How to review in a collaborative environment

The Shotgun ecosystem provides several methods for reviewing media. While RV has many uses in a production environment, this tutorial focuses on reviewing media in a collaborative environment—such as a screening room or meeting room.

Review begins with content, and RV requires local content, but RV also supports streaming from the web. This tutorial assumes you have local media for our demo project “Hyperspace Madness”; but you can follow along using your own Projects and Versions.

Note: To follow along with sample media, you can download sample “Hyperspace Madness” movies, image sequences here.

Setting up local media

RV is a high-performance frame sequence and movie playback application. Thus, RV requires movies and frames on disk to play. RV can also playback media that is hosted on your Shotgun site (uploaded movies) when movies and frames are missing on disk. RV’s Shotgun integration relies upon two fields to know where your local content exists: sg_path_to_movie for Quicktime movies and sg_path_to_frames for frame sequences.

Preparing content to review

For our project “Hyperspace Madness” we are fostering a collaborative review environment and need to be conscious of our time. Preparing our content ahead of time can be a great benefit in keeping review sessions productive and minimize wasted time. In Shotgun we use Playlists to manage our “Hyperspace Madness” lists of media (Versions) that can be reviewed together. These playlists contain Versions, an order, fields that describe the Playlist, and belong to our project “Hyperspace Madness”.

Info: For more information about how to create media in Shotgun, see “Uploading Media” in the Media App and Playlists guide.

Let’s begin by navigating to the Playlists view on the “Hyperspace Madness” project. 

For this exercise, we will create our own Playlist from scratch. Click “+ Playlist” and fill in the following information:

  • Playlist Name: Review Tutorial Playlist
  • Description: Playlist for the Review In Context Tutorial

Our new Playlist will appear in the Media App Playlist view under “Recent” and “All Playlists”.

Note: Since we are in the “Hyperspace Madness” project, our playlist will automatically be linked to “Hyperspace Madness”. If you create a Playlist in the Media App outside of a project, you will be prompted to link the Playlist to a project upon creation.

Now that we have a Playlist, we need to add media (Versions) to our Playlist. There are several ways to link media to a Playlist. While browsing our media, we search for the first Version that we would like to link to our Playlist: HSM_SATL_0030_ANIM. Once we have located that Version, we click on the PLAYLISTS tab, and drag HSM_SATL_0030_ANIM into our Playlist.

Versions can also be added to a Playlist while viewing them. This is handy when we are in our Dailies session, and would like to add the Version we are reviewing to another Playlist, for example like a Director review. To add our second Version to our playlist, we navigate to the Media App > BROWSE tab. We type HSM_SATL_0020 into the search field next to the filter box and press enter. Then we select HSM_SATL_0020 and click the play icon. Once we are playing back the Version in the web player, we locate the “Playlists” field within the detail pane, and start typing our Playlist into that field: “Review Tutorial Playlist”. Now, our second Version has been linked successfully.

 

Let’s review

With our Playlist created, we are ready to begin our review. We navigate to the Playlist by opening the Media App > PLAYLISTS tab that we navigated to earlier. We select our Review Tutorial Playlist, click the Playlist Actions dropdown (upper right), then select “Play in RV”. If everything is configured correctly, we will see RV load with our two Versions in the timeline.

Note: You may be prompted to enter your Shotgun login credentials upon launching RV if it is your first time logging into RV in a while. Once you’ve entered your credentials, you will be led to the Playlist that you have launched to.

 

Troubleshooting tip: RV should launch with the Playlist; if it does not, see this document on how to set up the protocol handler for your system.

How to use RV to review

Now that we have our Versions loaded in RV, let’s explore some of the common requests in RV.

Timeline management

First, we toggle the Heads-Up Timeline by pressing the “t” hotkey.

Timeline

Now that we can see our timeline, we use the spacebar to begin playback on HSM_SATL_0020 in our project “Hyperspace Madness”. The spacebar will toggle between playing and stopping [pausing]; let’s press the spacebar to begin playback. At this point, RV will play through all the Versions in our timeline. When it reaches the end of one Version it will play the next, then continue to cycle the entire timeline.

 

While it’s great to review the entire timeline, it is also useful to isolate the playback to repeat a single Version or section of a Version in our review. This comes in handy when we are reviewing a specific Shot or series of Shots with our Supervisor in Dailies. We easily isolate the timeline playback region to the current Version by using the fn+up↑/down↓ arrow keys (page-up/page-down). When we press fn+↑ up arrow, the current Version repeats without showing the other Version in our timeline. If we continue to press fn+↑ up arrow, we will progress through each Version in the timeline. Likewise, when pressing fn+down arrow ↓, you will go to each previous version in the timeline.

Now that we have discovered how to isolate a Version, press the backslash key [\] to reset the playback region to the entire timeline.

