Good Luck to Our Clients at the VES Awards!


We'll be in the audience cheering you on!

Check out the full list of nominees here.
30 Tips in 30 Days- We're Halfway There!

Today marks the halfway point for our 30 Tips in 30 Days series. We hope you've enjoyed the tips we've shared so far and we're excited to bring you 15 more!

For daily updates, follow along on Twitter and our 30 Tips in 30 Days Youtube Playlist.

If you missed any of the first 15 tips, be sure to check them out below:

Tip 1: Home Page



Tip 2: Setting Permissions



Tip 3: Following



Tip 4: Email Notifications



Tip 5: Power Editing



Tip 6: Gantt Overlays



Tip 7: Keep It Simple



Tip 8: Custom Tabs



Tip 9: HKS Playback in Overlay Player



Tip 10: Zoom & Pan Tools in Overlay Player



Tip 11:Annotation Tools in Overlay Player



Tip 12: Filters



Tip 13: Filter Panel



Tip 14: Create Form Options



Tip 15: HKS Global Navigation Bar



Get to Know... NSC Creative
This month, we got the chance to talk with Aaron Bradbury, NSC Creative VFX Supervisor and independent filmmaker. The studio produces fulldome films out of the National Space Centre in England, and is also tackling virtual reality (VR) and theme park attraction jobs around the world. He spoke with us about their pipeline, the challenges of working in fulldome and VR and how they’re using Shotgun to keep projects on track.

Tell us about your company.
NSC Creative is a computer animation studio specializing in immersive experiences for fulldome, stereoscopic 3D and virtual reality. We work out of the National Space Centre in Leicester, England, where we largely make fulldome films– the kind you watch in planetariums. Though we’re based in England, our films are also distributed internationally. We began as a small production team working for the Space Centre, but as our work became visible, we started receiving requests for outside projects. At that point, we realized we needed our own identity to handle those jobs and formed NSC Creative.

A few big jobs over the last couple of years have allowed us to expand. Today, we have a team of about 20. Most of us come from traditional cinema backgrounds, but underwent a lot of training. As a team, we’re big on immersion, so when we take on new projects, they normally involve placing an audience in a digital environment or experience. We’ve worked with planetariums, corporations and theme parks, and also provided training and consulting for VR projects.

What recent projects have you worked on?
One of our latest projects is an educational dome film about the Google Lunar X-PRIZE. It’s narrated by Tim Allen and provides an overview of the first privately funded competition to get people to and from the Moon. We got to meet and interview entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers from each team, and visualize their plans. We were able to check out their rover designs and dissect them to get an inside look at the technology, which was cool. The film has been screened in 600 dome theatres in over 60 countries and is available for free to anyone interested in showing it.

We recently worked on a theme park attraction for Cinecitta in Italy. The ride is essentially a 15K resolution, stereoscopic immersive tunnel that takes the audience on a wild ride through space. This was one of those projects that landed on the doorstep after several other companies failed to deliver on schedule. We had to figure out a new projection method with part of the team at an event in China and deliver the project in just three weeks. It's these kinds of projects where team communication on Shotgun is vital.

We’re also working on several theme park queue experiences, and by that I mean the attraction leading up to the ride that keeps riders from getting bored while they wait. We're really pushing this experience to the next level, and in some cases, the queue projects we’re developing turn out to be just as cool as the ride itself; it’s essentially an immersive storyline that you walk through.

We’re also knee-deep in a couple of corporate promos, and earlier this year, we worked with Golden Wolf as immersive consultants on a Comic-Con project. We helped their team create The Virtual Brainload, a 360-degree immersive experience, which has since been transformed into a VR experience for Google Play. We Are Stars is another cool project we’re working on right now. Unfortunately, I can’t say much about it yet other than it’s a VR project and it’s planned for release in early 2016. I can say that both Shotgun and RV have been important tools for us on this production.

