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.

10 thoughts on “The List of VFX Project Tools”

  1. Hey Cemeron,
    Congratulations on coordinating the film project for PXC. I also saw your tutorial on showrunner.com. Interesting software. Something you set up as well?

    Regards,
    Nick S

  2. Hey Nick,

    The software I’m building in conjunction with the PXC project is ShotRunner. It is at http://www.shotrunner.com. I’d be interested in getting your feedback and can set you up with an account. Check out the forums on that site also.

    P.S. ShowRunner is a filemaker solution also for tracking VFX. Similar name, different approach.

  3. Project Overlord looks interesting depending on your focus. It seems to be primarily tracking files and assets in a LAN environment, maybe trying to be closer to something like AlienBrain than VFX ShowRunner. Hard to tell from a few screenshots. They do have a free trial so it is something you could check out. It appears to be Windows-only vs. being a web application.

    The thing I’m building assumes a very distributed team, is a web application, and tries to build communication first instead of a lot of really complex shot/asset information.

  4. Andrey, how would you classify the Microsoft offering? I read through their evaluators guide, and it seems that they have: media management including metadata tagging, task tracking (through outlook/exchange), a video review/annotation module, workflow, and have built some links to video transcoding partners. Seems like a direct competitor to Final Cut Server and possibly AlienBrain. They don’t seem to offer any VFX functionality like shot breakdowns, budgeting, film/telecine management, etc. Have you used this product? Is this a fair summary?

  5. I haven’t used it I’ve only read their releases and blog posts. The point is that IMM just expands SharePoint portal capabilities towards video assets management. I don’t think it’s made specifically for VFX management it’s rather general media production management tool. By now I would compare it to FCS but with more powerful development and integration capabilities.

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