny Fulle, CEO, The Creative Cartel
Ben Hadden, Product Manager, Shotgun Software
Sandro Di Segni, Director of Visual FX at O2 Filmes
Get to know... Mammal Studios



We recently got the chance to chat with Gregory Liegey, VFX Supervisor of partner of Mammal Studios, a Los Angeles-based boutique visual effects shop.

Tell us about your company and the type of projects you work on.
A group of us started Mammal Studios to try to pursue our own vision for sustainable VFX production in LA. We rely on our expertise and the methods and efficiencies we’ve come up with over the years to keep things simple and productive and client pleasing. So far it’s been going pretty well. The bulk of our work is feature film. We do all sorts of VFX, whether it’s 2D, 3D, whatever is needed.

Where is the company based? How many people there are using Shotgun (are they artists? Producers? Supervisors?)
Mammal is based in LA exclusively. Right now we have 13 full time staff. We try to keep it lean and mean, that’s part of our process. Everyone in the building is using Shotgun no matter what they do. Some of our staffers occasionally work remotely from home, which we’re able to do because the Shotgun pipeline helps us keep in touch and share all info over the web; it’s very convenient. Our IO guy works from home a lot which seems crazy but it works great, he just VPNs in and he can do everything he needs to do from his house.

We use Shotgun for everything that we can. We use it for deliveries, we use Shotgun Toolkit, we have a pipeline TD who’s always tweaking and trying to improve things, and we work with Shotgun support to come up with additional streamlining ideas. Toolkit is so helpful – it takes a lot of the dirty work that used to be manual and just does it on its own in the background. Some of the things don’t sound very fancy but at the end of the day it helps that everyone is, for instance, using the same system to start Nuke, to start their comps and render out their comps using Shotgun, or to write nodes that come with the Toolkit so everything is consistent. That’s a problem we had in the past, people would name things slightly differently and the paths would be slightly different, so when we tried to build tools that would grab the footage and make deliverable versions, sometimes it wouldn’t be there because the artist gave it a name that was slightly off. Toolkit helps solve all those problems so that our delivery pipeline is greatly enhanced, and consistency is built in and enforced in a user friendly way.



How did you first hear about Shotgun?
When I used to work at CIS Hollywood years ago, we had our own production management system that was cobbled together from Filemaker and web-based tools, but eventually the scale of our operations grew to the point where that system was lacking. So the company looked into other solutions for production software and eventually settled on Shotgun. When CIS merged with Method we used it there as well.

I saw that there were more possibilities for Shotgun beyond how it was being used at the time, so when we started Mammal I advocated for Shotgun right off the bat and had specific ideas of how we could make it work. Now it’s indispensable. Looking to the future we see the benefits in expansion – if we were to open in another market, the communication between the divisions is the biggest challenge. With Shotgun you can put the info in and people see everything they need and have the data to reference; you don’t have to be on the phone all day. Artists can access annotated frames, reference notes, etc. and it works on a bicoastal schedule so you can hand things off seamlessly from night to day and day to night. Mammal doesn’t have other branches yet but looking to the future we know we have a system where it’s all set up to work seamlessly. One supervisor here says that even within our one facility, he can stay in his office and still communicate perfectly with artists just over Shotgun – not that he doesn’t want to talk in person, but if he’s busy it lets him stay in his office and get more work done, but still give artists the info they need in a timely fashion. Shotgun facilitates that kind of transfer of information. For some things the directions are simple enough that you can jot a quick note and send it off to the artist instead of scheduling a call or a one-hour dailies review – in Shotgun you can get the whole thing done in the same time it would take to even schedule a dailies review. That’s something we have definitely capitalized on.

What content creation tools do you use in-house?
We use Maya and V-Ray to render on the 3D side, and Nuke to composite. Those are our main tools, thought we use other ancillary software and the Adobe suite as well.

Can you describe a recent project where Shotgun was essential?
We are just finishing up on ‘Concussion,’ which is a Sony picture with Will Smith. We had 180 or so shots that we had to get through our team of 13 people. So we needed to have all info transferring and up-to-date at all times. We also use Shotgun to accelerate the pipeline of delivery, so we have it set up where we can make a playlist and at the touch of a button, it kicks off a process that makes all the deliverable versions that we can send off to the client. So on a show with 180 shots on a one month schedule, we had to turn around 10, 15, 20 shots per day at times, which would have been impossible without the acceleration that Shotgun gave us just in terms of managing information and keeping track of statuses – who has what shots and where they are, how many they have left, that kind of thing. That stuff is essential to every show really; we use Shotgun for those things on every project.


What are your favorite features of Shotgun and how do you primarily use them?
I like Screening Room, that’s my favorite feature. I think it’s great. It lets me review shots very quickly. As soon as they’re available I can pull them up and review them and kick back quick notes, which lets us have rolling dailies so instead of the usual system where you have dailies just once a day with one version a day from each artist, I can get 2-3 versions per day from artists and I can prioritize what they’re working on. At any moment I can switch the priority so Shotgun automatically shows them that they should be working on this shot versus another shot. That lets us manage on the production side how things are flowing through the facility and what things are going to go first, what the clients might need first; we can prioritize quickly and keep track. It lets us save a lot of time in the review process because artists don't have to waste time taking down notes. If they’re simple notes and they show up in Shotgun, the artists get a little email and can jump right on it and turn around another version of the shot, and that means more shots move through the facility every day. It maximizes artists’ time, they get things instantly instead of wasting time sitting around in a screening room waiting for notes. I think that’s an underestimated time savings – people don’t realize how much time they waste on that sort of thing. Two-hour dailies reviews are just completely inefficient and impossible to justify at this point.