What challenges accompany working in dome and VR?
They’re endless. With the recent flurry of VR filmmaking, a lot of people are starting to become familiar with the challenges we’ve been experiencing since full dome filmmaking began. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that resolution is key. We were working in 4K by 4K at the same time people were complaining about HD (1920x1080). Today, we’ve stepped it up to 8K by 8K at 60 FPS; the amount of data we handle is literally insane. We’re working with a wide field of view, which means we need higher res images for optimal image fidelity and a higher frame rate because movements are exaggerated. In cinema, if an object moves across the screen you can get away with 24 FPS, but with dome, you see jittering in the image. Almost everything has to be increased.

Writing scripts can be tough too because they have to take into account a number of things within the immersive space. For example, how long things take or how much movement is within a scene. Storyboarding is also a complicated process with timings and movements. When you’re storyboarding for an environment that wraps around you, it’s hard to visualize that scene in two dimensions. We’ve tried a lot of different techniques, but our traditional approach is storyboarding out the sweet spot, which we would consider the front or forward-facing scenes where most of the action takes place. We usually do a lot of re-composing scenes during previs and layout.

I’ve also realized that it’s hard to educate people in an immersive environment because there is so much to explore around them. You have to really try and figure out how to maintain focus in an area but still give people room to explore.

Tell us about the transition from fulldome filmmaking to VR.
We’ve been doing a lot of R&D in VR, and surprisingly, the transition hasn’t been a giant leap. The challenges are quite similar to what we’ve encountered in dome. For people working in traditional cinema, however, it may be a leap when they realize the resolutions and compositing tools required. You can’t light or use live action cameras the same way you used to. It’s a lot harder to cheat in VR and dome.

Is there any advice you’d offer to first-time VR creatives?
Camera timings are very different in VR versus traditional content creation. You want to move things more slowly than you would in traditional flat screen video. You also want to use caution as you edit and consider using more continuous shots to avoid jarring the audience. We’ve successfully done hard cuts in our films but in continuous shots every scene asset must be loaded simultaneously, which takes up a huge load of compute resources.

Why has your company been so successful?

That’s a tricky question. There are a lot of things that go into making a successful company, but a big part of it is brilliant people. We strive to find the best people to work for us. We’re also always exploring new technology and investing in R&D. Being able to adopt new technology quickly is crucial, especially in the fast changing world of immersion.

How much effort do you focus on building out your pipeline? Why is it important to pay such close attention to it?
Your pipeline speeds everything up; it’s all about efficiency. Being able to refine it means you can finish projects faster and for less. On the software side, we have a lot of tools we use and pay to use. Most of our projects require quick turnaround, and since it’s so specialized, we can’t send it out to other people to do. Everything has to be done in-house so we have to be very efficient with our tools.

We’re also doing a lot of VR work and consultancy so we have all these dreams of tools that meet our needs, but no one else is making them yet. When we’ve previously tried to get other developers to make the tools, it hasn’t worked out, so we’ve started taking our ideas and building the tools ourselves, which has only made our pipeline stronger.

Which proprietary tools are you most proud of?
We built a tool called “Revolve”. It’s based on the Unity engine and allows us to render directly to a VR headset. We can use it to render images and videos in 3ds Max to the headset, put it on and see what we just rendered. Another one is “Portal,”, our real-time engine for reviewing immersive environments. We use it a lot for our theme park attraction work. We developed it so that we can walk around and explore the queue that riders see before they get on the attraction itself.

What’s a regular day like for you? 
It can be very different week to week. Recently I’ve been doing a lot of live-action work. Some days I’m directing, and other days I’m working with artists, setting up scenes for them in 3ds Max, doing 3D scene reviews or reviewing content in an Oculus Rift. I’m also heavily involved in pipeline development, so I spend a lot of time working with the lead tool developer to come up with solutions to issues we’re experiencing. I enjoy working on all of the different aspects of production. For me, it’s fulfilling.

