Get to know... Jellyfish Pictures
Matt Plummer, 2D Lead and TD at Jellyfish
Established in 2001, Jellyfish provides a full range of visual effects, animation and motion graphics services and has earned BAFTA, Emmy and VES Award recognition for its work. We spoke with Jellyfish Pictures’ Matt Plummer, who handles both 2D Lead and TD responsibilities out of the studio’s Brixton location in South London. Shotgun has been part of Jellyfish’s workflow for a while, but Matt recently integrated it more deeply using Shotgun’s Pipeline Toolkit to automate repetitive tasks, free artists’ time to create, and enable more iterations.

Tell us about Jellyfish and the type of projects you work on.
Jellyfish has two sides. The Noho studio on Margaret Street mostly handles live action film, TV and advertising projects, working on notable entertainment like “Star Wars Rogue One”, “Black Mirror” or “Outlander.” Our Brixton studio specializes in animation, largely for children’s TV. We’re currently working on “Dennis and Gnasher Unleashed (Dennis the Menace),” along with “Bitz n' Bob” for the BBC. Last year we worked on a kids series called “Floogals,” which is now available in the US. We also just opened a third studio – the Oval office, which is an extension of the Brixton studio.

What content creation tools do you use in-house?
We are entirely Maya-based, with a little bit of Mudbox, MARI and Zbrush. For compositing, we use NUKE; motion graphics is done in After Effects and editorial is done in Premiere.


How did you first hear about Shotgun?
I’ve been a compositor for many years so I’d used Shotgun for shot management at previous studios. When I came to Jellyfish, they were using it for basic production, but I was an instigator for using it more heavily and leveraging Pipeline Toolkit as a pipeline configuration. Now I write a lot of applications and systems for publishing from Shotgun, then doing the review process through RV and Shotgun.

What prompted you to move towards the technical side of VFX?
It was kind of organic. I did Codecademy and learned Python two years ago. I joined Jellyfish as a lead compositor for “Floogals” and during the project, I wrote the pipeline for comp. That’s expanded to me setting up Pipeline Toolkit across every project and multiple parts of it.

Which aspect do you enjoy more? Or is there a comparison?
I think they complement each other. For example, part of what we were doing on “Floogals” was assembling bash comps automatically through Shotgun. Lighting would publish passes to Shotgun and I’d coded a template system that reads those passes and tries to create a composite of them. If you’ve got 150 shots in an episode, you can create a first version super quickly with that level of automation. I’m quite surprised how much I’ve enjoyed the programming side of VFX, but it’s a completely different satisfaction than you’d get from comping.



How does your background as an artist inform your work as a TD?
Having experience using the application you’re writing software for is always going to be a huge help. Instead of trying to interpret what someone might want, you know exactly what works best for their needs.

“Shotgun is a lifesaver for every project… I can’t imagine doing another season of “Floogals” without Shotgun; we wouldn’t be able to do it.”

What’s a recent project that Shotgun was particularly useful for?
Shotgun is a lifesaver for every project. If you have to deliver 52 episodes with 150-200 shots per episode, and you’ve got animation, lighting and composting, it’s immensely helpful to be able to track statuses of several assets used in those shots, the actual progress of those shots, which asset is used on which shot, and generally automate processes for those shots and assets. Having Shotgun means it’s all organized and it’s all easy. Instead of opening a Maya file and exporting an OBJ every time it’s needed, I can write a Shotgun application then a right click automatically publishes those OBJs. I can’t imagine doing another season of “Floogals” without Shotgun; we wouldn’t be able to do it.

What are your favorite features of Shotgun?
We started out by just using Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit for Maya and had our own pipeline for NUKE, and in the last six months or so, we’ve added Pipeline Toolkit for NUKE and Photoshop, and soon we’ll be adding MARI. Pipeline Toolkit provides a lot of free useful features that remove tasks you’d normally have to work out yourself – like where work files are located on disk, how it publishes, generating QuickTimes for publishers and what it’s actually publishing. It handles all the little things really well, which is especially great for someone like me who is still learning Python. I only need to configure the high level bits and pieces rather than manually coding them. I think my favorite bit about Shotgun is that you have so much access to its inner workings through Pipeline Toolkit and the Python API. You’ve got a lot of power to make it do what you want. It’s made my life a lot easier for sure; that’s my favorite feature.


How much effort do you focus on building out the pipeline?
It depends on what you’re setting up that pipeline to do. In terms of just installing Pipeline Toolkit and getting the basics, it’s super easy. Building custom applications depends on the difficulty of what you’re trying to make it do, but if I can learn Python and get full studio pipeline working, pretty much anyone can do it.

“By automating parts of your pipeline or your general workflow, you’re freeing artists’ time to create.”

Would you encourage up-and-coming artists to learn Python?
If you’re using NUKE or Maya, Python is the programming language to learn. I’d encourage people to at least have a very basic knowledge. If I had learned Python earlier, it would have saved me a lot of time. I didn’t realize the time I could have saved. I think almost everyone’s had to do a simple but tedious task at some point and thought, ‘a robot should be doing this.’ Learning to code is how you build that robot. By automating parts of your pipeline or your general workflow, you’re freeing artists’ time to create.

