ShotGrid Engine for Alias

ShotGrid Integration for Alias DCC
Latest Version: v2.1.0 (prod)
For our version numbers, we follow the Semantic Versioning standard.
System Name: tk-alias

Please Note: This document describes functionality only available if you have taken control over a Toolkit configuration. Please refer to the Shotgun Integrations User Guide for more details.
Overview Summary
      Information for App Developers
            Alias Project Management
      Working with tk-alias
                  File Open and Save
                  Scene Breakdown
Installation, Updates and Development
Configuration Options
Release Notes History

The Shotgun engine for the Alias product family establishes a bridge between the Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit apps and Alias. This engine communicates to Alias through a plugin written for Alias. Once installed, it allows you to run the same apps that you have in Maya, Nuke, Photoshop and other applications.

Supported Application Versions

This item has been tested and is known to be working on the following application versions: 2019-2022. Please note that it is perfectly possible, even likely, that it will work with more recent releases, however it has not yet been formally tested with these versions.

Overview Video

The following video gives a quick overview of features and functionality.


The Shotgun engine for Alias contains a standard platform for integrating Shotgun Apps into Alias. It is lightweight and straight forward and adds a Shotgun menu to the Alias menu.

Information for App Developers


The Shotgun engine for Alias uses a PySide installation shipped with the Shotgun Desktop and will activate this whenever this is necessary.

Alias Project Management

Whenever the Shotgun engine for Alias starts, it will set the Alias Project to point at a location defined in the settings for this engine. This means that the Project may also change when a new file is opened. The details relating to how the Alias project is set based on a file can be configured in the configuration file, using the template system.

Working with tk-alias

This Shotgun integration supports the Alias application family (Concept, Surface, and AutoStudio).

When Alias opens, a Shotgun menu (the Alias engine) is added to the menu bar.

File Open and Save

Use the My Tasks and Assets tabs to see all your assigned tasks and browse for assets. To the right, use these tabs to view all files, working or published files associated with what is selected to the left.


Snapshot: Opens the Snapshot dialog to create a quick backup of the current scene.


Publish: Opens the Publish dialog for publishing the file to Shotgun, which can then be used by artists downstream. For more information, see Publishing in Alias. 


Loader: Opens the Content Loader app, allowing you to load data into Alias. For more information see Loading in Alias

Scene Breakdown

Scene Breakdown: Opens the Breakdown dialog, which displays a list of referenced (WREF References) content, along with what in the scene is out-of-date. Select one or more items and click Update Selected to switch and use the latest version of the content. For more information see Scene Breakdown in Alias

Installation and Updates

Adding this Engine to the Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit

If you want to add this engine to Project XYZ, and an environment named asset, execute the following command:

> tank Project XYZ install_engine asset tk-alias

Updating to the latest version

If you already have this item installed in a project and you want to get the latest version, you can run the update command. You can either navigate to the tank command that comes with that specific project, and run it there:

> cd /my_tank_configs/project_xyz
> ./tank updates

Alternatively, you can run your studio tank command and specify the project name to tell it which project to run the update check for:

> tank Project XYZ updates

Collaboration and Evolution

If you have access to the Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit, you also have access to the source code for all apps, engines and frameworks in Github where we store and manage them. Feel free to evolve these items; use them as a base for further independent development, make changes (and submit pull requests back to us!) or simply tinker with them to see how they have been built and how the toolkit works. You can access this code repository at

Special Requirements

  • You need Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit Core API version v0.19.18 or higher to use this.


Below is a summary of all the configuration settings used. These settings need to be defined in the environment file where you want to enable this App or Engine.


Type: bool

Description: Controls whether debug messages should be emitted to the logger


Type: list

Description: Controls the favourites section on the main menu. This is a list and each menu item is a dictionary with keys app_instance and name. The app_instance parameter connects this entry to a particular app instance defined in the environment configuration file. The name is a menu name to make a favourite.


Type: list

Description: Controls what apps will run on startup. This is a list where each element is a dictionary with two keys: 'app_instance' and 'name'. The app_instance value connects this entry to a particular app instance defined in the environment configuration file. The name is the menu name of the command to run when the Alias engine starts up. If name is '' then all commands from the given app instance are started.