What were you doing before you began working for the Space Centre?
I studied painting at University, so that’s my main creative background. I did a lot of digital painting and started working on digital artwork. From there, I began making films and received grants from the Film Council and Arts Council to make short films. I did a lot of interactive work and found a mentor in John Grace who unfortunately passed away. A big event was held in his honor, and at that point, I realized how truly influential he was. While there, I met Paul and Max, two of my team members at the Space Centre. They’d seen one of my short films and encouraged me to apply for the job.

How do you stay connected to the artist community?
There’s a huge artist community in the dome space and I go to a lot of full dome festivals like Full Dome Festival in Germany and DomeFest in New Mexico. Whatever the conference, people come from all over the world. I also help host a festival in the UK. We curate tiny pockets of creative work from this niche world, review it, develop a program and invite the whole industry to it.

The online community is also important to me. I blog a lot and I know a lot of other people who blog too. In my spare time, I also work on my own dome and VR projects, which opens up a lot of opportunities to connect with artists. I was actually in New York in October for the Kaleidoscope VR Film Festival, the first purely VR film festival. I was there sharing my own narrative VR piece LoVR. It’s about the moment you fall in love. It’s almost like a 5-minute data visualization of seeing the partner of your dreams and catching each other’s gaze, and you see all the neural reactions. I was also involved in a panel about my piece with four other artists. It was great to chat with everyone there. Right now, there’s so much creativity around VR because the rules aren’t defined yet, which make it really fun.

How many people in your studio use Shotgun?
Everybody uses Shotgun, and in different ways. Some team members upload shots for review while others set them up for review, and some just use it to review shots. It’s a place where we put all of our media to review daily. Shotgun is also important for scheduling a team of 20. Once our team reached 10, I knew we’d need a big project management tool like Shotgun or everything would buckle; it’s almost a requirement to keep everything on track.

How did you first hear about Shotgun?
I first heard about Shotgun in 2010 and was curious, so I set up a meeting with one of their team members. We’d just started working on a project for the Cairo Children’s Museum and it was getting harder to manage the team’s schedule. Shotgun was the perfect solution. Our artists first fell in love with it when the Media App was released because it allowed them to see everyone’s work in one place. It’s become a centralized point for checking out what’s happening on every project.

Shotgun has been a big turning point for us. We’re able to submit notes and respond instantly, which reduces the chances of us missing feedback or losing something. If a director asks for something to be bigger or smaller, the only way we can be sure it’s done is through Shotgun. With notes in notebooks, things get missed, but when it’s in Shotgun it’s all there and laid out nicely, so it’s not confusing.

Which content creation tools do you use in-house?

We use the full gamut of tools from Adobe Creative Suite to Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya and The Foundry’s Nuke for compositing. We’re also using the Unity 3D engine and Thinkbox’s Deadline, Krakatoa and Frost tools.

Can you describe a recent project where using Shotgun was essential?
While working on a project we’re still finishing, we uncovered a new development with Shotgun. In 2013, we made a full dome promotional video for the Schindler Group in Switzerland. When we started to update the film we found that we could review previs in Shotgun on our dome theatre. Typically, when completing reviews of dome footage, we’re at a workstation, typing responses, annotating shots and sharing feedback with artists. With the new development, we can stream 4Kx4K images from our system or load up a browser window and view them on the dome in real-time.

This allows us to use Shotgun on the dome directly, and it’s been really great for reviewing shots. We can crop an image to where the fish eye video would play, and then draw on the frame using a laptop inside the dome and use the annotation tools. It’s fantastic, because the traditional flat screens aren’t representative, but when you can draw on the dome, you can see where the line exists in 3D space. It makes editorial decisions much easier.

Do you have any favorite features in Shotgun?
Definitely the Media App. Artists love being able to upload what they’re working on to a central place where everyone can review and annotate. It’s also super awesome when sitting with artists and talking about their reviews on different parts of the shot.

