Shotgun Software announced their visual effects production tracking application, after 3,5 years of development, as a private beta.
I had the chance to test shotgun in production on two smaller projects in our studio. We used it to track tasks and versions between three branches. I would like to give you an idea about the capabilities of the application.
First some key features:
Shotgun allows you to track every “entity” of a typical visual effects production (shots, assets, versions etc.). There are a couple of predefined entities but you also have the possibility to create your own and link them to every other item in the system.
The heart of shotgun is the schedule which allows you to manage tasks linked to entities, which can be assigned to people or groups. The powerful filtering functionality allows you and everyone in the studio to look at the data and the schedule in the way you want to work with it.
Shotgun is the most open (out-of-the-box) production tracking application that we tested so far. It is really easy to integrate it into a pipeline. The application provides a python api but you can also access and write data using a xml-rpc interface. The api is well documented and allows access to all fields in the database. In a quick test, our r&d department was able to connect our versioning tools with the database in less than one day.
As I mentioned before, the application is extremely customizable. You can easily create own pages from entities (e.g. shots) and just add every possible connected date field to it (e.g. status summary).
Unfortunately the interface is not really self-explanatory yet. You definitely need some guidance to use the full potential of the application. They published some really nice tutorial videos on their website.
I think the current version is just the starting point. It seems like the developers concentrated on building a reliable and especially adoptable and customizable system as a foundation to build on top of it.
In fact, it is one of the most customizable and flexible web applications I have ever used. It feels much more like a database management system, in which you can create your own application, then like an out of the box package.
The coolest thing about the application is the team behind it. Talking to the people who created it, feels like they really love what they do!
There are a couple of things I would love to see in future releases (mostly for producers and the management):
As we are right now in the development phase for the second generation of our in-house vfx production management tool, I did a little research on the web to see what’s out there. I was researching to get some inspiration, but also to double check if there is really no package that would fulfill our needs or which could be integrated into our existing production pipeline. What I was looking for is a production management tool for the visual effects industry, focusing on project and information management. Originally something that is “more then a shot database”. I would like to share the list of tools that I found and I would be super-happy to get some links or feedback from you! The list is in now way meant to judge over the tool. It is just a list of links, thoughts and ideas.
“Showrunner” is the Ultimate Visual Effects Project Management Tool.”
It is Filemaker based and seems to target especially freelance producers and production managers. It has functionalities to work out budgets and assist with I/O related stuff. It is not possible to manage more the one project with a single installation of Showrunner.
Showrunner was some years ago an inspiration for our current in house tool, which is also based on Filemaker. Their is a free and a Pro-version for 99$ available.
“Shotrunner is an online web application for collaborating on and tracking the production of VFX shots and other production assets. It enables collaboration across a distributed post-production team. It allows independent producers to breakdown and organize shows, communicate, assign and track work, and track assets.”
What I really like is the web based approach and that the developer had a collaborative approach for distributed teams over the internet in mind. The tool seams to be heavily under development. Unfortunately there is no online demo, yet? I think that it is – even though it is in a very early stage of development and has to proof itself in production first – the most interesting approach so far.
“The web-based software Production Kit is an innovative solution designed for a better workflow and an efficient project management, especially when dealing with company wide or distributed content creation. This can be the case, if for example more than two parties are involved in an international co-production.”
Missing Link is focusing on workflows within a production and is based on a quite interesting approval and documentation concept.
Unfortunately their is no price list on the website but I think that costs are higher then 10.000€/year?
“For several years, idagrove|filmeffects has put much effort into the development of a database system, which manages information, quotes and workflows within visual effects projects, increasing transparency and efficiency at every point in time.”
Mathilda has a quite similar approach as showrunner. It is focusing on managing single projects and thereby should be most interesting for freelance supervisors, producers and production managers. Mathilda is clearly the tool with the most advanced budgeting and controlling functionalities in the list. The Producer license of Mathilda costs 1.899€ (3000$)
Most of the listed tool could perfectly fulfill the needs for managing smaller and bigger shows. Except of Missing Link, all the packages seems to mainly target freelance producers as they do not provide any functionality for their integration into an existing production pipeline or to share data with standard ERP systems like SAP.
What I miss in the listed systems:
I think it would be super interesting to start an open source approach/project to develop standards, concepts and the tools to manage projects and information within a company and between different vendors working together on a visual effects project.Read More