Best practices

Shotgun has a myriad of powerful features. Below is a checklist of best practices.

Shotgun tips for beginners

Some general advice.
Simplicity is the key to an efficient workflow.
Keep processes consistent. Use Shotgun to save time.

Shotgun tips for beginners

If you’re new to Shotgun, here’s a quick list of tips to help you get started.

1. Some general advice.

  • Remember that everyone in your studio can use Shotgun.
    Everyone can get value from Shotgun, including Production, Artists, and Management. That means that you may be designing pages for more than one audience or workflow, and for people with different questions to answer. Keeping the central designs simple and letting people “branch off” to specialized pages can help maximize Shotgun’s value for everyone.
  • Build and iterate with Artist input.
    There will be some subtleties to other people’s workflows and requirements. Working with them gives you an opportunity to understand and meet those needs.
  • Keep your passwords secure.
    We recommend using a system such as One Time (https://onetimesecret.com) for sharing passwords.

2. Simplicity is the key to an efficient workflow.

  • Exercise in subtraction, not addition.
    You can do a lot in Shotgun, and it’s tempting to include a lot of information on a page. Try not to do this. You’ll find people will get more value—faster—out of simpler pages.
  • Design two pages maximum for Artists (Home and tabbed detail page).
    Unlike Production, Artists don’t do most of their work in Shotgun, so make it easy for them to see what they need to work. The Home Page will help them focus on just their tasks, and they can jump to Detail Pages for any specific information they require. As an Artist, if you’re not managing a whole schedule, you probably won’t get much value out of seeing all aspects of a project.
  • Leverage Shotgun's built-in navigation tools.
    The Global and Project Navigation bars take you to Project Landing Pages—one for each item in the bars. These provide shared “public spaces” for everyone to use and quick navigation for the things that everyone will want to do regularly. The Pages menu makes it easy for people to build customized navigation to suit their workflows, so that they can access a set of pages they use regularly with just a couple of clicks. That means you don’t need to account for everyone’s workflow when you’re designing the “public spaces.”
  • Where possible, think like a usability designer when designing the “public spaces.” Keep it simple. Refine.
    Keep iterating on page designs. At first you may not have a complete feel for Shotgun’s features and you may want to refine how people interact with your Shotgun site. You may find that your workflow changes over time. Don’t be afraid to go back into design mode and keep your public spaces clean and efficient for everyone.
  • Be as visual as possible. Use more pictures and fewer spreadsheets.
    It’s easy in Shotgun to change between data-intense layouts, such as List View, and more visual layouts, such as Thumbnail View. Consider defaulting to visual layouts so that Shotgun isn’t overwhelming right away. For the data-intense workflows, changing views is only a click away, or you can save your own copy of the pages.
  • Consolidate Pipeline steps.
    Pipeline Steps are used to group together and organize related tasks. For each Pipeline Step, you can define the following:
    • Name: The Pipeline Step name often translates to a department name.
    • Short Code: The Short Code is visible when you bring the collapsed Pipeline Step columns into view. We recommend a consistent 3- to 4-digit short code to represent each Pipeline Step.
    • Order: This defines both the order in which the Pipeline Step appears in the drop-down list and the sort order for the Pipeline Step column, which allows you to sort your tasks by Pipeline Step order.
    • Color: This defines the color of the bar in the Gantt view for scheduling purposes.
    We recommend keeping the list of Pipeline Steps as concise and consolidated as possible. Too many available Pipeline steps can cause confusion, and new Tasks run the risk of being assigned to the wrong step if there are too many steps. Also, an overabundance of Pipeline Step columns on a given page will slow down the load time significantly. Last, because Pipeline Steps are configured sitewide, it’s best to keep these as generic as possible so that they are applicable across projects.
  • Consolidate Tasks.
    For the majority of use cases, we find that keeping the task list simple is extremely effective. We recommend starting with a one-to-one match between Tasks and Pipeline Steps, which means that you have a single Task per Pipeline Step. You can also create and manage site-wide Task Templates, which can help with the automatic creation of these tasks.
  • Consolidate Shot types.
    As with Pipeline steps, having too many types in the Type field on Shots can cause confusion.
  • Set a minimal number of Status options.
    The most efficient productions tend to use a minimal set of status options for their Tasks. Keeping the list of statuses short and concise will help avoid confusion when choosing statuses. Simplifying what statuses mean at each stage of production makes reporting easier, and helps everyone understand what is going on in each department. There is also less chance of a Task ending up with an inaccurate or little used status. It is also easier to create filters when there are fewer statuses to worry about filtering in or out of a given page or report.

3. Keep processes consistent.

  • Create a Production Tracking guide.
    A production tracking guide can be helpful for balancing a consistent process that people know with updates and improvements to workflows and reporting procedures. Document existing procedures and collect ideas of what could or should change in a guide that is easily indexed and searchable. A good central document of how things are done, and why, will make it easier to revisit procedures when they are questioned or reviewed. You can also keep track of changes that didn't work out well. This can be a good reference to review around Postmortems and pre-production planning discussions.
  • Use naming conventions.
    Have a process for naming Shots, Assets, etc. to help with consistency. We recommend naming Shots by EPISODE_SEQUENCE_SHOT. For example, for Episode 001, Sequence 001, Shot SH001, the Shot name would be E001_S001_SH001. Make names as unique as possible, so that you don’t have multiple SH001’s in your project—this makes it easier to find in the Global Search and when importing new Shots, or other entities.
  • Use the same status icons and options for Notes and Tasks.
    For each Status field, you can configure which statuses appear in the list and in which order. Because these settings apply across all projects in Shotgun, we recommend keeping the statuses as generic as possible. Having your production teams leverage the same list of statuses across projects will allow you to build status summary reports that can span multiple projects. For additional status management, go to the Admin > Status List where you can manage the following fields per status:
    • Status Name
    • Icon
    • Short Code (only editable upon creation)
    • Background Color
    Any changes here will affect the status fields where these statuses are being used.

