An introduction to Shotgun

Shotgun is the creative industry’s trusted platform for secure, scalable, efficient production management and review. Learn how to set up your first Shotgun project.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Shotgun is used to track Projects across a wide range of industries and was initially used in:

  • Animation
  • Film
  • TV
  • Games

Outside of our core disciplines, Shotgun is also being used to track:

  • Website development
  • Motion capture
  • Car collections
  • Book writing
  • Onset film production

Here at Shotgun we use it internally, to track, schedule, and manage our own software development.

The best way to learn Shotgun is to get some hands-on experience by signing up for a 30-day trial.

Note: You'll get unlimited users and usage during the 30 trial, so feel free to customize your trial site to your needs!

Everything you need to get up and running with Shotgun can be found in the navigation bars. There are two: Global navigation and Project navigation.

Global navigation

The Global navigation bar sits at the top of Shotgun and gives you access to things such as your Home page, Projects, Apps, and Admin tools. Below is an interactive quick run through of the things you’ll find here:

global navigation

Project navigation

Once you navigate to a Project, you will see another menu: the Project navigation bar. The Project nav bar helps you navigate through each of your Projects, and can be customized per Project to help guide people to the things you're tracking. It’s made up of three main components: The Overview Page, the entities you’re tracking, and pages within your Project.

project navigation

Chapter 2: Create a Project

Projects can be mean different things depending on what you’ll be tracking. They can be an animated film, a visual effects job, a game, a season of a show, a television series, or a commercial. In this tutorial, we are going to create an animated short film called “Hyperspace Madness.”

Create a new Project

From the Welcome Screen, it's easy to make a new Project:

    1. Select the Create a Project icon.
      create Project
    2. Enter in your Project name and choose the Feature Animation template to use as the default for your new Project.
      choose template
    3. Select "Create Project."

As an Admin, you can learn more about Project Templates in the Admin Guide.

Customizing your Project Overview

The Project Overview page gives you fast access to all the information you need. You can view your team’s collaboration in “Hyperspace Madness” via the Activity Stream. You can also send notes directly from here to all the people on your Project.

Project overview menu

First, personalize your Project Overview. Hover over the Thumbnail to upload a Thumbnail for your Project. Then, you can select a Billboard image (For best results, we suggest a Billboard image that is 1440 pixels wide and 300 pixels tall).

Project overview

Managing your Projects

Project menu

Shotgun is a platform that fosters many Projects and lets users manage many Projects. As mentioned earlier, your Projects can be many different types (animated films, a visual effects job, a game, a season of a show, television series, commercials, and more!). If you click on Projects in the Global Nav bar, you’ll display a list of your current Projects. The magnifying glass at the top provides filters for the Projects you would like to browse.

All projects

Hover over each Project for easy access to things you're tracking, like Shots and Assets.

Shots menu

The Gear icon at the bottom left allows you to create a New Project... or go to a Project Page from Manage Projects...

Manage projects

Project page

From the Project page you can view, edit, and create fields to track data associated with your Project—customizing each Project to your needs.

Manage project fields

Project Templates

As a best practice, it’s best to keep layouts between similar Projects consistent. When creating a new Project, you can choose an existing Project as a template. If you use a Project as a template, all of the page layouts will be used from that Project. For our animated Project “Hyperspace Madness”, I chose to use the Feature Animation template.

Create new project

If you have a Project layout that you’d like to apply to another Project, you can push that Project's configuration to another Project as an Admin.

You can learn more about Project templates in the Admin Guide.

Once you build up your Shotgun site and Projects evolve from start to finish, or some become obsolete, you have the option to archive them. Read more about archiving Projects.

Chapter 3: Tasks and Pipeline Steps

Pipeline Steps and Task Creation

Before you dive in and create Tasks, you should first define a Task Pipeline.

A Task Pipeline is a set of Steps that define a workflow for making something (eg: Assets, Shots, etc.). Because the workflows for building different types of things will naturally have different steps, you’ll want to define Pipelines per the different things that you are tracking. For example, you can have a set of Pipeline Steps for Assets, and a different set of Pipeline Steps for Shots. You can create a set of Pipeline Steps that is very high-level, or very detailed, but the most common approach is to define the pipeline by the departments involved. In other words, Pipeline Steps are containers for Tasks—once all Tasks within a Pipeline Step are complete, the Pipeline Step is considered complete.