Type: template

Description: Reference template to store the files created (.wref) when importing a file as reference.


Type: int

Default Value: 2022

Description: Specify the minimum Application major version that will prompt a warning if it isn't yet fully supported and tested with Toolkit. To disable the warning dialog for the version you are testing, it is recommended that you set this value to the current major version + 1.

Release Notes

Welcome to the release notes for this Engine. Below you will find an overview of all the changes we did for each release. We try to be as detailed as possible and include all bugs we have fixed, features we have added and things that may have changed. If you have questions about a particular release, don't hesitate to contact our support team!


  • Renames Shotgun to ShotGrid.


Alias 2022 support for tk-alias engine


Fixed Bugs

  • [SHOT-3711] - Fixed an issue in which Alias AutoStudio 2021.2.1 was not launching with tk-alias v2.0.9


Improved the performance for 3D Version creation on Publish. Fixed some important bugs to support and stabilize Shotgun in all Alias versions.


  • [SHOT-3700] - Remove File Format in Version Name to reduce confusion
  • [SHOT-3628] - Add config settings to always use LMV Translator shipped with tk-framework-lmv

Fixed Bugs

  • [SHOT-3619] - You can now "Assign to Yourself" a task in the Shotgun Panel
  • [SHOT-3630] - Fixed an issue where the Scene Breakdown removed a references if you updated the reference without saving
  • [SHOT-3637] - Fixed a bug where the Shotgun integration did not load unless Alias 2021 was installed
  • [SHOT-3678] - Fixed a bug where Alias would crash while switching from one stage to another
  • [SHOT-3698] - Fixed a bug where Alias Surface 2020.3 crashed when opening a file using Shotgun


Significant performance enhancement and multiple project workflow improvements.

Improvements - [SHOT-3565] - Import as Reference now supports multiple entities - [SHOT-3566] - Import as Reference now works across multiple projects

Fixed Bugs - [SHOT-3208] - Alias performance when the Shotgun background task manager is used is now greatly improved - [SHOT-3589] - Scene Breakdown app now supports multiple entities


Refactor of Alias engine to improve underlying architecture.
This engine version requires tk-framework-aliastranslations v0.1.1

Improvements - [SHOT-3344] - Add "Maximum Version" dialog to show when using the Shotgun engine in an untested Alias version - [SHOT-3464] - Action to import an image into Alias has been renamed from "Import into Scene" to "Create Canvas" - [SHOT-3431] - Update Shotgun Panel actions to have the same than the Loader's - [SHOT-3430] - Removed the redundant Loader pop-up when loading files - [SHOT-3438] - Prompt the user before clearing their stage - [SHOT-3449] - Improve Snapshot Loading to better handle stages in Alias

Fixed Bugs - [SHOT-3467], [SHOT-3468] - Publishing Variants & Annotations fails in Basic Config if no task was selected - [SHOT-3494],[SHOT-3498] - Fixed a bug where Alias did not open when the plugins.lst file was in a read only directory


Important Notes:

Official Support for Alias 2021 and Python 3
We have introduced a dependency on tk-framework-aliastranslations

Improvements: - [SHOT-3224] & [SHOT-3227] - Integrate Alias 2020.2 "Import as Reference" functionality to Alias Loader * See Configuration Updates to make this work for your configuration - [SHOT-3306] - Use the new tk-framework-aliastranslations when publishing an Alias translation - [SHOT-3315] - Add a validate() method to the plugin - [SHOT-2419] - Launch tk-multi-workfiles2 on startup in Alias & VRED - [SHOT-3297] - Launch Shotgun Panel on Startup of Alias and VRED in Basic Config

Fixed Bugs: - [SHOT-3251] - Context lost after loading a snapshot in Alias


Official Support for Alias 2020.3

Import Notes:

  • Adding LMV will require a new framework tk-framework-lmv.
  • Creating a 3D Version from VRED will now use the sg_uploaded_movie field. If you are using the legacy 3D viewer you will need to modify the field name to continue using it.
  • Upgrading to this engine version will require tk-core version of at least 19.3.