This may not be a feature, but I also like how Shotgun develops the software, which I noticed from the very beginning. Even when I request new features, they listen, often build it into their product roadmap and eventually add it. Their support team is on it, and the open line of communication they have with customers is a good approach. I love seeing them reach out to us regularly just to see how things are going. It’s impressive because artists aren’t always the first to report issues, so by reaching out to us they’re opening a forum for our artists to provide feedback. You feel a personality with Shotgun, and they’re forward-thinking in the way they approach technology and support.

What is your favorite thing about working in Leicester?
Being in the countryside. London is a huge urban area, but in the Midlands you’re surrounded by countryside and greenery. Every day, I walk to work I walk by a canal with trees. In the summer, for lunch, we sit on a little jetty overlooking the water and feed the swans; it’s a beautiful thing.

When you aren’t working, what’s the ideal way to spend a day in your city?
At the moment, gardening. My wife and I bought and moved into a house last year. It’s all tarmac, so I’ve been planting a garden, building walls and getting into home improvement. I also love watching and making films. I really have the ideal work/life setup. On the weekends I get to go out into nature and spend time with the family, and in the evenings I get to be creative and sit at my computer making cool new films.

What are the three most important things in your office?
Our Oculus Rifts hands down. They’ve become a key part of our pipeline because they make reviews easier. We can iterate more throughout the day since we don’t have to leave to the office and they free up more of our time to be creative. Number two is my tea mug, which I can’t seem to keep track of! I keep losing it, but my team members always find it before me. Finally, I have two 4K monitors. It may bother some people having high resolution, but I love being able to see everything at once; it’s like being in The Matrix.

What inspires you?
Seeing awesome work. I work here because the first time I saw full dome in 2007, it was a life changing moment. I was so blown away by it that I applied for a job at the Space Centre straight away. I’ve been working in this industry since then and I am literally never bored. When I experience immersive art, I love the feeling that I’m in a different environment. In 2008, I saw a stereoscopic dome show at the Adler planetarium in Chicago that was so impactful that it became my mission statement to become master of 3D in full dome.

We're Hiring!
We’re excited for the year ahead and are currently on the lookout for some awesome people to join our growing team. Both of these roles will directly impact some major initiatives we have planned for the year, so help us spread the word, or get in touch if you think you’re a good fit.

For those of you coming to us for the first time, Shotgun is the film, tv and games industry’s most widely adopted platform for project management and collaboration. Thousands of artists and their teams rely on Shotgun every day to stay connected and work efficiently on the world’s most amazing entertainment. We help make a difference in their lives by taking the friction and busy work out of their day so they can focus all their energy and talent on getting their work “up on the screen” for the rest of us to enjoy.
If you’re looking for the chance to work with an amazing team and some incredible customers on some really exciting challenges, come join us!

Director of Product Management

We are on the search for an experienced Director of Product Management to lead and develop our dynamic product and design team on our mission to build our next generation platform and updated suite of products and apps.

As a Director of Product Management on our team, you will work alongside Shotgun’s co-founders and directly contribute to developing the long term product strategy and short-to-long term roadmaps. You will be a unifying force for the entire product team, mentoring and supporting each product manager while also implementing just the right amount of process and tools to keep the team united while moving quickly. You’ll also work closely with engineering, marketing, and support to continually improve our product.

And most of all, you’ll get to know our customers and their needs. You’ll meet the companies who create some of the most ambitious creative projects in the world and learn how they do it. Then, you’ll lead the product team to make sure we’re launching the right tools and features with the greatest impact on our their workflow.

More info here

Director of Experience Design

We’re also searching for a talented Direct of Experience Design to build and lead our nascent design team. The work our customers do can be complicated, and our goal to give them beautiful, intuitive tools that make their work easier. As the Director of Experience Design, you’ll have the opportunity to build your dream team to pull this off. You’ll have lots of influence on product strategy and a chance to reimagine our tools across the board. Challenge us! Show us what we can be doing better. Lead the charge on making Shotgun a tool people love to use (not have to use).

