The List of VFX Project Tools

Over at the PixelCorps, we are working on a bunch of visual effects shots for an independent film. It is a massively distributed project with the director, producers, VFX supervisors and artists located all over. I’m part of the production management team and the task of coordinating 50+ people located all around the world is — complex. Communication is the key thing.

A project like this really needs a system that people can collaborate around, something that would help coordinate a far-flung post-production team: posting the shot breakdowns, shot assignments, task progress, submission and review cycles, client approvals, tracking the progress of the overall pipeline, moving assets and work outputs.

Being a database guy, my first thought is: “Aha! I need a database.” My next thought was: “Surely, someone has already built one.” However, so far, I’ve found nothing that really fits the bill. I started using a spreadsheet but quickly found that I could not keep up with all the activity.

It seems that the big houses have elaborate home-grown systems for managing the shots, and assets, and budgeting and all that — but what do small/independant VFX producers use for project management to keep everything organized? So I started doing research for my own home-grown VFX project database. I’ve come across the following resources which I’m posting here for reference.

UPDATE (7/18/08): I added Shotgun and Flowsmith to the list.

UPDATE (10/24/08): I’ve move the list to its own page.

Beware! The Ctrl-Opt-Cmd-Dot Gamma Nightmare

I just solved a color issue on my Mac that was so insidious, so destructive and so mind boggling that I had to post a warning to others.

I was working away on some video, doing motion graphics and color correction, etc. and at some point, I noticed that everything seemed darker and “off”. I really noticed it in some motion graphics that have grey lines over black: the grey lines were barely showing up.

I looked at every display setting I could find. I read up on all of the crazy gamma shift issues around Mac, QuickTime, Final Cut, etc. I was tearing my hair out, and about to do something drastic, like reformat my hard drive and reinstall everything.

Then finally, almost by accident, I stumbled past the Universal Access settings. My Display was set to Enhanced Contrast. If you use this key combination: Ctrl-Option-Cmd-. (dot) you will increase the display contrast by one notch. I must have hit this by accident — although I’m not sure how. This totally changes your display gamma curve across everything, and is insidious because it is not a setting you will find anywhere on the Display prefs.

Problem solved. Doh!