  • For OBJ, TSM, F3D, SF3D file formats, allow to Import Subdiv via the Loader. (available in Alias 2020.2 and newer)
  • Improve Alias auto-discovery logic and allowing for overrides of your Alias install path using the Software entities
  • Add Alias Publish hook that creates a Version that can be 3D or 2D with a boolean flag
  • When creating Variants as Notes on Publish, fill both the thumbnail and the attachment fields on the Note entity to improve viewability
  • Included a "Shotgun Legacy" plugin for Alias versions older than 2020.2
  • Create the Upstream and Downstream dependencies when publishing files from Alias
  • Adding "Translator Settings" in the "Publish Translation" when publishing from Alias allowing a studio to choose the default to include the user description on all Published translated files

Fixed Bugs

  • Do not loop through Alias Variants when opening the Publisher Dialog
  • Fixed crashing when opening on a new stage
  • Support publishing many variants
  • Publishing a lot of variants doesn't work in Alias?
  • Publishing variants would fails if no Version was selected by the user. If no Version is created, the Notes are only linked to the Published File. Otherwise, they are linked to both the Published File and the Version
  • Thumbnail will now show the user selected screenshot instead of the whole viewport
  • Incorrect Shader when Publishing thumbnails for Alias Variants


Fixed Bugs

  • Fixed backwards compatibility for Alias Shotgun Plugin


Fixed Bugs

  • Context lost after loading a file in a newly created file.

  • Fix the way we get the translator path for backward compatibility.

  • Alias doesn't show thumbnails and won't open in create.

  • Add start_version_control publish plugin to Alias engine.


  • Remove old translation plugins.

  • Make translation plugin just one.

  • Do not use the alias_translator_dir setting anymore.

  • Get command line for translations into a single plugin to be used in standalone publish 2 plugin.

  • Clean Loader hook for Alias.

  • Clean Hook and be sure the basic actions are added in Shotgun Panel (Set Task in Progress, Assign myself to Task).



  • Move the collector logic from tk-config to tk-alias engine
  • Create the publish2 plugins for tk-config-basic

Fixed bugs:

  • Fixed a bug related with context switching when user wanted to save a file outside Shotgun.


  • Fixed a bug in the menu where snapshot and snapshot history were launching the same app.

  • Fixed a bug with the plugin in fresh installations. This was ocurring when a python 2.7.X is not installed on the machine or the PATH environment variable doesn't contain a python executable folder.


Whats New:

With this major release we have added a new communication framework to improve the overall speed and resiliency between Alias and Shotgun. We have also addressed some cleanup and consistency with the rest of toolkit and fixed some customer bugs.


  • Replaced Alias communication protocol with Shotgun using pybind11 library
  • Remove dependency of tk-framework-atf
  • Make tk-framework-locking an optional dependency
  • Change hooks from tk-multi-breakdown, tk-multi-loader2, tk-multi-snapshot, tk-multi-workfiles2 and tk-multi-shotgunpanel to match existing Shotgun tk-default-config2 hook structure
  • Removed the about app and created software_credits files in each app/engine/framework repo
  • Cleanup messages in Publish logs while in DEBUG mode
  • Add sg_uploaded_movie for each Version created from Alias Publish
  • Modified WREF Publish Description in Publish hooks
  • Remove "Screening Room..." options in Alias
  • Improve Publish Hooks to support when publishing to a permission restricted directory
  • Remove "Import into a New Scene" action in tk-multi-loader2
  • Linked Task to Notes when publishing annotations and variants from Alias
  • Improved popup notification when loading in files from the Loader

Fixed Bugs:

  • Fixed some bugs related with the locking framework:

    • Unable to save file to Shotgun after publishing
    • Opening a file in Alias fails if using default file_usage_hook
  • Failed to Publish file with external references

  • Failed to publish file with variants
  • Failed to save file with external references
  • Alias Alternatives don't update when updating a reference using the Scene Breakdown app
  • Redraw Alias viewport when a "Scene Breakdown Update Selected" completes to show the changes


First release of Alias engine.