What’s a typical day in your life?
I start the morning by looking at my task list, then tackle the biggest problem or the largest new piece of pipeline, or design a tool around a short-term problem and proceed from there. Most of my day is currently spent programming, but I’m also involved with meetings to organize workflow, pipeline and on-set supervision for upcoming TV shows. It's a mixture of pipeline coding and preparing for new shows’ compositing. There’s also normally fried chicken once a week – my current favorite is from a place called Chicken Liquor.

What inspires you creatively?
I’ve found that I’m strongest when responding to other people’s work, not just in visual arts but writing as well. That serves as a sort of springboard for my own ideas. I don’t think artists can live in a vacuum and art, whether music, film or other visual media, is always a reflection of either the world around someone or the influence of someone’s environment.



How do you unwind?
I try to listen to three new albums each week. I grew up listening to metal, rock and some electronic music, but in the last five to six years, I’ve branched out to almost anything. I think virtual reality (VR) and the future of that technology is super interesting too, so I try to keep up to date on it. I also read an awful lot of books, mostly science fiction but not exclusively. And I play guitar, but horribly.

What are your general predictions for VR?
People are only going to be content staring at flat movie screens for so long. I don’t think VR will replace film, but there are logical evolutions to visual media that involve VR or VR might be a stepping stone towards what’s next. It’s tough to predict its level of success because the entry point is so expensive at the moment, but I think it’s fair to say there’s a future for immersive digital content. I don’t know if that’s within 10 years or 100 years, but it’s great fun.

What led you to visual effects?
It started out as a hobby. During university, I had a friend who directed short films and I became his FX guy. I was constantly messing around with software and making things explode in his films. I was also part of an online community called FXhome, which is now HitFilm. While earning a Digital Arts degree, I discovered there was a VFX industry in London. I had naively assumed it was all in Hollywood. I got a job as a runner at a production studio and learned NUKE through FXPHD.com in my spare time. Eventually, I got a job as a roto artist working on “Prince of Persia” and it sort of went from there. I kind of got lucky really.

What’s your advice for someone wanting to get into VFX?
A big part of your daily job is knowing software, but software will only get you so far, so learn technique. Also, work out exactly what you want to do in VFX and then specialize, whether it’s in compositing, editing, animation, modeling, lighting, etc. These are all components of a very large pipeline and its good to know early on that you should focus on one aspect of it rather than trying to be the whole show, because that’s how most big studios work. Try to get involved with global or local VFX communities because you should have an understanding of your prospective employment environment. It can also be helpful to seek out a trainee finder or skillset recruitment program that will place you into a facility.


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Meet James, our new Head of Product

After a year-long search, I am very excited to announce James Pycock has joined our team as Head of Product. He will lead our product and design teams on our mission to build you the next gen Shotgun you’ll need to tackle another decade of production projects.

James is just our kind of big-meets-small, powerful-meets-fast. He has decades of experience working on products we all use every day, such as Amazon’s Alexa (before Amazon) and Skype. He’s worked in massive companies like Microsoft, leveraging the scale and strength to reach a global audience at scale, but he also has a scrappy get-it-done mentality he’s cultivated in more than ten years at start-ups. He’s worked on products for businesses and products for consumers, and is widely published on the topic of making the customer the center of technology design. He has nine related industry patents, and has a PhD in designing collaboration technologies. So he’s really Dr. Pycock, but he insists we all just call him James.

"For me, the future of productivity for creative teams is going to be all about collaboration,” said James. “Shotgun has worked so closely with customers to innovate and build what creative professionals really need. And, as the industry continues to evolve, we have new opportunities to even further reduce coordination overhead and pipeline process friction. I fell in love with the vision and jumped at the chance to join the team and help take the product to the next level."

I am really excited about the next Shotgun era and know we are in good hands with James. Please help me welcome him to the Shotgun team! james.pycock@shotgunsoftware.com

P.S. Thanks to Caroline and her team at Forward who helped us on this epic, global talent search. You all rock.

90 Days at Rodeo FX: A Toolkit Story
My name is Jean-François Boismenu and I have been working on Shotgun Toolkit for a little over two years. However, I recently moved out of my comfy basement at home working on Toolkit and into a studio environment as an intern at Rodeo FX. See, while the rest of the Toolkit team are production veterans, I've been working at Autodesk for almost 13 years now and have never worked in a studio. Fortunately for me, the team at Rodeo FX gave me the opportunity to join their development team as a Senior Software Pipeline Developer Intern for a few months. I get to learn what it's like working in close collaboration with artists and developers on an actual production and they get a Toolkit specialist in-house.


Now that I'm halfway through my time at Rodeo FX, we felt it would be a great opportunity to share glimpses of what I am learning – how Shotgun and Toolkit are used and how they perform at Rodeo FX. Even with many production veterans on the Toolkit team, our clients keep reminding us of their ingenuity, the scale they work at, and their knack for pushing the limits of our platform, inspiring us to constantly up our game.

