In this self-initiated project, inspired by the challenges a studio with multiple simultaneous projects was facing on daily basis, I have implemented a series of solutions aimed at improving the workflow, project organization and overall efficiency at Arold Imaging.
After a careful observation and a series of interviews, I noticed the company “bottlenecks” were tied to an inconsistent pipeline and workflow standards. As a result, whenever a project was passed on to a new team, a substantial amount of time was spent on “catching up”.
On the other hand, the client feedback was delivered through cascades of unfiltered emails, while multiple pipeline apps were being used for the same task with conflicting results.
Discrepancies regarding file locations, budgeted hours and task assignments were also evident.
My solution was to implement and customize Autodesk Shotgun that would increase productivity and flexibility, while maintaining a structured file system that could easily be integrated with the existing software and local servers.
Autodesk Shotgun Internal Review Dashboard
Shotgun is a set of tools that helps digital studios keep track of each individual project by organizing all necessary information associated with it in one location, such as production assets and shots, time management, schedules and tasks.
At the same time, it provides a platform to assist with work reviews and revisions. All client feedback could now be extracted and filtered from email chains and located within the relevant project’s shotgun feed.
Also, with a dedicated review app, the clients could log in and make notes regarding specific shots or assets that were automatically attached to the task and assigned to the artist that was working on it.
Left: All the HDR Channels | Right: Dynamic Composite Result
I had multiple reasons to push for the implementation of Linear Work Flow, or LWF, as a way to revise our work in a much faster way and deliver results with higher quality levels.
Firstly, it is a robust solution that supports highly dynamic ranges in rendered images, in many cases more than 30 stops of exposure, resulting in a precise color spectrum and, consequently, better-looking images.
Secondly, the amount of data that can be saved in one .EXR file is far superior to any of the competing file formats, which allows for a less confusing render output, with all channels stored in one file.
Most importantly, it enables us to rebuild the final renderings in post-production based on the key components. We can decrease or increase the power, range, color and contrast of all lights sources in the same file – giving greater control over any rendered image.
As the implementation of LWF implied we would need to stop using After Effects and Photoshop as our main post-production tools, we adopted Nuke, the app developed to work extremely well with LWF.
Later on, we closed the circle by linking Nuke to Shotgun, making LWF the main post-production system.
Client’s Online Version Of The Arnold Imaging 3D Model Library
Arnold Imaging had a library of over 8000 unique 3D models, but an inefficient folding system made the use of this valuable asset very difficult.
I first standardized all models with associated images and categories, after which I implemented a 3Ds Max plugin that allowed the studio artists to search the database and merge models directly into the program. This improved both the efficiency and final render quality.
Additionally, I conceived a workflow and designed a web UI that gave our clients the option to choose specific models for their projects and provide direction regarding their use. The selected models were compiled into a list and pulled directly from our in-house library into the production pipeline.
The experience with the library has been so positive and it was so well accepted that the system is now voluntarily maintained by other team members.