The XD Director is the senior most design leader for Shotgun at Autodesk. On one side, you’ll be directly responsible for building and leading our design team, establishing and following through on initiatives, and ultimately improving the overall customer experience of our products and services. On the other side, the XD Director is accountable to corporate through dotted-line report to the VP of Experience Design for establishing and growing experience design leadership across Autodesk, ensuring universal experience standards are met for all products, and owning a design presence inside and outside of the company.

More info here
Visual Effects Society (VES) Manages VES Awards Production With Shotgun Software




From submission to entry vetting and voting, Shotgun is at the center of the awards tracking and management process.

Every winter visual effects practitioners around the world compile best-of reels showcasing impressive feats of animation, compositing and VFX in hopes of a nomination for the industry’s coveted VES Award. The Visual Effects Society (VES) goes to great lengths to ensure that hundreds of entries are qualified and vetted as part of a submission process with seemingly countless moving parts. This process, run by an awards committee made up of VFX professionals around the world, is connected and managed via Shotgun.

“We couldn’t do what we do without Shotgun; it has unified our awards process within our committee and with our vendors and sections around the globe. More importantly it continues to provide capacity to refine and improve the awards every year. I’m personally grateful to our committee co-chair Mike Romey for bringing VES and Shotgun together.” said Bob Coleman, VES Awards committee chair.

“With Shotgun, members of our awards committee are able to share notes and stay on top of the latest activity and developments in the submission, nomination and voting process no matter where they are around the country or the world. Most of our awards committee members are already familiar with Shotgun, having used it at some point in their own day-to-day production jobs, so using it to manage the VES Awards process has been pretty seamless,” said Mike Chambers, chair of the Visual Effects Society

The VES Awards are selected and voted on by industry professionals, and are regarded as one of the most prestigious honors in visual effects and animation. As submissions are entered via the VES online form, all of the information related to each entry is automatically stored in a Shotgun database for easy vetting and tracking. Each entry is associated with a secure private link to the related media clip, accessible for review in Shotgun. Throughout the nomination process, Shotgun is used to vet and track entries, and voting from the VES’ day-long viewing and nomination event (held by various VES chapters across multiple cities around the world) is also monitored and tallied in Shotgun.

About the Visual Effects Society

The Visual Effects Society is a professional global honorary society dedicated to advancing the arts, sciences and applications of visual effects and to upholding the highest standards and procedures for the visual effects profession. It is the entertainment industry's only official organization representing the extended global community of visual effects practitioners, including supervisors, artists, producers, technology developers, educators and studio executives. VES’ 3,000+ members in more than 30 countries worldwide contribute to all areas of entertainment – film, television, commercials, animation, music videos, games and new media. To learn more about the VES, visit www.visualeffectssociety.com and follow them on Twitter: @VFXSociety.

RV Wins a Sci-Tech Award!
We're so proud of Jim Hourihan, Alan Trombla and Seth Rosenthal for their Sci-Tech Award win! The three are being honored for the design and development of RV, the image and sequence viewer for VFX and animation artists around the world. We're truly honored to be working with such an awesome team.

Read more about RV and the other Sci-Tech Award Winners here.

Jim Hourihan, Alan Trombla and Seth Rosenthal 

30 Tips in 30 Days Coming Your Way!

Starting this week, we'll be introducing our new series "30 Tips in 30 Days" where we'll be sharing a Shotgun tip everyday for the next 30 days with the Shotgun community. From hot key shortcuts to accessing new parts of Shotgun, we'll help you take your Shotgun skills to the next level.


How to Follow "30 Tips in 30 Days"

If you'd like to follow along, we'll be posting each new tip on our social sites, so be sure to follow us on:






IMPORTANT - SSL Certificate Renewal and SHA-2
On Wednesday February 10th 2016, Shotgun will renew the SSL Certificate for the *.shotgunstudio.com domain. In order to improve the security of our platform, the new certificate will be using SHA-2 encryption.