The first big lesson I've learned while being at Rodeo FX is that it’s becoming harder to predict how fast clients will need to scale as production demands continue to grow. I was amazed to learn that some projects at Rodeo FX can contain upwards of 10,000 tasks, and on one project an asset had close to 10,000 individually versioned publishes! Shotgun was designed to scale, but in production there often seems to be one asset or shot that can push the limit of what the pipeline can handle. Seeing the scale of work at Rodeo FX is a good reminder of how we need to keep optimizing our platform to help our clients meet these challenges in their productions every day.

Rodeo FX has won 3 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Visual Effects on HBO's Game of Thrones.






The second big lesson I've learned is that sometimes less is more. Take the loader for example. It provides a way to configure a list of tabs with customizable entity types and filters, and you can see any publishes in your project and their entire history. While this tool is incredibly powerful and useful when you want to see a full view of a project, if, for example, you are going to do some roto work and the only thing you are interested in is the camera you’re supposed to be using to complete your work, the app may present you with more information than you need.

Rodeo FX completed nearly 200 VFX shots for The Legend of Tarzan, including action sequences with CG hippos





The folks at Rodeo FX have written their own loader for compositing artists. It’s a simple toolbar button that gives access to the latest publishes, each grouped in a sub menu named after the pipeline step. Each publish even has a status icon. The artist gets quick access to the required files, grouped in a clean way and ordered from newest to oldest, which I think is really cool.

I look forward to this continued partnership, even though Rodeo FX has a stricter dress code than my home basement.

If you've had similar experiences with Toolkit applications, don't hesitate to share them with us in the comments and/or reach us at support@shotgunsoftware.com.

About JF
JF joined Autodesk straight out of university and has had the chance to work on multiple projects over the past 13 years, but never had the chance to work in a studio environment and experience what production is like. To remediate this, we approached Rodeo FX a couple of months ago and pitched the idea of him interning at their company so he could learn more about how artists work and how a pipeline is run first hand. In return, Rodeo FX has an extra pair of hands to work on their pipeline.

About Rodeo FX
Founded in 2006, Rodeo FX has grown to 350 artists and visual effects professionals with studios in Montréal, Los Angeles and Québec City. The company has created award-winning visual effects for close to 80 feature films, including Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Tim Burton), The Legend of Tarzan, The Walk (Oscar nominee), Birdman (Oscar winner), Incendies, Enemy and Arrival, by Denis Villeneuve. The studio also won VES awards for its visual effects in Game of Thrones (2015) and Birdman (2015), as well as three Emmys for its work on Game of Thrones (2014, 2015, 2016). Rodeo FX’s advertising division is the creator of, among others, an ad for Nike (2016) and the opening sequence for NBC’s 2015 NFL Super Bowl. For more information, visit rodeofx.com.























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Meet the Studio: Mammal Studios
We recently had the chance to visit boutique VFX house Mammal Studios to chat with them about everything from the magic of the movie making business to how Shotgun has enabled their 12-person team to operate "like a mammal."

Meet the Team
The team at Mammal shares what it's like working in the heart of historic Hollywood, the importance of team collaboration, and why they're excited to come to work every day.



Acting Like a Mammal
In a world of quick turnarounds and soaring production demands, the team explains how Shotgun helps them stay as nimble and efficient as possible. 




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Shotgun Street Smarts: An Inside Look at Cyborn
Shotgun has amazing clients all over the world creating beautiful media. I recently got to speak with project manager Ken Vandecappelle and associate producer Iris Delafortry from Cyborn about how they use Shotgun. Cyborn is a film producer and 3D animation and motion capture studio based in Antwerp, Belgium.

This is Cyborn’s first year using Shotgun, and the team is using it to work on a feature film project called, Ploey, You Never Fly Alone. This 3D animation feature film is a co-production between Cyborn and GunHil, a studio based in Iceland. About 30 people at Cyborn are now using Shotgun, as well as eight people at GunHil.






Ploey is about a plover, a type of small bird common in Iceland.

“It’s a family film with beautiful animals and lots of action,” Iris said. “It’s about the fascinating adventure of a young plover, who needs to survive the strong arctic winter and his natural enemies.”

“The beautiful environments and designs were inspired by the fascinating landscapes of Iceland,” Ken said.




“We should have the film in theaters by Christmas next year, so by 2017,” Iris said. “There's already a teaser online so it gives you an idea of the story.”



Why Shotgun?
“We decided it would be beneficial for both parties to have some sort of system to share information,” Ken said. “And it didn't take us long to realize that Shotgun was something that was widely used in the entertainment business.”

One of the biggest reasons to use Shotgun was because of the amount of collaboration required for an animated movie project. “We needed something that was easy and flexible enough so we could communicate with the other parties,” he explained.

Another big reason was because Shotgun is part of Autodesk, Ken said. Autodesk acquired Shotgun in 2014.

“Because we use Autodesk tools, it was a logical step for us,” Ken said. “We knew that if Shotgun was part of Autodesk, it would not disappear in a year. It was really important for us to know that Shotgun was still going to be alive when we finish Ploey, so we can use it for other projects in the future.”