As a supervisor when I’m reviewing shots I’m much better able to review them at my own pace, and it’s beneficial to use Shotgun to pull up the references that I need without holding other people up. It’s sometimes a laborious process to a review a shot and think about how it looks in context and compares with the last version – I can pull up all those things using Screening Room and it’s nice that I can do that without making everyone wait. I can check everything I want to check without having people sitting around waiting for my final verdict. I find that it also lets me prioritize the notes that I’m giving and consider if they’re really important and if they will affect other shots. If I come up with something on one shot that will affect other shots, I can pull those up really quickly and put the same notes in those shots. The info at the end of the day is better quality. It’s much more polished, and has become a more efficient way to get better results.



How much effort do you focus on building out your pipeline?
Our pipeline TD, Janice Collier, works for us full time. We’re only two years in, so we still have an endless list of ideas that we’re constantly refining. Even from last summer to this summer we’ve eliminated hours and hours of manual work that people had to do. For instance just making QuickTimes for our editorial clients, that used used to be a manual process and someone had to take 2-3 hours a day to do that. Now it’s automated to the point where we press a button and Shotgun knows where the color correction is, knows where the frames are, knows the output format, and just puts that all together to create the deliverable QuickTime and it all happens seamlessly. That right there has saved us hours every day.

What’s a typical day like for you at work?
I come in and have a backlog of shots to review in Screening Room, basically it’s all the artist renders and publishes from the evening before, so I come in early and get through all that and give everyone notes and priorities on what to do that day once they arrive. That gives me a little head start and then the artists get in and read the notes and if they have questions we can talk it out. At that point the artists get to work so I might have time to work on some R&D shots or I’ll be bidding new projects coming in, I’ll have a few hours of that. Then by the early afternoon the artists have started to output more shots so I jump back in to review those, give them notes, then through that whole process we pull the shots that are good to go to client for review. So it’s an ongoing process of reviewing shots and kicking them back for tweaks or approving them for the client. Toward the end of the day we make a playlist of everything that needs to get sent out to various client editorial departments, kick off those QuickTime generations and package them up and send.

What is your favorite thing about working in LA?
Working here allows me to live here, that’s really what it is. I love LA and think that LA is an underrated city. Being from New York I can say that LA is a great city, it’s really up there and people don’t give it enough credit for all the good stuff that is has. Working in Hollywood is great, it is the center of the movie business, and though it’s not necessarily the center of VFX anymore it’s still the heart of moviemaking and all the decision-making happens here.

How do you do to stay connected to the larger community of artists?
It helps to talk with old colleagues and find out what technologies they’re using and what problems they’re addressing; it’s good to share that info and cross-pollenate. We also go to SIGGRAPH whenever it’s in LA. Once you’re a principal member of a company it becomes a lot more useful to go to SIGGRAPH and keep tabs on technology and talk to the software developers themselves, mainly because I have more of a say in those decisions now that I ever have before. It has been very gratifying to be able to make the decisions about software and how it’s used and how our pipeline is formed. At Mammal we try to make sure the procedures and software tools maximize everyone’s time and efficiency instead of just the EPs. That’s a problem I’ve seen at other facilities. People waste time doing data entry instead of artistic endeavors. We want to streamline everything so artists can focus solely on making the shots look the best that they can in the time that we have.

Why has your company been successful?
So far it’s because we’ve been able to make our clients happy with the work that we’re doing. We had contacts who gave us a chance when we started out and gave us opportunities, and we’ve worked hard to make sure they got everything that they need. Being efficient and being able to turn around new versions and explore different options for shots, giving people three different versions for a shot instead of one, that kind of thing, we try to go that extra mile to make sure the client feels comfortable and taken care of and that they know we’re giving 100%.


What led you into visual effects?
Actually I was working on the production side and a roommate got a job at a VFX house. I later took a job there too and learned everything I know about VFX on the job. At that time it was very early, there was no such thing as digital effects before this company, we were one of the first, so I got in at the very beginning. It was interesting and exciting.

When you aren’t working, what’s the ideal way to spend your day?
I like to play sports with my kids, mountain bike, relax at home. Mostly just being with the kids outside, kicking around a ball, playing catch. They’re young so they’re just getting into sports.

What do you think is the biggest challenge in running a studio today?
The biggest challenge is just keeping things efficient because we have to fight for every shot that we get. Other territories offer better tax incentives so we have to be better and more efficient to get work without the benefit of those subsidies. We basically have to be 30% better just as a bottom line calculation. That’s tough to do.

What inspires you?
I’m inspired by the creativity and fantastic work that the teams I work with can achieve. I’m constantly amazed by what my artists do on a daily basis. They do great work and they work as a team which is another inspiring thing. They take time out of their day to help a colleague and not necessarily get credit. They just selflessly pitch in and help each other get the job done.
Creative Market- New 3d Marketplace
Our friends over at Creative Market are starting up a new 3D marketplace that gives artists a way to display and sell their assets to supplement their income. As the industry evolves and artists look for multiple ways to make a living, we welcome this new option and want to do all we can to support the Creative Market team.

They’re currently looking for artists to help test out this new service and we thought maybe you or others on your team would be interested in helping them out.

Learn more about the Creative Market on their website here: https://creativemarket.com/sell/3d

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, you can find that team here: 3dteam@autodesk.com

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