This week, we talk with Toolkit specialist Tannaz Sassooni.
How did you come to join the Shotgun team? Where were you working prior?
I started in March of 2016 and am a Toolkit specialist on the Street Team.
I’ve worked as a pipeline TD in animation and visual effects since 2003, first at Rhythm+Hues, then at Dreamworks Animation for nine years. I love the process of sitting down with supervisors and artists, talking through different ideas to come up with efficient, intuitive workflows, and it’s a real pleasure to be able to offer my technical expertise to the creative process.
I saw the magic of Shotgun’s work-from-home ethos firsthand when an old friend from Rhythm+Hues, now an RV engineer, visited me in LA and was able to carry out his job from my couch. When I learned that another two of our Rhythm+Hues colleagues, whom I respect highly and know to be excellent pipeline engineers, were joining the Toolkit team, this only sweetened the deal. When a role opened up that would allow me to support clients as they use Toolkit to build their own pipelines, I jumped at the chance.
How has your background helped you on the Shotgun team?
My experience designing, implementing, and maintaining pipelines at Dreamworks Animation and Rhythm+Hues gives me a solid background to give informed advice to our clients on best practices for their own pipelines. I’ve lived through a lot of common pitfalls in production, and armed with that experience along with knowledge of what Toolkit offers, I can help clients weigh their options, so that together, we can land on solutions that make the best sense for their studios.
What are you currently working on?
In addition to the day-to-day of fielding questions from clients, my personal project at work right now is to build a set of training modules, both internally and for our Toolkit clients. It was only after I started working at Shotgun that I learned the sheer breadth of the Toolkit world – it’s massive! We offer integrations with so many DCCs, across three operating systems, and deal with a vast variety of studio customizations.
I quickly felt lost, and wanted to formalize the training process so that I could better field the wide range of questions that we get, and so that our users could maximize all that Toolkit has to offer. I’m currently building a series of webinars and internal training sessions, along with revamps of the related documentation that we hope to start rolling out in the coming months.
Can you describe a typical day for you?
Because I’m on the west coast, my day starts at 8am with a series of virtual meetings with engineers and other Street Team folks. I’m still blown away that my regular meetings include colleagues from Oregon to South Carolina, from Montreal to Paris and London, and even Australia and New Zealand. Throughout the day, I’m corresponding over email with clients, testing or debugging issues they might be having, continually corresponding with the team (our collection of custom emoji is legendary), and chipping away at longer-term projects. Occasionally, I’ll visit client studios, and it’s always a treat to see Toolkit out in the wild.
What are some creative ways Shotgun is being used?
I was thrilled to learn at SIGGRAPH that NASA is using Toolkit to create some of their animations. I guess the sky really is the limit with Shotgun!
What’s something you wish people knew they could do in Shotgun?
Run simple integrations with zero configuration necessary! Toolkit has a reputation for a steep learning curve and a somewhat intimidating set of configurations, but earlier this year, we released a version of Shotgun with plug-and-play integrations. With these integrations, artists can simply install the Shotgun Desktop app and select their project, and right off the bat, they can get access to relevant Shotgun data within software packages like Maya, Nuke, and Houdini, publish their work for downstream departments to pick up, and load their colleagues’ work into their sessions. We’ve still got all the customization and extensibility Toolkit is known for, but now you can swim a little further before braving the deep end.
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