Learning Shotgun
It took a couple months for Ken to understand how Shotgun works, by watching tutorials and contacting the Street team, he said. After Ken became more familiar with Shotgun, he said everything felt like second nature, and he is now ready to implement more features.

“I'm pretty sure we can do a lot more in the next few years, because our knowledge will only expand in that regard,” he said. “Our experience will probably change again in a couple months, because by then we will have added so much more new data and we will have evaluated so much more new stuff. For that, as far as I am concerned, we’re going in the right direction.”

Ken said the next phase will be to teach everyone else at Cyborn how to use Shotgun.

“It’s one thing to know everything yourself; it's a whole different matter to explain to somebody else,” he said. “We still have a long way to go because not everybody is at the point where I'm satisfied with their knowledge about Shotgun, but that's okay. We're working at it one day at a time.”

Working with Street
Both Ken and Iris said they were impressed with Shotgun’s Street team and the support they received.

“We were really surprised in the beginning; they responded and followed up so quickly,” Iris said.

According to Ken, it’s also nice to see that the people from the tutorials are actually on the support team.

Cyborn’s workflow
Because Cyborn is working with GunHil, Cyborn’s workflow starts with the work they get from GunHil. This includes concept and layout.

“During our “weeklies” [weekly meetings, sic] we go over the layout and all parties come together to decide what is good and what needs to be changed,” Ken said. “That includes animation, so the supervisors are also present.”

The next stage involves the environment pipeline steps, as well as working on hair and fur. After that is lighting, and compositing and special effects, and then the work is sent to GunHil for final compositing and sound.





To review work with GunHil, Cyborn uses Screening Room. However, the team uses RV internally.

“RV has more functionalities,” Ken said. “It’s faster because you don't have to access the internet to play your files, and it still collects data from Shotgun Studio. But you have more functionalities; you can put movies on top of each other to actually see what’s different. You can place them all next to each other and get a better overview. So the supervisors and the artists can choose which version they think is best.”

Cyborn is also using Toolkit, although they are still working on its customization so that everyone in the studio can use it.

“We use Toolkit mainly for publishing, but we’re still scripting on that,” he said. “Not everybody is using it right now but we have implemented it.”

Favorite Shotgun features
“I think the feature that I’ve used most until now is the RV player to get all the shots together,” Ken said. “I really like the history filter; it enables you to compare different versions, which makes it easier to review the data.”

Ken also said that even though he initially had trouble with Shotgun’s filtering system, he now finds it really helpful.

“The filtering system is also something I love,” he said. “It's very complex and robust and you can look everything up. The problem is, you just need to find it. But once you get to know it, it's really nice, because you can customize the system by saving your personal filters and your own pages.”

Next steps in Shotgun
“I think if we were to have a new production the same size, starting right now, then we would use Shotgun for it as well,” Iris said.

“We just scratched the surface,” Ken said. “I think the next step is to get everybody on the same level as me, so everybody knows how to use all the apps and features. That will probably be one of my major challenges. And I do not even know everything, so we still have a long way to go. Like I said, we have a good support team [Shotgun Street team] that we can depend on.”





About Sabrina:
Sabrina joined the Street Team in October 2015—after working in book publishing and instructional design, building online courses about films and games. Now she gets to spend her days helping clients learn everything they need to know about Shotgun, which includes writing how-to articles, developing multimedia and interactive content, and taking advantage of Shotgun’s tools to track it all. She spends her nights geeking out about dinosaurs with her husband on their podcast, I Know Dino. Fun fact: The time between when Stegosaurus lived and when T-rex lived is longer than the time between when T-rex lived and now.

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Get to know... Animatrik
We recently spoke with Brett Ineson, the president and CTO of Animatrik. Founded by Ineson in 2001 in Vancouver, Animatrik is a leading provider of motion capture and virtual production services, working with clients across film, TV, and games. With the largest mocap sound stage in North America, the studio has to track massive amounts of data on a daily basis. Read on to find out how Shotgun helps the Animatrik team stay focused.

Tell us about your company and the type of projects you work on. 
Animatrik is a performance capture and virtual production studio headquartered in Vancouver. Our business is split between video games and film. Some of our recent titles include the Warcraft film, Suicide Squad, and the upcoming Gears of War game.

How many people in your studio are using Shotgun? Are they based in multiple locations? 
We have a total of 45 people that are split between two studios in Vancouver and LA, and about 40 of them – mostly artists, producers, and supervisors – are using Shotgun across both locations. 

How did you first hear about Shotgun? 
Just from following industry trends – we started to notice people using Shotgun more and more. When we first started Animatrik, we were tracking production through Excel and realized pretty quickly that Shotgun could take care of the heavy lifting. That was about five or six years ago.

What content creation tools do you use in-house? 
We use Maya, MotionBuilder, Giant, Blade, Motive, and some proprietary tools for tracking and solving motion capture data. Some of our custom tools package up deliverables and materials for clients; these tools will actually re-edit and re-cut data and video on our server, and those all interact with Shotgun.