It was previously using SHA-1, which means this can be a breaking change for some clients using the SG API and/or SG Toolkit.

Web UI accessed through a browser should not be a problem since they have been supporting SHA-2 for a while.

Detailed Information on SSL

More Details on SSL
The purpose of the SSL Certificate is to certify users are really communicating with Shotgun. By validating a certificate against Certified Authorities, you can be sure of who you are interacting with. The certificates are encrypted, to prevent forgery.

That identity validation is one of the first step taken when establishing any secure connection (https) to a server. When users communicate with their Shotgun site(s) they are establishing a secure connection - either through the browser, Shotgun’s Toolkit, or the Shotgun API.

In order to certify the identity of the server, applications connecting to Shotgun need to be able to decrypt the SSL Certificate to ensure an authentic connection.

Why is this change necessary?
SHA-1 is known to be weaker that it’s SHA-2 counterpart, and as a result, the community has decided to deprecate SHA-1. Already, a lot of browsers are flagging this as a minor security risk. In addition, Certificate Authorities are no longer signing certificates encrypted using SHA-1.

Read more about it here: http://www.superb.net/blog/2015/02/17/ssl-certificates-sha-2-why-should-i-upgrade/

Possible Impacts

Why can this be a breaking change?
SHA-2 is a more secure, yet newer algorithm. This means older versions of Python, including Python interpreters embedded in your Digital Content Creation Tools (DCC) may not support SHA-2 correctly. We have provided a list of applications and libraries that we know to be at risk for breaking at the end of this publication. If you are using one of these tools, you may no longer be able to establish connections to your Shotgun site through Toolkit or the SG API. Even if your tools are not listed, it is better to check if you will be impacted.

How can I know if my studio will be impacted?
We’ve given users access to a small Python script that will allow you to test if you will be impacted by this change. You can run this script within any Python environment in your studio, including DCC consoles and script editors. The output will indicate if the environment will break once the SHA-2 certificate is in place and if so verify whether a workaround for the issue is possible.

Be sure to test any operating system on which Shotgun Toolkit and Shotgun API are used, as well as all DCC versions currently in use, even if not present in the list of applications at risk.

The script can be downloaded or copy and pasted from:

https://gist.github.com/robblau/01ac5b583bc9e6a00d11

My studio is impacted… now what?
We suggest that users update the version of the tool(s) being used. Since the community has embraced this transition to SHA-2, it is likely this issue has been fixed in the latest versions of these tools.
If you are unable to update for any reason, please reach out to Shotgun Support. There are known workarounds and we will inform you of alternative options.

Known Applications and Tools at risk

- Python 2.5 and below
- Python 2.6 on Windows and Mac
- OpenSSL version prior to 0.9.8o
- Maya 2013 and below (Windows and Mac)
- Motion Builder 2013 and below (Windows)
- Nuke 6.3v9 and below (Windows and Mac)
- Houdini 12.5 and below (Windows and Linux)
- Hiero 1.9v1 and below (probably Windows only) 
- Softimage 2013 and below (probably Windows only)
Happy Holidays!
Wishing everyone a happy holiday and a great new year!

We're a distributed team from all over the world and use video conferencing on the daily to stay in sync. A few years back, we started a tradition known as the 'Shotgun Choir' to celebrate special occasions and holidays.

Without further ado, please enjoy Shotgun's rendition of "Jingle Bells" awesomified by the wonders of audio delays.



Two Guys and a Toolkit - Week 10: Pipeline Terminology & Series Wrap Up

New to Shotgun or Toolkit? Check out Our Story, learn about Our Product, or get a Quick Toolkit Overview. If you have specific questions, please visit our Support Page!

