Senior Post Producer Troy Wuelfing oversees digital video post operations at IKEA in Sweden, producing more than 500 marketing films per year for global distribution. Learn how Shotgun helps the team scale for project workloads, collaborate with production teams internationally and deliver on-time.
Tell us about yourself and the work you do at IKEA.
I am Senior Post Producer at IKEA Communications located at the global headquarters in Älmhult, Sweden. We operate like an internal agency for IKEA and we produce more than 500 films per year, ranging anywhere from new product informational videos, to lifestyle spots for social channels, to technical or mechanical videos that show how products work, to internal corporate videos. IKEA has more than 220,000 employees internationally, so there’s a large demand for corporate communications materials, like branding, company values or training videos.
Internally, my division has our own producers, crew, stage and 3D department, and we have a network of local production companies that we frequently collaborate with in Sweden. Our work varies from short spots for social media to longer two-to-three-minute minute promos delivered for use by international markets. We anticipate we’ll be ramping up production in the near future to deliver even more video projects.
When did you start using Shotgun?
I’d first been introduced to the tool eight years ago, and while working at an 18-person studio in Florida I helped build out a Shotgun-based pipeline for my team. I’ve worked with colleagues at bigger facilities that were all using it, so I knew that it could scale.
Why did you choose to integrate Shotgun into your pipeline?
Shotgun was really the clear answer for me, knowing the logistics behind trying to organize 500 films concurrently going through production and post. When I first started, all of our production management was Excel- and email-based. You do this for a while and realize it doesn’t scale or support clear and efficient communications.
For me, there were very few options when looking for a tool that would support our studio’s needs, and Shotgun was the clear winner for many reasons. Shotgun solved a lot of issues, including helping us collaborate better, reducing email, keeping schedules up-to-date and allocating work more efficiently.
How are you currently using Shotgun throughout the production chain?
We're using Shotgun to organize work on-set during production, as well as throughout post, visual effects and animation. Things are evolving very quickly.
Can you discuss your workflow?
We get orders for high-volume projects, 50 films or more at a time, and for each set of films we have a pre-production stage to plan logistics. All storyboard approvals go through Shotgun, then we build out the schedule and create automated call sheets, lists of products and shots, who’s assigned to what, etc.
On set, we have automations for our DIT during production, then the DIT processes all footage and creates offline versions. Shotgun automates these processes and triggers a notice to the offline editor once the transcode is complete, then they set up a Resolve project for editorial with all footage ready to go. By the time a project hits post, we already have the Resolve project set up with the right bins in place. This is critical, because we’re looking to expand our workload and go from 50 films per order to 200-300. With Shotgun, we’ve gone from spending 2-3 hours creating offlines, and now we’re often done in less than 20 minutes.
Are there any challenges that Shotgun has helped you overcome?
We’re working on very short films that are formulaic, so production isn’t the biggest challenge. It’s really communication, and that’s where Shotgun has saved us a ton of time. All of our bottlenecks were previously in communication, and Shotgun has helped us automate a lot of this.
Many of our filmmakers aren’t from traditional production backgrounds, which makes a tool like Shotgun essential. Even without decades of production experience, the pipeline steps we’ve built into Shotgun ensure our projects keep moving forward in the right direction.
What are your favorite Shotgun features?
In general, the fact that it’s been designed and created by production people. We know there are paths to best practices built right in, so we have an easier time developing our process and pipelines. Shotgun is built for filmmaking, whereas previous tools have come from other industries.
The Client Review Site is also fantastic. There’s a lot to be said for clients being able to mark up right on the film. It gives them confidence, and for me, it’s accountability. I know exactly who asked us to do what, and we have a record of the feedback. This reduces a lot of potential conflict, because we don’t have to rely on memories of conversations and email exchanges. We have all client feedback recorded directly.
Another feature I really love is how easy it is to manipulate the Gannt view of the schedule. It’s a common approach for project management, but it makes it easy to filter, sort and see how the project is being scheduled, from a task perspective.
Aside from Shotgun, what production and content creation tools are you currently using?
During production, we shoot mainly on Blackmagic URSA cameras, and we have an additional ALEXA camera available when we need it. We storyboard in Adobe InDesign, the same tool that all of the graphic design for the IKEA catalog is done in. All online and some of our offliine editing is done in DaVinci Resolve, and Autodesk 3ds Max is used for modeling and animation. We render in V-Ray and compositing is done primarily in Adobe After Effects, with some work completed in The Foundry’s NUKE. In general, we’ve tried to build our pipeline as tool agnostic as possible.
You mentioned that many of your projects are distributed globally. How do you maintain consistency?
We’ve implemented ACES (the Academy Color Encoding System) to maintain consistency in color and for reusing, mixing and matching assets across facilities and production companies. We work with 50 markets across 50 countries that reuse our materials and hire their own production companies for projects. By using the ACES industry standard as our color management path, it ensures color will not limit the value of the footage that we’re creating.
If we keep our masters in ACES EXRs, then anyone can do any work they want with them. Although ACES has a reputation for being complicated, it took me a month of part-time work to build our ACES pipeline. I’m not a color scientist or a colorist, and neither is the photographer who helped me, and we were able to get it fully up-and-running in that short period of time. Now that we’ve defined the ACES pipeline and workflow, anyone can color grade online without having to understand the full system. It’s that easy.
Additionally, I’m pushing to make our pipeline tools opensource so that we can make them available to our vendors.
Is there anything else you’d like to add in closing?
Shotgun is the glue that binds all of our tools together. As we move forward, it will continue to become the central hub where all production and post data is stored. There’s also such a great support network from the Shotgun team and community of other users.