Can you describe a recent project where Shotgun was particularly useful? 
A recent project we worked on is the new Gears of War game. It was a big project that spanned 18 months or so with lots of different shoots and data to track. Shotgun really helped us manage our resources. We could see how many people we had on a particular part of the pipeline, know where we were on the workload, and make sure we were on track and could move people around from other projects if needed.


What are your favorite features of Shotgun and what do you primarily use it for? 

We use Shotgun for all our projects to track mocap and facial tracking data, share videos of shoots with our clients, and let people quickly jump in and see where a shot is in the pipeline. We’ve also implemented a process that updates the Shotgun database in real time as we’re conducting a mocap shoot.

My favorite feature is the ability to use Shotgun’s Python API to write scripts and the off-cloud daemon so that Shotgun tells us when it’s time to pull data out and triggers an automated process on our servers to deliver work.

How much effort do you focus on building out the pipeline? 
We put a lot of effort into it – we have two people on pipeline full time making sure data is moving around the way we need it to and is in the state we need it to be in. We do work with the Shotgun support team on occasion, since we have customization for our proprietary tools. We also do a lot of timecode math in the background. It is comforting knowing that our own algorithms are being executed automatically by Shotgun.

What do you do to stay connected to the artist community? 
I frequent all of the usual trade shows, SIGGRAPH and games conferences, and I’ve started going to shows in Europe as well. I always connect with great people there and see what other people are doing and what’s helping them stay efficient and creative.

What is your favorite thing about being in Vancouver? 

I’m a skier and mountain biker so I love being close to the mountains. I was lucky that half the industry moved to Vancouver. I’m from Toronto originally and I was living/working in LA before I decided to start Animatrik up here.

What led you to visual effects? 
I had been doing animation and motion capture for most of my career. One of the things that I did for quite awhile was consult and install mocap stages for companies. After I did a bunch of those I decided to just install one for myself!

What is the biggest challenge in running a studio today? 
The VFX industry is pretty aggressive when it comes to pricing and can have a race-to-the-bottom approach. It can be a challenge to navigate through that, keep your business healthy, and better serve both employees and clients in the end.

Solving Human Performance from Animatrik on Vimeo.


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Shotgun Street Smarts: Scheduling Tips and Tricks
A few weeks ago, Tram talked about getting started in Shotgun, including setting up your workflows. Today, I want to give a shout out to all those hard-working coordinators and managers out there who are in charge of the schedule, and suggest some helpful tips.

Scheduling a Project usually involves juggling multiple people and numerous departments across various Projects. That’s a lot to handle! So how can Shotgun help you achieve transparency across your schedule and allow you to manage your teams simply and effectively? Enter the Tasks and Gantt view!

Screen Shot 2016-09-14 at 3.08.54 pm.png

When I worked in production, I lived on Shotgun. Even more so, I lived on Task Views and Pages as they gave me clarity over what my teams were working on and what still needed to be completed. It also allowed me to see the Project as a cohesive and collaborate whole—how my teams affected downstream departments as well as how my teams influenced upstream departments.

Creating and assigning Tasks
Tasks are the smallest component of work that need to be completed against an Entity (something you track) in Shotgun. You can create Tasks in numerous ways which we talk about over on our Support site. Once you have your Tasks created, it’s time to get scheduling!

One of the most commonly used scheduling tricks is to create an “Unassigned” saved filter. This filter allows you to easily see what Tasks you’ve yet to assign out with a single click. To create an unassigned saved filter, head on over to a Tasks View/Page, click on [+ New Saved Filter], and set the conditions as below:

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Once you’ve assigned all your Tasks, you might want to view whether you’ve balanced your assignments equally across your artists. The easiest way to do this is from—you guessed it!—the Tasks view. Simply Group your Tasks by Assigned To to display how many Tasks you assigned to each artist and from there you can decide whether they can complete this amount of work in time.

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Filtering Tasks
Another handy feature of the Tasks View is the ability to narrow down by department using the Filter Panel and the Pipeline Steps filters. If you’re working at a large studio, Pipeline Steps are usually closely related to departments and you may want to create a saved filter with just the department relevant to your teams. That way you can toggle between all Tasks and how they influence each other, and Tasks just relevant to you.

Screen Shot 2016-09-14 at 3.26.25 pm.png

As production ramps up, it will be important to narrow down to specific Tasks to see how your teams are tracking. This is when the Filter Panel comes into play. Here you can filter to display Tasks that are a specific status, or click next to the Field condition name to toggle on the *is not* filter. The *is not* filter will allow you to display Tasks that are not a specific status, such as final/complete, without having to manually check on all the other filter conditions.

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A pro tip when using the Filter Panel is to hold down the Command/Windows key, which allows you to multi-select filter conditions without the page updating until you release the Command/Windows key.

Generating reports
A Project’s production is rarely a solo effort, and as a coordinator or manager, you’ll often be asked to present a report on how your teams are tracking. A report in Shotgun is a page with applied filters, color formatting, and field layouts. Let’s say you want to create an Anim Department report for any Tasks due this week. You would create the saved filter as below:

Screen Shot 2016-09-14 at 3.37.48 pm.png

Because you used the dynamic filter token of “current week”, you won’t need to manually recreate this report each week as it will dynamically update as the data changes—another benefit to using Shotgun and its live data!

