Managing external development in Shotgun

This tutorial will take you through an example workflow which will show you how to track, manage, review, and approve work produced by external vendors. Concepts will be kept largely high level, and finer details such as how work files should be transferred between studios will be left for you to decide. These are general guidelines and are meant to be used as a framework from which to build your own process that works best for your studio.

Getting started

This tutorial assumes you have some working knowledge of Shotgun, including how to navigate around the interface and how to make changes to things such as permission groups.

add projectCreate your Project

If you haven't already, create the Project in Shotgun you will use to track all the work for your game, animated feature, VFX show, etc. If work is being produced both internally and externally, managing it all together in a single Project has advantages over segmenting the work into multiple Projects.

  • Supervisors responsible for reviewing internally and externally produced media can be done all in one place.
  • If using Toolkit to manage your files, it simplifies the file system organization.
  • Producers can more easily create reports on the overall Project status.

version iconPopulate the Project

Add everything to your Project that will need to be produced: Assets, Shots, Levels, etc. It's a good idea to determine what Tasks will be required for these deliverables and to create Task Templates for them ahead of time. If this isn't possible right away, you can always go back and apply templates afterwards.

Once the entities and their Tasks are created, upload reference movies, images, or PDFs in the form of Versions. The ideal place to do this would be via the Task detail pages so the Versions are automatically linked to the Task and its parent (e.g., Asset or Level). This will tie the reference to the entity and Task, and will be playable in Screening Room by the vendor once the Versions have transcoded. If the reference is tied directly to the Tasks the artists will be assigned, then they won't have to go hunting through Shotgun for it later.

add peopleCreate accounts

Depending on the relationship with your vendor, you may create a single account for that vendor, a few accounts for key personnel, or individual accounts for every artist at the studio. When trying to determine the "right" way to manage the vendor and their work, the answer is always "whatever makes communication the easiest." You may want to have a direct dialogue with the artists doing the work, or maybe you get better results when communicating through their supervisor. Each vendor you work with will be different, so work with them to find the system that works best for you. Easy and effective communication is key.

permission iconPermission Groups

We recommend that you create unique permission group(s) for the vendors you have logging into your Shotgun site. This will allow you to carefully control the scope of visibility and actions you want them to perform within Shotgun. You should turn off anything you do not want your vendors to see, create, edit, or delete. Once your permission group is made, be sure to create an account and give it a test drive. Use it to further refine the permissions to ensure they can see and do everything you require.

Shotgun comes with a Vendor permission group, which is a good starting point. The Vendor group has a few conditional permissions:

  • Vendors can only see Tasks that they (or a group that they are in) are assigned,
  • Vendors can only see Shots and Assets if they (or a group that they are in) are assigned to a Task on that Shot or Asset,
  • Vendors can only see Notes if they (or a group that they are in) are in the To or CC field, or if they created the Note, and
  • Vendors can only see Versions that they create.
Note: Only the most common entities, such as Shots, Assets, Tasks, and Versions, have conditional permissions. All other entities, such as Scenes, Sequences, and Levels, are covered by the regular permissions framework. This means that Vendors either do or do not have permission to see, edit, or delete those entities.

Within the Vendor group, or any group, you can configure advanced permissions to control access to very specific features, such as hiding the global nav, hiding the ‘Other’ menu in the Project Nav bar so that Vendors will only see the entities in the Project Nav bar, and hiding saved filters in the filter panel.

Depending on your level of support, our engineering team can also create customized conditional permissions to add an extra layer of security.

Set a Home page

From the People page, you can set a user’s Home page on their behalf, by using the Home page field. You can create a specific Vendor Home page, and set the Home page for the Vendor, so that it would be the first page they see when they log into Shotgun.

Pro tip: Where possible, have one Home page for all Vendors, as it will cut down on the work needed to keep your pages up-to-date.

Design a page

You can also control what different users can see on a page. Design pages to have multiple tabs, and set the permissions on those tabs so only certain groups can see. For example, you can create one tab for artists to see, one for managers to see, and one for vendors to see.

Next, you can create the “current user” filter to curate pages and show Tasks only assigned to the logged in user. This works well when combined with the advanced Hide Saved filters permission.

current person filter

Test

As a Shotgun Admin, you can log in as another user in Shotgun. Assume another user’s identity to test what they can and cannot see in Shotgun, based on the permissions you’ve set.

task iconMake assignments

Once all your reference is added and permissions are set, start assigning Tasks to the Artists. The assignments will appear in their My Tasks, and the reference (and any other instructions you gave) will be ready and waiting for them.

follow iconFollow what's important

To stay up-to-date on all the work your vendors are doing, you'll want to follow things in Shotgun. You can either follow the Person, or the thing being built (or both if you really want to cover your bases). Here are some of the differences:

  • Following a person will generate an update in your Inbox whenever that person creates a Version, a Task, or a Published File (using Toolkit or another similar asset management system).
  • Following an Asset, Level, Shot, etc. will generate an update in your Inbox whenever a Note, Task, Version, or Published File is created for the entity. You can also designate specific fields you'd like to watch (such as status).
Pro tip: We recommend following the things being built (such as Assets, Levels, or Shots). Then your vendor can communicate directly by creating Notes in their My Tasks assignments which will then show up in your Inbox. You will also receive notifications about media and published files submitted for review.

Review and approval workflow

For the artists and supervisors who will be submitting, reviewing, and ultimately approving the work being done, here is the basic process:

Submit

Artists submit Versions for review (videos or still images) via the menu on their My Tasks page.

new version

Review

  • Supervisors automatically receive updates in their Shotgun Inbox, since they are already following either the Asset or Person.
  • Supervisors can play each Version in Screening Room or RV that comes into the Inbox, annotate it and provide feedback, and mark the status in accordance with your studio’s workflow.
  • Artists receive the feedback in their Inbox and My Tasks activity stream.

Repeat

  • This process continues until the work is approved.
  • Version, Task, and Asset statuses are set where appropriate.

beer iconThat's a wrap!

Submit work files

Once an assignment has been completed, artists will need to submit their work files. As an Admin, you can also set up Deliveries to track files and data sent out to vendors or clients.

Account maintenance

If there are new assignments, or a new project to assign to an artist, do that now and have them continue their work. Be sure to remove them from their completed projects so they no longer see the material related to it. Otherwise, change the status of the user to Disabled so they can no longer log in and access your Shotgun site. Leaving them Disabled is often better than deleting the record, as their information will be ready to go should they work for you in the future.

Follow

4 Comments

  • 0
    Avatar
    Sean Murphy

    What if I am entering the tasks for the external developer, but am not the one who will be reviewing the submissions from that vendor - is there a way to have someone else follow a task or person?

  • 0
    Avatar
    Brandon Foster

    Hi Sean,

    Good question! Currently we don't have a way to force one user to Follow something, however it is possible to assume the identity of that user, then Follow the necessary things on their behalf. You can read more about how to do that here.

  • 0
    Avatar
    Sean Murphy

    Thanks! Is there any other workflow whereby a supervisor/reviewer, something along those lines, could be assigned to a task while not being the one assigned to do that task (if that makes sense), so that they would receive notification that they need to provide feedback when something comes in?

  • 0
    Avatar
    Brandon Foster

    It could be possible to create a custom "Reviewer" field which could then link to the person responsible for review of that Task. This by itself does not provide the functionality you've described. You'd also need to write some automation to key off that field being populated which makes use of our Event Daemon. Using the daemon, a script can recognize when that field is modified then run a Follow command in the API to have that person Follow the Task.

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