Introducing a More Powerful Shotgun for Facilities Around the World

We're excited to announce an improved experience for clients around the world with new, multiregion hosting. Our clients span the globe, and one thing that they all share in common is the need to access and retrieve media fast, from anywhere. The daily volume and size of media is only growing, and we know that in time-critical business like post-production, speed is everything.

This year, we set out to address the challenge of making Shotgun faster for everyone, regardless of location. As a first step towards this goal, we are now offering storage options outside of North America, bringing media closer to home and helping to mitigate possible delays when media is hosted in another region. You can now enjoy the same fast speed and performance with hosted files whether you're based in Europe, Asia, or North America.

Powered by Amazon S3 Transfer Acceleration, new multiregion hosting allows you to choose the S3 region closest to you for storing media. The latest updates also accelerate the transfer of media, page loading when thumbnails are present, and cloud transcoding in supported regions.

We're excited about this update and hope you are too. Have questions? Feel free to reach out to us at support@shotgunsoftware.com


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Watch the Demo: Shotgun & Foundry in LA
We recently had the pleasure of hosting two events with Foundry in LA and San Francisco, to showcase how our tools work together. For those of you that were unable to attend them in person, you can now watch a full recording from the LA event right here!

In this demo, Foundry’s Terry Riyasat and our own Ken LaRue demonstrate how Shotgun integrates with Nuke 10.5, connecting entire studios and enabling artists to stay focused on the creative work. Google’s Todd Prives also shares an update on the latest from Google Cloud Platform.

Shotgun & Foundry in LA on Vimeo


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Meet the Studio: The Molecule
We recently had the chance to visit bi-coastal VFX and motion graphics studio, The Molecule, to chat about everything from pushing boundaries in VR to using Shotgun to collaborate between facilities.

Meet the Team
The team talks about creating eye-deceiving invisible effects for episodic TV, feature film, and VR.



Connecting Studios with Shotgun
With offices in NYC and LA, The Molecule needed a tool to make collaboration easy and effective. In part 2 of this series, they tell us how Shotgun has transformed the way they work. Deep integration with Nuke means artists "rarely even actually go to the Shotgun interface."

 

Check out more client stories: shotgunsoftware.com/client-stories

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Foundry and Shotgun Head to San Francisco & LA

We're joining forces with Foundry for a two-city tour to showcase how our tools work together.

Foundry Creative Specialist Terry Riyasat will join our own Ken LaRue on stage to show how Shotgun's review and production tracking tools integrate with Nuke 10.5, connecting entire studios and enabling artists to stay focused on the creative work. 

We'll also be joined by Google's Todd Prives who will update us on the latest from Google Cloud Platform. 

Cold beverages and food will be provided. This is a free event, but capacity is limited so be sure to REGISTER HERE.

San Francisco
When: Wednesday, March 29th, 6-9pm
Where: Autodesk Gallery, One Market Street, Floor Two, San Francisco, CA 

Los Angeles
When: Thursday, March 30th, 6-9pm
Where: Google LA, 275 Sunset Ave (event entrance), Venice, CA

We hope to see you there! 


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Photoshop integration, updated
Hi all!
We’re happy to announce that we’ve rewritten our Photoshop integration from the ground up to be compatible with the latest versions of Photoshop (from CC 2015.5 to CC 2017). The updated integration brings the full power of Shotgun to Photoshop, from automating where artists save their PSDs to making it simple to write custom publish hooks, using Python with full access to the Photoshop API. Now you can easily include Photoshop in your pipeline and give more artists tools to work faster.

This release also provides a foundation for integrations with other Adobe Creative Cloud products. If you are interested in collaborating with us on tools for another CC product, such as Premiere or After Effects, let us know at support@shotgunsoftware.com.

You can follow the instructions here to get started with our integrations. If you are already using our old Photoshop integration, here are instructions on how to upgrade.

We’re excited about this release and hope that you enjoy it too.
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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