“Hyperspace Madness” has a Shot Pipeline consisting of 5 steps (Layout, Animation, FX, Lighting and Comp).

Shot pipeline

Each Shot has one or more Tasks linked to it. Each Task, in turn, is assigned to one of the five Steps. Note that each of the Shot Pipeline Steps shown above is in its default collapsed state (showing only the Task status). When these columns are expanded, they show the detailed Task information (like who’s assigned to the Task and the due date)—all configurable.

Tasks

Editing a Task within a Pipeline Step

You can edit a Task within a Pipeline Step the way you would edit any other Task field: double-click into the field, and then change its value.

Editing Task

Creating Tasks

When you create a Task and assign it to someone, you're not only creating a schedule, but you are also sending that Task to the assignee and making it possible for your team to collaborate. Tasks will appear in their My Tasks page automatically, with links to all the information needed.

Typically, you'll want to create a Task for each step in your process where you need to track something or see status reports. If someone is going to ask you, "what's the status on that?" you'll probably want to make that a Task.

There are four main ways to create Tasks.

1. Creating Tasks one at a time.

Navigate to the detail page of a Shot in your Project, and select the Tasks Tab [tasks tab] Next select the + button to create a new Task.

Create task

Fill in the necessary fields (required fields are bold) and choose create Task. We recommend at least filling in the Task Name and Pipeline Step. Note that the "Link" field is automatically populated with the Shot (or Asset or any other item you are tracking that has Tasks).

Note: the "Link" field is only automatically populated when creating a Task from its parent’s detail page.

New Task

2. Importing your tasks.

We touch on the importer in Chapter 4 when looking at the people in our Project. You can import Tasks in bulk the same way by selecting Import Tasks under the More Button button on a Schedule page.

Import tasks

3. Task Templates

Task Templates are a great way to quickly populate your schedule and keep things consistent in your Project, and throughout Projects. Admins can set up Task Templates for things that tend to follow the same basic steps each time they are created. For instance, a basic digital asset creation process would typically involve Modeling, Rigging and Surfacing. You could set up a template called "Basic Asset Template" that would include those three Tasks.

Basic template

More information on how to configure Task Templates can be found in the Admin Guide .

4. Creating Tasks within a Pipeline step.

You may find yourself looking at a Shots page referencing your Step columns, and you want to create a Layout Task on a particular Shot. You can easily do this by using the right-click context menu item “Add Task to Selected.”

Create task in pipeline

Pro Tip: You can add a Task to multiple records by selecting multiple records prior to clicking on the “Add Task to Selected” menu item. Doing this creates a unique Task per selected record.

Pipeline Steps and page layouts

Each Pipeline has a default way of rendering its Pipeline Steps: one for Assets, one for Elements, one for Shots, etc. This ensures that every time you add a Shot Step to a page layout, its appearance conforms to something that you expect to see, regardless of the project. This helps keep views consistent with what you are looking at.

Examples of display settings that are stored in the Step column layout default include:

  • Which Task columns to display
  • Task column formatting options (such as width, position, column header color, and text wrap, etc.)
  • Task column summarization options
  • Default Step display mode

Display setting

Pro Tip: Once a Step is added to a page layout, you can modify its layout and save your page without altering the default Step layout.

Adding and removing Step columns

On “Hyperspace Madness,” I’d like to add the Layout Pipeline Step to my Shots page, and Remove the Compositing Pipeline Step. I click on the Pipeline button, and then choose Layout and Compositing. When you add a Step, the Step column (in its default layout) will appear in the far right position of the grid.

Layout

Showing all Step Columns in a layout

Likewise, to show all Step columns, click on the Pipeline button, then choose “Show All.” Doing this adds all Steps for the given Pipeline to the page layout. If any Steps are already visible, all remaining Steps—except ALL TASKS—will be inserted to the right of the visible Steps, and they'll appear in their relative Step order.