Pipeline Terminology & Series Wrap Up

Hi everyone! Josh here. Welcome back for part ten of our series dedicated to building a simple pipeline using Toolkit. Here are links to the previous posts, just in case you missed anything:
  1. Introduction, Planning, & Toolkit Setup
  2. Configuration
  3. Publishing
  4. Grouping
  5. Publishing from Maya to Nuke
  6. Dataflow and Workflow
  7. Multi-Location Workflows
  8. Subscriptions
  9. Status and Cleanup
This week we’re going to wrap up the series by talking a little bit about pipeline terminology. More specifically, we’re going to throw out some words and we’d like to know how you’re using them in your facility. I’ll provide a little bit of insight and opinion, but this is your opportunity to share your thoughts on what terms make the most sense for a given concept. 

Pipeline Terminology

It seems highly unlikely that there will ever be a day when everyone agrees on a common pipeline language. There are decades of history and culture at various facilities that definitely do not align and I know some people who feel very strongly that their way is the right way. But it would be great to get a discussion going to try and at least understand why we use certain words and whether it makes sense to use different words. Maybe there is some common ground we can meet on. What follows are a few key terms that I hope will jump start the conversation. 

Asset

I have to admit that when I started on the Toolkit team and started learning about Shotgun, the term Asset was confusing to me. When you spend 10+ years thinking of assets in the “digital asset” sense, moving into Shotgun land requires some synapse remapping. That said, the word I came to know and use when referring to a cg character/prop/environment was a totally made up word that doesn’t need to be mentioned here. But I’m still not convinced Asset is the right word to refer to this high level concept of a thing that needs to be created in various forms and pushed through a pipeline. What do you think? How does the word Asset sit with you when you think about what it represents in Shotgun. Do you have a better word?

Let’s assume for a minute that Asset, as it is used in Shotgun, is the best word for the job. If so, then I need a new word to describe production files and their associated metadata. In the Shotgun sense these are just files that may eventually be tracked as PublishedFiles. Maybe that’s sufficient, but I’ve worked on a couple of pipelines that have tracked metadata for files, and collections of files, before they were published for downstream consumption. In the last pipeline I worked on, we called these Products. I’m curious if your facility tracks files similarly or if you have a different word you use for this concept. 

Version

In the Shotgun world, the Version entity represents reviewable media. This is another one that really confused me when I joined the team and, even more so than Asset, made me feel like people were speaking a totally different language. Every time I hear someone say they’ve “uploaded a new Version to Shotgun”, my immediate (internal) response is still “a version of what?”

I’ve heard a number of other words used to describe what Shotgun calls a Version including: Take, Clip, Media, Movie, Daily, and Reviewable. What terms do you use? If Version isn’t the best name in your opinion, what word would you use?  In my idealistic world, a Version is just a number, or string, that is tied to an iteration of something: ProductVersion, WorkAreaVersion, TaskVersion, etc. On its own, the word just seems too generic. 

App

We talked about this one early on in the series, but I’d like to get your input on it as well. In the Toolkit sense, an App is a piece of functionality or UI that runs within an engine. Usually the engine is tied to digital content creation (DCC) software, such as Maya or Nuke, which many of us are used to calling the application, or app for short. Now, if someone comes to me with a problem on production, and I ask them which app they were running when the error occurred, will they say they were using Maya? Or will they say they were in the Publisher? I’m guessing it depends on the user, but I personally think there’s an opportunity to clean up this terminology a bit and make the question a little less ambiguous.

Perhaps one obvious direction would would be to call these things Toolkit Tools instead of Apps. I guess you could argue that you don’t create tools with a toolkit. On the other hand, you could argue that a toolkit comes with a set of Tools (Publisher, Loader, Panel, etc). So which sounds better to you, Publisher App or Publisher Tool? It would be great to get your input on this. Are you fine with App? Do you like Tool? Or do you have another term that you like better? 