Color formatting
You might also want to highlight Tasks that are overdue in a report. To do this, you can create a new formatting rule for Tasks that were due before the current date (again using the dynamic token so you don’t need to manually update this report) where the status *is not* complete/final.

Step 1:

Screen Shot 2016-09-14 at 3.43.39 pm.png

Step 2:
Select either a New Page rule or Global Rule.

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Step 3:

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Once you’re happy with the report, you can click on the Page Icon > Save Page As and name the new Page “Weekly Anim Department report”. You can then access this page whenever you need to, without having to recreate the page or reset filters due to the dynamic tokens.

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That’s it for this week! If you have any scheduling tips and tricks, please let us know in the comments.

About Astrid:
Astrid is the Shotgun APAC Program Manager who brings a wealth of experience from having worked both as a VFX artist and on the Production side. She’s based in Melbourne, Australia. She has two cats—one of which is perpetually climbing on her keyboard to try and answer her tickets. If you receive any strange replies, apologies—​it was the cat!


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Get to know... The Sequence Group
We recently spoke with The Sequence Group, a boutique studio using Shotgun’s Review tools and Pipeline Toolkit to deliver complex projects that would otherwise be difficult for a company of its size to manage. Sequence handles live action production, animation and visual effects for everything from commercials to marketing materials, in-game cinematics, live events and more. The company maintains a base of 10-15 full time employees and expands to up to 40 based on project demands. Creative Director/Founder Ian Kirby and Lead Animator Anne Jans filled us in on some of the latest projects they’ve worked on across their Vancouver headquarters and satellite Melbourne, Australia location.



How did you first hear about Shotgun? 
Ian: I heard about Shotgun years ago, but it was too expensive for a studio of our size. After the license fee was reduced, we gave it a second look. Shotgun acquiring RV was the incentive we needed to finally make the commitment, and we implemented Shotgun about a year ago. Having all of our projects linked online, and also locally on our servers, combined with the automated Autodesk Maya integration sold us completely.

“We don’t have TDs or developers on staff, so in-house capabilities for custom code are limited. That’s why Shotgun, and in particular Pipeline Toolkit, is so fantastic for us. We don’t have time to write tools ourselves, and Shotgun has been completely plug-and-play for us,” said Kirby.

What was involved in the Pipeline Toolkit integration for you?
Ian: The integration was pretty easy. Anne is a lead animator and not a coder, but she set up our whole integration in a few hours.

Anne: We figured out how to get Pipeline Toolkit up and running pretty quickly as the process is very well documented online, complete with videos that I found helpful. We primarily are using Toolkit for Maya integration with Shotgun. It’s been great. All of our assets, shots, scenes, and playlists are submitted into Shotgun directly from Maya with the entire folder structure that we’ve adjusted to our needs and preferences. So on the 3D side, we use everything that Pipeline Toolkit offers out of the box.

What have you been working on recently?
Ian: We recently did a full-CG commercial for the “Marvel Avengers Alliance 2 Civil War” mobile game release. We handled everything from start to finish, from storyboards to final delivery, based on a script developed at Ant Farm in Los Angeles. For the Marvel spot, we had artists collaborating from offices in Vancouver and Australia, and only had six weeks to complete the 30-seconds of CG. There’s no way we could have delivered that job in time without Shotgun.

We also just finished a Claymation-inspired commercial for Slack. It’s very different from our other work, and involved ten different locations, and a shot with hundreds of characters. It was a project with many moving parts, and we relied heavily on the pipeline to pull it off.

Why is pipeline such an important consideration?

Ian: It is very essential. Having a solid pipeline in place can save hundreds of hours of wasted time. It allows you to see where you’re at on a project at any given time, and avoid chasing down missing assets, or mistakenly working with old assets or bad renders. With a bad pipeline everything falls apart, so it took us a while to get here, but now we can’t imagine how we did other projects without it.

How is Shotgun most useful to the way that you work?
Ian: I find it incredibly handy to have access to mobile review. Most of the day, I’m on my iPhone moving around the studio, so being able to check things quickly and provide comments without breaking up the feedback loop, even when I’m not at my desk, is great. Client review is also super user friendly; the mobile interface is really well developed.

We’re also huge fans of RV. We can sit with clients reviewing shots and instantly pull up animatics, pencil sketches or any other shots without having to dig through a folder structure manually to find what we need to review. I really like being able to review multiple versions of the latest shots overlaid or side-by-side, which really helps make the client feedback loop more efficient, and keeps everyone honest about the progression of notes and change requests!

The EDL support in Shotgun 7.0 is also super exciting. Being able to watch your edits, or do dailies without having to free up an editor to make updates is a huge time saver.


Another really common challenge that Shotgun helped us solve is the bottleneck that occurs when clients have last minute animation notes during compositing reviews. They’ll often want animations or models changed late in the game, and now, for us to be able to make those updates across an entire sequence automatically using Toolkit alleviates a lot of unwanted stress and late nights! We’re a relatively small team, many of us with families who don’t want us to be at work until 2AM—and having Shotgun helps us stay organized and allocate resources accordingly to avoid crazy hours.

