Many visual effects facilities across the world use Shotgun to track and manage visual effects creation for feature films and television series. However, Shotgun can also help to streamline the client-side process, with a strong focus on tracking and reviewing work distributed amongst numerous vendors.
This article covers some best practices on how client-side productions can use Shotgun at every stage of a production, and ensure that information is clear, easy to find, and up-to-date at all times.
During pre-production, one of the key priorities is gathering media from both the art department and from previsualisation (“Previs”) teams. One of the easiest ways to get started is to go to Shotgun’s Media app.
Just click “Media” in the navigation bar at the top and you’ll be taken there.
Once there, you can start getting artwork and previs media into your project simply by dragging it onto the page. This creates a “Version” for each file uploaded.
Tip: Once it’s in Shotgun, it can be viewed by everyone who has access to the project.
If you have a lot of media, you might find it useful to start organizing uploaded files into “Playlists”. Playlists let you group Versions together, and each Version can be added to multiple Playlists.
We recommend registering vendors as individual Groups (the Groups page can be found in the top-right menu drop-down within the “Admin” section). From there, you can click +Group to add a new vendor. If you later need to give vendors access to your Shotgun site, you can add them as individual users and add them to the appropriate group.
At this point in the production, story elements such as Sequences should start to take form, and can begin to be broken down in Shotgun. To get started, click “Sequences” from the project navigation bar at the top.
This will take you to a list of all the Sequences in your project, and from there you can create new sequences by clicking the + Sequence button.
Click on the Sequence name to view more details about a specific Sequence.
Similarly, you can also start to create Assets and Shots in the project, by clicking the respective button in the project navigation bar and + Asset or + Shot buttons on the page. With each of those, you’ll have the ability to link them to Sequences you’ve previously created.
If you need to email or print Shot Breakdown PDFs, select the Shots, right-click, and choose “Shot Breakdown”.
Tip: If you have a lot of items to create, you may find it quicker to import the information from a spreadsheet instead.
Note: Although it’s common practice in productions to break down individual Scenes, doing so isn’t necessary in Shotgun, as Sequences provide adequate grouping and will be less likely to change during a shoot.
Track previs work by adding Tasks to each Sequence as required, giving them an appropriate name, description and adding vendors to the “Assigned To” field. Be sure to create a “Previs” pipeline step for this purpose.
- Media app: Browse, manage, and review media.
- Working with entities: Create, track, and import things.
- Working with Tasks: Track with Tasks and Pipeline Steps.
Track live action plates and elements
To track live action plates and elements for Shots, simply add Tasks to the Shots, giving them an appropriate name and description. Be sure to create an “Element” pipeline step for these tasks.
Tip: Use the “Principal Photography” tab of the Shots page to quickly add Element Tasks by right-clicking on the Shot within the Element section, and choosing “Add Task to Selected”.
At the end of the shoot day, verify that all the plates and elements were captured and update details, such as the status of the element.
Track LIDAR and cyber scans
To track LIDAR and cyber scans for Assets, simply add Tasks to the Assets, giving them an appropriate name and description. Be sure to create and use “Lidar Scan” or “Cyberscan” pipeline steps as required.
At the end of the shoot day, verify that all the scans were completed and update details such as the status of the scan.
Note: Adding the individual scan files to Shotgun is not recommended, although you might want to keep a note of where they are saved.
Prepare Shots for turnover
To begin the turnover process, the Shots to be included need to exist in Shotgun. Create any that haven’t been created previously, by clicking “Shots” from the project navigation bar at the top, and then clicking the + Shot button.
If you’ve been tracking Shots in Shotgun since pre-production, you may need to update the “Shot Code” to be based on the editorial shot names. Create and use additional “Bid ID” and “Previs Code” fields for example, to keep a record of previous shot names as required. Other important fields to update for each Shot might include “Description”, “VFX Work”, “Sequence”, “Turnovers”, and “Reel”. In particular we recommend you create a new custom entity called “Turnover” and associate the Shots to be included with them.
Next you can assign vendors to work on the Shots by creating a “VFX Vendors” field (an entity or multi-entity field based on Groups), and also “VFX Shot Status” field (a list or status list type field) as appropriate.
Prepare vendor assignments (Split Shots)
If you will need to track multiple vendors per shot (typically when working with “split shots”), you should assign vendors to work on the Shots by adding Tasks. To do this, create a new Task on the Shot, adding the vendor to the “Assigned To” field and making sure to create a pipeline step for tracking, along with a “VFX Shot Status” field to allow tracking per vendor.
In general, you should add one Task per vendor. This will allow you to get the correct Shot count that accounts for split shots.
Tracking scans for turnover
The simplest approach to tracking scans (or “plates”) in Shotgun is to export them out of the editing system as a spreadsheet, edit the formatting as required, and then use the Shotgun Importer to import them (as Versions of Shots). Create Playlists for these Versions to organize and represent the different batches (or “Pull Requests”) as needed.
Tip: Make sure to set the Version’s “Type” field and the Playlist’s “Type” field accordingly” so the information is easy to find or filter later on.
Tracking delivered files
The most convenient way to track files that need to be sent (such as concept art, set data, turnover documents, and so on), is to enable the Deliveries entity and create Deliveries. You can provide a list of files included, as well as reference specific Shots and Versions that are included.
Managing editorial information
To keep Shotgun up-to-date with editorial changes, you can use the Import Cut app to track changes to cut information across Shots between different cuts. Import any pertinent source clip data from your editing system by enabling the Source Clip entity and using the Shotgun Importer.
Note: We don’t recommend trying to store entire editorial “Codebooks” in Shotgun unless you have a pressing need, as doing so can result in a lot of information cluttering the database with very little practical benefit. Where possible, aim to import just the information you’ll need later.
Track vendor submissions by importing spreadsheets provided by vendors (“submission sheets”) as Versions, and uploading thumbnails and playback media of everything received. It can help to create Playlists per submission to allow for convenient review.
Tip: Be sure to maintain the “Path to Frames” and “Path to Movie” fields on the Versions to keep a record of where the original files are stored. This will also allow RV to find them easily.
For quick, convenient reviewing of submissions and other media, click “Review” in the project navigation bar at the top. From here you can see a list of any Playlists you’ve created.
Tip: Create Playlists to organize Versions for a review session with a supervisor or director. You can even change the order of items to be shown, and add the same Version to multiple Playlists.
Tip: If you have an iPhone, be sure to download the Shotgun Review app from the App Store.
You can playback media proxies directly in Shotgun, but if you prefer to play back the original full-resolution media, you can use RV. You can install RV from the Apps menu at the top.
Either open RV and connect to your Shotgun site and begin browsing for Playlists and Versions, or select some Versions in Shotgun, right-click, and choose “Play in RV”. In RV you can (where available) switch between different formats of Versions, such as Quicktimes or EXR image sequences.
To record feedback for items in a Playlist, right-click the Playlist and choose “Launch Review Notes App”. The Review Notes app lets you easily add notes to each Version in the Playlist as well as provides quick access to information about each Version such as related Versions, Tasks and Notes. When you’re ready, you can publish all the notes, optionally sending feedback directly to the vendors by email.
As the production moves towards completion, it’s necessary to keep track of what’s been done and what’s left to do across potentially thousands of Shots. To get an overview of the status of the production, create Query Fields and Canvas Pages, which can show breakdowns of Shots across reels, Sequences, and vendors.