All Tasks

Pipeline Step display modes

Displaying information within your Pipeline Steps will enhance your reporting. For instance, you may want a summary of how many Tasks are final within a Pipeline Step visible. On “Hyperspace Madness this is the case—we’d like to see a percentage to final summary of Tasks within the Layout Pipeline Step. To change the display mode, right-click on a Step column’s header to bring up the context menu, then choose one of the three available display modes: Show Details Only, Show Summaries Only, or Show Details and Summaries.

Summary

  • Show Details Only: Allows you to view and edit each Task within a Step for each thing the Task is linked to (such as a Shot, Asset, etc). This is the default view where we see each Task within a Step.
  • Show Summaries Only: Allows you to view summary values for all the Tasks for each thing the Task is linked to (such as a Shot, Asset, etc). Each Task column within the Step can be summarized in a number of ways, but the default summarization option comes from the field's summarization option, which you can set in the Configure Field dialog. In “Hyperspace Madness,” we use this display option when we only want to see a percentage to final summary without any Tasks displayed in the rollup.
  • Show Details and Summaries: Allows you to view both details and summaries. This is also more commonly used in “Hyperspace Madness,” so that we can see a report of the Tasks rolled up, along with the summaries displayed for the percentage to final.

Final percentage
Showing Details and Summaries on “Hyperspace Madness”

More details on how to update Pipeline Step Layouts can be found in the User Guide.

The All Tasks view

In many cases you’ll want to access all the Tasks at once instead of going through all the Steps. For example, you may want to see:

  • a sum of all durations on all Tasks for an Asset,
  • the percentage complete of all Tasks,
  • or a filter for all Assets that have any Task assigned to a specific person.

In “Hyperspace Madness”, I want to continue with my Pipeline Step percentage summaries, but this time showing my team all tasks on an asset, instead of just Tasks within a particular Pipeline Step. After adding the “All Tasks” step, I can achieve this by adding “Showing Details and Summaries” on the Status field.

23_show_details_summaries.jpg

Also within All Tasks, I want to be able to filter down results. So, after adding the Step called “All Tasks” I can see the Asset is linked to five tasks, all of which are visible and editable from the “All Tasks” Pipeline Step.

All Tasks filter

You can filter on “All Tasks”:

  • Finding all Assets where at least one linked Task has a start date of “Tomorrow”:
    Tomorrow start date
  • Finding all Assets where at least one linked Task is assigned to me:
    Task includes me

Linked Pipeline Steps

Linked Pipeline Step fields allow you to see summaries of Tasks on the things linked to what you're viewing. In “Hyperspace Madness”, while we’re viewing an Asset on an Assets page, we can see the status of all the tasks on all the Asset's linked Shots. This is extremely helpful in status update meetings.

You can do this by adding a Linked Pipeline Step summary field to your Assets page. Add a Column, and select Linked Pipelines > Shots Steps > ALL TASKS > Status.

All tasks status

By default, this will show you the default summary (percentage complete) of all Tasks on all Shots that are linked to the Asset.

Default summary

More details on how to include Pipeline Step summaries on detail pages can be found in the Admin Guide.

Chapter 4: Import Assets and Shots

Now that we have our animated short film “Hyperspace Madness” created, we need a quick way to get data into Shotgun since we need to hit the ground running. You may have an asset breakdown, scene breakdown, or other document that holds information you would like to import to Shotgun. For “Hyperspace Madness”, we have an Asset Breakdown and Scene Breakdown.

Importing Assets

My Asset breakdown is a spreadsheet comprised of asset names, asset types, and asset descriptions.

Asset breakdown

First, navigate to the Project’s Asset landing page and display the fields you would like to import.

Manage columns

Next, export these fields to Excel so that the formatting matches, and copy/paste your Excel data into the new exported Excel sheet. You can delete the “id” and “Project” columns.

Export Excel

Then, copy the data (including the column headers) from your new Excel sheet, and select Import Assets.

Copy data

Import assets

Follow the steps to Import your Assets.

Bulk asset import

Map fields assets

ID fields assets

Preview asset import

… and that’s it! Your assets now exist in Shotgun.