 

Without setting a playback region, we can also advance to the beginning of a specific Version. This is particularly useful when we have a long Playlist. Select the second icon in the bottom tray; this will advance the timeline to the second clip without modifying the playback region. Likewise, we can use the fn+left←/right→ arrows (home/end button) to bring us to the start/end frames of a clip.

 

Tip: While scrubbing on an isolated Version, you can prevent accidentally scrubbing to a different Version by enabling “Configure > Scrub Stops at In/Out” from the right-click menu of the timeline.
Scrub stops in out

Now that we’ve been able to isolate Versions in our review session, advancing from one to the next, our Supervisor asks us to focus on a specific cut and isolate that region for playback. We can do this by setting up markers. To set a marker, we type the “m” hotkey for the in-point, and another “m” for the end-point. Then, use the fn+up ↑ (page-up) to playback that isolated portion of the two versions cut together. We set up as many markers as we’d like in a session, and then clear them by navigating to the Edit menu > Clear All Marks, and then using the backslash key [\] to reset our regions.

 

Version comparisons

Shotgun and RV provide solutions for industries that rely on the collaborative iterative review. One of the key aspects of iterative review is to be able to compare current work to previous work. Comparing one Version to a related Version in RV is easy. In Shotgun Review, the right-hand panel contains two tabs: Notes and Versions. We click on the Versions tab to display related Versions. This panel will update based on the Version currently playing. While viewing HSM_SATL_0020_ANIM, we select the HSM_SATL_0020_TD Version, right-click and select the “Compare with Current” menu item. By default, this will place both Versions in a grid for easy comparison.

When you are done comparing Versions, select the left ‘back’ button at the top-left portion of the screen. This will return you to your Playlist timeline.

 

In addition to the grid view for comparisons, placing them on top of each other is also an option. This is great when we are comparing to previous animations, or when closely examining lighting changes in dailies. From the SG Review menu, we navigate to preferences and change the “Default Compare Mode” to “Stack with Wipes”. Repeat the steps to compare a Version; this time, we won’t see two Versions next to each other. We move our mouse to the edge of the image, when we near a border the wipe tool handle will appear. We drag the edge inward to start revealing the bottom image.

Again, when we are done comparing our Versions, click the back button in the top-left to return to the Playlist timeline.

 

View adjustments

RV has a powerful suite of image tools that can be useful for analyzing and debugging technical and artistic flaws in imagery we we need to take advantage of on our project. We can use these tools as soon as we’ve finalized a shot and examine the shot for “tech fix”.

While in “tech fix” dailies, our Supervisor has us brighten the image to see if there is any artifacting. We do this by adjusting the exposure on the current version with the e key, then drag from left to right on the viewer. We can also set specific values to change the exposure; press e then type 2 and press enter.

 

Now we need to increase the contrast of HSM_SATL_0020_TD. Pressing the k key and dragging left to right increases the contrast.

 

Reset all of these changes with shift+insert or by using the Color > Reset All Color option.

Reset all color

Finally, we look at each color channel individually. The r, g, and b keys will switch our view to isolate the Red, Green or Blue channel respectively. We try each one, then when we want to reset our view to full-color, we press the c key.

 

Notes

It is important to make sure that our Artists and Supervisors know what needs to change after the review occurs. For smaller reviews and when our Supervisor reviews at an Artist’s desk, we use the Notes panel in RV. On the right-hand panel where the related Versions were, click on the Notes tab at the top.

Notes panel

The Notes panel will, like the Versions panel, keep updated with the current Shot. It shows prior notes below, and at the top, we write new notes. We use the @ symbol so we can CC our Artist, Johnny, to alert him to our feedback. Once we submit our Note, by clicking the checkmark at the bottom-right, they will be notified via the Shotgun Inbox, and by email depending on user notification preferences).

Tip: Once you type a few characters of a user’s name after the @ symbol, you will be presented with a list of valid users to select from.

 

For larger reviews, it is recommended that a person not driving the review uses the Review Notes app.

Useful settings and where to find them

RV, Shotgun Review, and some of the tools within RV all have preferences that can change the behavior of RV. Similar to how we set our wipe mode, the SG Review > Preferences menu contains useful preferences such as default media type, Auto-Play, and some display settings.

SG preference menu

RV itself has a very core set of preferences under the RV > Preferences panel. Caching settings, audio and video preferences, and plugins can all be managed here. Finally, some tools have their own preferences. The timeline (the time view above the tray) is one tool that provides useful settings.

RV prefs

Further reading

If you wish to become more proficient at running reviews using RV, it is highly recommended that you become familiar with a larger set of tools within RV. This tutorial is merely an introduction. Here are some other guides worth checking out and bookmarking:

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