Other terminology

Here is a list we put together with a few other words that might be considered overused or confusing when talking to other pipeline folks. Have you had a conversation with someone from another studio whose definition of one of these was completely different from yours? Please let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear your stories regarding pipeline terminology and how it might be improved in Shotgun or across the industry in general. 
  1. Task
  2. Job
  3. Shot vs. Scene
  4. Stage
  5. Group vs. Collection vs. Assembly
  6. Track
  7. Pipeline vs. Workflow
I’ve said it a couple of times throughout this series, but it’s worth saying again. Regardless of what terms we use to describe our pipelines, it’s consistency that is the key. The more your production teams speak the same production language, the more efficient your studio will be. I think that’s one place where the Toolkit platform has it right. The fact that each production department can use the same toolset to interact with the pipeline and its data makes communication and support much easier in the long run.

Series Wrap Up

Hi everyone, Jeff here. We have reached the end of the series, so we thought we would take this opportunity to discuss what questions we’ve answered for ourselves.

Are there gaps to fill in the pipeline?

I think we would need to answer yes to this question. The first issue that we ran up against was publishing look development data in the form of shader networks. This portion of a studio’s workflow will likely vary depending on what DCCs are being used to produce characters, props, and other assets, so the need to implement a custom solution feels mostly appropriate.

The second gap, and the one that is most significant, is the lack of a publish routine for rendered elements out of a 3D DCC (like Maya). This can be a challenging portion of the workflow to develop depending on the desired behavior, but the fact that Toolkit doesn’t come with any implementation at all, even just for the sake of providing an example, came as a surprise to us.

What’s the biggest hurdle to jump when learning Toolkit?

We would agree that figuring out how to work with pipeline configurations, and the masses of YAML data contained within them, presents the biggest roadblock to quick progress. There is a huge amount of information contained in the very deep and complex configuration system that drives the behavior of Toolkit. Tackling that portion of the learning curve is extremely daunting, even for experienced pipeline engineers like ourselves.

The great thing is that everyone else on the Toolkit team agrees with us, and one of the highest priorities is adding polish to this portion of Toolkit. The idea is that the YAML data will still be there, but we’ll be removing some of the need to edit it by hand. If Shotgun Desktop can provide an interface for managing certain portions of a configuration then everyone wins.

Can advanced pipeline features be implemented using Toolkit?

Again, we can answer yes depending on what features are being discussed. During the course of the series we outlined proof of concept implementations of things like PublishedFile grouping and PublishedFile statuses.

There are limitations in the configuration system that make multi-location or cloud-based workflows problematic, however. That is an area of Toolkit that is currently getting some attention, though. The “cloud config” project mentioned in this week’s webinar is currently in development, and will address many of these limitations.

Conclusion

So that wraps up our 10 week series on building a simple pipeline using Toolkit! We really enjoyed going through this process with you and we appreciate you allowing us to expand the topics outside of the initial scope of the series. We appreciate all of the feedback and comments we’ve received, and we hope you’ve enjoyed following along. As always, we encourage you to keep the conversation going and let us know if you have questions about Shotgun, Toolkit, or pipelines in general. We’re available via email or on the Shotgun support site anytime you need to reach us. 

In the coming weeks, we’ll be putting together a standalone tutorial for setting up a simple, end-to-end pipeline using Shotgun and Toolkit. This tutorial will take all of the things we learned throughout this process and centralize them into a document that can be used by folks as they begin their own exploration of Toolkit. We’ve gotten some great suggestions in the comments and in support tickets, but if you have any additional input on what you’d like to see in the tutorial, please do let us know.

Once again, thanks for following along! 

About Jeff & Josh 

Jeff was a Pipeline TD, Lead Pipeline TD, and Pipeline Supervisor at Rhythm and Hues Studios over a span of 9 years. After that, he spent 2+ years at Blur Studio as Pipeline Supervisor. Between R&H and Blur, he has experienced studios large and small, and a wide variety of both proprietary and third-party software. He also really enjoys writing about himself in the third person. 

Josh followed the same career path as Jeff in the Pipeline department at R&H, going back to 2003. In 2010 he migrated to the Software group at R&H and helped develop the studio’s 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. 

Jeff & Josh joined the Toolkit team in August of 2015.

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