Assets

Importing Shots

You can swiftly import Shots following the same steps as Assets above, just from a Shots page instead. My Shot breakdown is a spreadsheet comprised of Shot names, descriptions, and cut information.

First, navigate to the Project’s Shots landing page and display the fields you would like to import.

Shot fields

Next, export these fields to Excel so that the formatting matches, and copy/paste your Excel data into the new exported Excel sheet. You can delete the “id” and “Project” columns.

Export Excel

Then, copy the data (including the column headers) from your new Excel sheet, and select Import Shots.

Shot data

Import shots

Follow the steps to Import your Shots.

Data shots

Map fields shots

ID fields shots

Preview shots

Note that since you already had your Assets created in Shotgun from the previous import, you can link them directly to Shots via the importer.

Shots

Linking Shots and Assets together

Now that you have the things you would like to track imported into Shotgun, the next step is to connect them together. With these connections, you’ll be able to reference Assets that are in Shots and Shots that have specific Assets. You’ll also be able to see the statuses of Shots that may have Assets still in progress, and drill in on more information. On Assets, there is a field called “Shots”, and likewise, on Shots there is a field called “Assets”. This is a bi-directional field that is used to link the two together.

Link shots and assets

These fields will autocomplete results when the item exists in Shotgun, or you can create a new Shot or Asset easily from there.

New shot

Now that you’ve linked your Assets to Shots and vice versa, you have connected the important things and your Project and are ready to track.

Creating Shots and Assets individually (without the Importer)

Moving forward on your Project, you may need to add more Shots and Assets individually rather than import them. You can do this by clicking on the “+ Shot” and “+ Asset” buttons on their corresponding pages.

Add new asset

Add new shot

Chapter 5: Add People

Adding people to your Shotgun site is the start to a successful collaboration experience. To add people to your site, navigate to the People page via the Global Nav.

People nav

The People page is where you’ll find the details for all of the Users in your studio. From this page, you can add new people to your Shotgun Site and manage existing user accounts. For my Project “Hyperspace Madness,” I need to add my Artists, Supervisors, Managers, and Producers so I can begin the collaboration process.

I’ll fill in a Name, Login, Status, Password, and a Thumbnail for all of the people I add. Let’s start with Astrid, an Animator who will be working on “Hyperspace Madness.”

  1. First, I click to add a New Person.
    Add person
  2. I fill in all the required fields and make sure to specify that Astrid is an Artist in the Permission Group field, then select Create Person.
    Create person
  3. Now that Astrid has been created and can log in to Shotgun, I can upload a thumbnail for her, or wait for her to update her own photo in Account Settings. If I upload one for her, I just click on her Thumbnail field to Upload Thumbnail.
    Upload thumbnail
  4. Astrid can log in to my Shotgun Site and see the “Hyperspace Madness” Project.
  5. I repeat this for all of my Artists, Supervisors, Managers, and Producers, and pretty soon, I have my entire team created in Shotgun.
    People page

From a Project-specific Overview Page and People Page, you can see all the same people information filtered down to just the people assigned to the Project.

People menu

People in Project

Invitation

Upon creation, the new User will receive an invitation to Shotgun. When the User accepts the invitation, Shotgun will then guide the User through creating a password to gain access to the site.

Status

You can easily activate ("active") and deactivate ("disable") user accounts in Shotgun to control monthly expenses.

Status

You can learn more about the People page in the Admin guide.

Chapter 6: Upload Media

When working with a team on a small or large Project, it’s important to be able to upload media quickly so that you give and get the feedback you need to move forward. It’s also important to be able to access this media from the cloud, so reviewing can happen on the fly and in an organized way.

Here are some of the main ways that you can incorporate uploading media into your workflows:

Media App

The easiest way to get media into Shotgun is to drag movies, images and PDFs onto a drop zone in the Media app. Dragging files anywhere over the page highlights the available drop zones with a white, dashed outline. When you release files over a drop zone, we'll instantly create a Version for each file that you dropped and start uploading your media. Once your files have been uploaded, they're queued for transcoding so they can be viewed on the web.