Anne: As lead animator, I love how easy it is to draw on top of frames and get animation reviews out really fast. The task dependencies are great; tasks automatically move along in the chain as things progress or are approved. The naming conventions are automated, and updated as shots are revised which makes it really easy to find the latest version of any shot, and eliminates human error in naming files.

Lead Animator Anne Jans with co-worker Eric Wada
It’s also really cool to see your notes within Maya while working on a shot, without having to switch between Shotgun in your browser and Maya.

What’s the secret to Sequence’s staying power?
Ian: Probably diversity of mediums, and really caring about our work and putting everything into it. Everyone here really wants to be here, and because we’re small, artists take ownership of their work and are proud of what they produce.

What is your favorite thing about working in Vancouver?
Anne: Biking. We get to go mountain biking after work.
Ian: Biking and skiing and the ocean!

The Sequence Group Founder, Ian Kirby
What led you to visual effects?
Ian: I’ve been wanting to work in visual effects since I was 12. I’ve always loved art and computers, and later on making art on computers and figuring out how to capture reality and the problem solving that goes along with that.

Anne: I started out as a product designer and realized that I wanted my daily job to be about making the coolest things possible on a computer, which led me to animation. You can do anything you want on a computer and that’s really cool!

What is the biggest challenge in running a studio today?

Ian: Maintaining the happy balance between meeting the client’s budget, doing the best possible work and staying competitive in an industry that has very little standardization.


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Shotgun Street Smarts: Our Favorite Features
One of the best parts of working on the Street Team is getting into the nitty and gritty of Shotgun every day. We know all the best tips and tricks to help you simplify your workflow, and add a little fun and flair.

So without further ado, here’s a list of Street’s top 5 favorite features in Shotgun.

1. Embedded web pages

“I like how Shotgun can serve as a bridge for external pages.”
—Kessler, Street Team

Sometimes an external website can come in handy for reference.


You can load content from external websites into pages or tabs. Simply choose the “URL” view type.


Then add the URL you would like to display within Shotgun.


Please note that while you can embed any webpage that supports iframes, we don’t support Shotgun pages inside Shotgun pages.

2. Annotating on a frame


“I used to spend all day in review sessions. [Annotation is] super streamlined and easy for coordinators.”  
—Astrid, APAC Street Teamer

The ability to annotate on a frame lets coordinators view the same media along with supervisors. Frame numbers are automatically added, so you don’t have to open any additional software. And it immediately notifies the artist of the Note with annotation without having to create an email.


The alternative is to take a screenshot of the media then annotate in a software such as Photoshop and manually enter the frame number. Next, you would have to open an email and send the image as an attachment, all while continuing to take notes in a fast-paced environment. What a headache!

In Shotgun, you don’t have to worry about any of that. Plus, it’s fun to draw on stuff.

3. Bulk editing

“Bulk editing is a convenient way of making updates without needing to do an import.”
—Tram, Street Team

The ability to import is good, but sometimes it’s nice to update all the statuses of a Shot’s tasks to “final.” You can do this with bulk editing.


4. Page filters and tabs

“Tabs and filters are great because of how they work together.”
—Matt, Street Team’s fearless leader

“I personally use Tabs to show different Entities on the same Global Page when using widgets on Canvas Pages isn't desirable,” Matt says. “And then I can use Page Filters to show different Projects.”

You can use tabs instead of creating separate Pages to display different information. For example, you can use Tabs for different departments on Task, Asset, and Shots pages.

“There might be Fields that are important for Animation—maybe statuses of Rigging work get pulled through, that aren't important for Lighting,” Matt says. “So you put those on different Tabs and it un-clutters the views.”

You can also use tabs to show different Fields for the same entity.


Filters, on the other hand, can show different slices of data with the same Fields. For example, you can set up filters to show what’s in-progress, what’s ready to start, or what’s overdue, so you can see the data that is most important to you at the time. You can even set up filters to exclude data you know you don’t need to see. Just use “is not” as one of the conditions.

5. Shotgun API

“[The Shotgun API] is super powerful—it allows you to either automate things or make tools that would otherwise be very difficult to achieve in the Web UI.”
—Brandon, Street Team

As a coordinator at a studio, Brandon used the Shotgun API to automate manual, time-intensive tasks. “[Production coordinators] had to, based on a list derived in Shotgun, go on the network and copy movie files from a shot directory to another directory for review,” he says.

So Brandon wrote a Python script that could point to a playlist and copy all the files from one directory to another.

“Things like that even a production person could learn how to do and save themselves a ton of time day to day,” Brandon says.

You could also use the API to deliver reports once per week on which tasks are overdue. “You can whip up a Python script, and deliver content in an entirely different way that’s more convenient to the studio,” Brandon says.

Anyone can use the API, you just need to know some basics about programming. If you’re interested in learning Python, the language the Shotgun API uses, CodeAcademy offers a beginning class.

6. Bonus: Shotgun tricks


Lastly, we have a couple bonus tips and tricks to add some fun to your workflow (and drive your team crazy…).