4. Use Shotgun to save time.

  • Bookmark important pages.
    Many Production Supervisors or Coordinators create custom pages that show just the information that their Artists need. Remind Artists that they can bookmark important pages in their browser and Favorite pages by clicking on the star icon next to the page title, which adds the page to their favorites list at the top of the Pages menu.
  • Use the Review Notes App and Summary Emails.
    Save time with the Review Notes app and Summary Emails. Coordinators don’t have to manually collage all the Notes from a review.

Advanced Shotgun tips

For more advanced Shotgun users, here is a list of additional tips to help you get the most out of Shotgun.

1. Keep workflows simple.

  • Use the built-in Project "Archive" feature.
    Checking the "Archived" checkbox on a Project triggers special functionality in Shotgun to remove old Project data from the pages and views that production uses each day. This can help simplify things when using global pages or searching across multiple projects, as results from finished projects are excluded. Note that archived Project data is still accessible by those who need it via certain pages.
  • Use the advanced preference for "Autocomplete Omit Statuses."
    With the “Autocomplete Omit Statuses” under Advanced Site Preferences, you can make it so that any entities with a Status field set to one of the statuses you define here will be excluded from autocomplete results (such as Global Search or entity link fields). To exclude Shots in "Omit" status, add "Shot:omt" to this Site Preference field. Or if you never want to see any entity in "Omit" status, type in "omt" and it will be excluded globally.
  • Move all advanced layouts and reports to the “Pages” area, for use by the advanced folks (Production).
  • Experiment in private pages, and only publish the good stuff.
    Have just one or two people in charge of the schema and official layouts. This helps keep things consistent and unified, and makes it easier to refine since it’ll be more clear what can be safely purged.

2. Configure settings based on your studio’s workflow.

  • Create custom fields.
    You can create new custom fields in list view by right-clicking on the column header and selecting Configure Field. However, it’s important to ensure that the newly created fields are generic enough to apply to multiple projects. Often we recommend that a single Admin be responsible for managing and creating fields, which prevents duplicate fields from being created by multiple Admins and being used to track the same information.
  • Configure New Entity Creation forms.
    When you click on the + icon in the navigation, you will launch the New Entity Creation form. As an Admin, you can click on the gear icon to configure and save which fields are displayed and in which order. You can then configure the following per-field settings:
    • Display field label
    • Override field label
    • Required for creation
    • Use tall text box
    We recommend keeping the default forms as clean and simple as possible by only including important fields relevant at the time of creation. Use of the “Required upon creation” feature is helpful when you want to enforce users to populate a field before allowing the record to be created. However, too many required fields will slow down the user.

3. Save time with these Shotgun features.

  • Use conditional formatting.
    Conditional formatting makes it easy to identify Tasks that are past due. You can set up formatting so that you know at a glance which Shot or Task to prioritize.
  • Avoid using “contains” filters when possible.
    The “contains” operator is the slowest type of filter. If you can, adjust the data format in certain places so that you do not need to use this filter. This will result in faster page loads. The “is,” “is not,” and “starts with” queries run much faster.
  • Track iterations.
    Use the Version entity in Shotgun to track Artist iterations on their work, or their dailies or review submissions. These can be very useful in the review workflow for tracking exactly which image was approved, linking to the source file it came from, and recording notes given in a review session.
  • Pin dates on Tasks.
    People often don’t realize that the actions they take may result in Task dates being pinned (i.e., manually changing a start or end date). We recommend pinning all dates in all Task Templates if you'd like to avoid auto-shifting Task dates. Note that this is not a hard and fast rule; Task Dependencies and their resulting shifts can be a useful scheduling tool, but they can also be problematic.
  • Track separate Tasks for Shots with multiple Artists.
    We generally recommend creating separate Tasks for each Artist in cases where multiple Artists are working on a Shot, and have different start and due dates.
  • Track assignment history.
    To see a historical record of which Artists are assigned to a Task over its lifetime, have a trigger that populates an "Assignment History" field on a Task every time the Assigned To field is edited. Basically when Artists or others are assigned to the Task, they would also be added to the Assignment History field, but they would never be removed. This way you have a record of all the Artists that were ever assigned, even if they were later unassigned.

For more information on how to use Shotgun, see the Shotgun User Guide.

We’re here to help make your Shotgun site great so if you have any questions, just reach out at support@shotgunsoftware.com.

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1 Comments

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    Juanmaria Garcia

    When you say "Design two pages maximum for artists", I don't get what you mean with the "Home" page. They have "My tasks" and "Inbox". Thanks

    It would be good a proposal of sequential order of configuration, for example: 1st people, 2nd pipeline config, 3rd tasks calendar .....

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