Media app

You can continue working in the Media app while your files are being uploaded and transcoded. A blue banner at the bottom of the screen shows the cumulative progress of all active uploads. Versions being processed are indicated in the right pane with uploading media_status_uploading.gif and transcoding media_status_transcoding.gif animations. Once a Version is ready to for web playback, it will change to a blue play icon media_app_blue_play_icon.png.

Project set up

Upon setting up your Project (Chapter 2), you can initially upload media to reference via the Project Overview Media widget.

Create versions

You can click and drag multiple Versions into the Create Versions dialogue to get things into Shotgun quickly. Movie files and still images will be uploaded and transcoded for web friendly playback.

My Tasks

My Tasks make it easy to upload media so that Artists can stay in one place. From the Selected Task dropdown, select New Version and you’ll be taken to the Create Version dialogue.

New version on task

Version Page or Version Tab on a Detail View

From a Detail Page Versions tab, or on a custom Version page that you’ve created, you can select + Version and upload Media from there. If you are on a Versions tab, your Versions will automatically be linked to the appropriate item.

Version page

Chapter 7: Client Review Site

“Hyperspace Madness” requires a lot of feedback from a Client. The Client Review Site makes it so that we can send Clients media to review and leave feedback on, without giving them full access to the Shotgun Site. They’ll have a restricted view where they can leave notes on media, and the view is designed to be very intuitive. Your Clients can access your work on the desktop or while on the go on their mobile device. Notes made on the Client Review Site go directly back into Shotgun linked to all the important things in your Project.

Share via the Client Review Site

Add any work you’d like to collaborate with your client to a playlist. You can use the Media App’s drag and drop ordering to sort the playlist to your preferred order then click the Share button.

Client playlist

Client Review Site: Preview mode

As soon as you’ve clicked on the Share button, a new window will open to show you the Client Review Site in Preview Mode. The view below the blue Preview bar represents exactly what your client will see so you can confirm that everything looks right before you send it to them.

Client preview

Clients can also use web review features in Shotgun, including: scrubbable timeline and play/pause controls, frame count, annotation and zoom tools, audio mute, full screen toggle, and player settings.

Annotate

Version name and the reason for review

Many times your Version name internally may mean something different to a Client. That is the case on “Hyperspace Madness.” The Version Name area can be adjusted in Settings to display an alternate Client Version Name field if desired. The Reason for Review area provides a place for you to enter notes for your client to help set context for why they're looking at the version.

Note

Pro Tip: You can bulk update the Reason for Review field in the Media App by revealing the Reason for Review suggested field.

Download source files

Clients often want access to the actual media file. The Download Source link will display to the lower right of the player if you allow that option when sharing. This lets your clients download the file you originally uploaded to Shotgun for offline viewing or to drop into their cut.

Download

Prop Tip: The source movie file is stored on the Version-level Uploaded Movie field. The link will not appear if you’ve disabled the ability to download the source file when sharing the playlist.

Project settings

While working on different Projects with different Clients, settings per share may differ. For instance, with my commercial Project, I’d rather not require the Client to enter a password when they receive an invitation to review media via the Client Review Site.

Project Settings are specific to the Project you’re in and carry over to new Projects when the current Project is used as a template. A change in this menu only applies to playlists shared from the current Project. This allows you to fine tune your settings and keep them with you over time. Included in this menu are default Project settings for where you require a password to be entered to access a playlist, when a playlist share expires, control over whether clients can see and create comments, download source media, whether email notifications contain thumbnails, and more. Remember, these are just the defaults; all of these settings can be overridden while sharing a playlist.

Invite people

Organization settings

This is where I can personalize my studio information which will be visible to them.

Studio information

Share with your Client

You can invite Client Users to view your Playlist via the Client Review Site vie the “Invite People” button to the upper right of Preview Mode. You can create new Client Users from here, or enter in a Client User that already exists. You can also write a personalized message that they will receive in the invite email.

Share playlist

After you’ve shared a playlist, your client will receive a Shared Playlist Invitation email. Clients can access your work by clicking on the View Playlist button.

For more details on the Client Review Site, check out the Client Review Site Overview for Shotgun Users.

For an overview of the Client Review Site from a Client perspective, and to send instructions to your Client, be sure to check out the Client Review Site Overview for Clients.

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