GIFs in the project overview banner
Not everyone knows this, but you can add some fun animations to your projects with a GIF in the project overview banner.


“Apart from the endless possibilities of hilarious cats walking across the project overview, it provides a visual bang for your projects landing page!” Andrew from the Street team says.

Filmstrip on user images
Another bit of fun. Add a filmstrip on a user image for jokes.

Or, use the filmstrip to show quick alternate photos.

Now that we’ve shared our favorite Shotgun features and tricks, we want to hear about yours! Please share in the comments below.

About Sabrina:
Sabrina joined the Street Team in October 2015—after working in book publishing and instructional design, building online courses about films and games. Now she gets to spend her days helping clients learn everything they need to know about Shotgun, which includes writing how-to articles, developing multimedia and interactive content, and taking advantage of Shotgun’s tools to track it all. She spends her nights geeking out about dinosaurs with her husband on their podcast, I Know Dino. Fun fact: The time between when Stegosaurus lived and when T-rex lived is longer than the time between when T-rex lived and now. 


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Street Team Summit and Siggraph
This year, we timed our Street Team Summit for the week before Siggraph. The big bonus was that we all got to attend Siggraph and meet clients who we generally only work with through tickets and in online meetings.

So, what is the Street Team Summit?
It's an opportunity for all of us on the Street Team who are scattered across the globe to get together once per year and work, plan, and bond in one location. We spent a lot of time doing our regular jobs—just because we are at Summit, doesn't mean support can come to a standstill. The difference is that at Summit, we did it within shouting distance from each other rather than on Slack.

We also initiated some new projects that you will see come to fruition over the next year, from documentation and videos, to improved internal workflows that will make us more responsive to your needs.

Bonding with coworkers from far-flung locales is incredibly valuable as well. We work very closely and share issues and depend on each other. So things like late nights watching Family Guy and Bob's Burgers are important.

And, when not working?
Of course we spent all day Saturday at Disneyland. And by "all day", I mean OPENING to CLOSING! But we didn't stop there. One team member has a spouse's Silver Pass. So… for exercise, four of us would jog to Disneyland arriving at 8AM, go into the park for one ride on HyperSpace Mountain, then jog home for breakfast/work. It was a 5K round trip from where we stayed!

Batting Cages. 'Nuff said.

We also sampled the fantastic variety of food found all over Anaheim. Japanese, Vietnamese, Mexican, and our very own Street Teamer/Persian chef, Tannaz, gave us a taste of Persian food and showed us the steps to make it. Check out her food blog here.

Week Two: Siggraph
Demoing Shotgun 7.0 in the Booth
Reviewing shots in context anywhere in the app—from any clickable thumbnail in Shotgun—to a Playlist, was really exciting to demo. People understand how important reviewing in context is to helping them get shots finaled—and that importing cuts quickly makes updating shots much more efficient. It seemed like everyone from artists to producers wants in on the action.

It was great making connections with potential clients that are evaluating Shotgun but have never contacted support. We were able to answer their questions and let them know that Shotgun support is an intrinsic part of the evaluation process and that leveraging us is the best way to get up and running.

Great quotes from the Shotgun booth at Siggraph:
- "We can annotate directly on frames? Amazing! This will be so useful at our studio." 
- "My key takeaway from Siggraph is that I must learn Shotgun."

Also Overheard:
- We got lots of great feedback about our Street Team support responses.
- Many people have heard of what Shotgun is, and they all say “it is about time I learned it.”
- People at the job fair were talking about Shotgun.
- A potential client mentioned that their current system is not scaling for them and how much more robust Shotgun is - then they returned the next day with a colleague to discuss details.

What the Street Team Saw
VR was everywhere. One of our favorites, Pearl, directed by Patrick Osborne, used Shotgun to help keep track of all the work. There was also an archaeological VR experience which was a fun mashup of Brandon's work at Shotgun and his wife’s profession as an archeologist. Of course, Eli controlling a mechanical puppet via a VR headset and Xbox Kinect, while singing “I am a Frog”, rounded out the list of favorites.

We also noticed Cloud everything. It's nice being a "born in the cloud" software company.

Everyone loves free things at Siggraph. Best schwag? The Shotgun Beer Mug from the Pipeline Hero Awards!

                                                  

And, of course, the Shotgun Party
- Go-karts. They were fast and fun! Electric go-karts are very cool.
- Super-awesome DJs! Our very own Andrew Lawrence (Espio—look him up) and Patrick Boucher kept the tunes going all night.
- VJ-ing awesome cat videos on the screens

                                         

It was lots of fun getting time to chat/connect with clients in a social atmosphere. It’s great getting to interact with many of the people face-to-face after so much correspondence via support tickets and email.

Retrospective
Summit and Siggraph were a great combination and we used our time in a productive way that will benefit you all in the coming months. We really appreciate the time connecting with those of you who made it to Siggraph this year. For those of you who didn't make it, maybe next year? Or just hit us up at http://support.shotgunsoftware.com.


About the author: Matt has been helping the Street Team for over four years—after several years in animation and VFX. He likes music, coffee, and watching his kids turn into adults. Matt is originally from Indiana and lives in the Bay Area.


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