Scheduling Stanley Kubrick and Angry Birds

Feb 26, 2013



When I was in LA a couple weekend's ago visiting our LA office, I went to the LA County of Museum of Art to see a special exhibit on Stanley Kubrick (I'm a superfan). I expected to see a lot of memorabilia about his films, and I did, but I also saw a couple displays about how his production team scheduled the films. Here's a few pictures from the show:

This describes the instrument Kubrick's team used to schedule Aryan Papers, a film he never made. Keep in mind this was the 90's (Excel was around by this point!).

Here's the big view. Each row is a character or prop, and each column header represents a week in the shooting schedule. Each of the long columns represents a shoot scene and is a strip of laminated paper that you can move around in the timeline to reflect that scene's shoot date.

Here's a zoomed in view on the rows of characters and props. Each has an ID number to identify it.

It's hard to see here, but each strip has boxes for character/prop ID numbers that appear in the same position as their corresponding character/prop on the left. This lets producers quickly scan a row to see where a Character will show up in the shooting schedule. They didn't say this, but I'm guessing that producers try to group like-numbers together to minimize the number of times they'd need to call a Character to set or rent a prop.

Another view:

Here's an example of Barry Lyndon's schedule. This was the 70's, but not a whole lot changed between then and the 90's other than lamination and moveable columns :)

This just makes me wonder how many other low-tech tools are out there for scheduling films. We see lots of Excel spreadsheets, but there's something special about a physical board with moveable pieces.

While I was visiting one of our new clients, Rovio Entertainment, makers of Angry Birds, one of their producers shared another creative example of a scheduling board. They used legos to track an entire short film they're producing as part of the upcoming Angry Birds animated series:

They used lego men to represent artists assigned to the work. They also added bricks per department so you knew which department currently had the shot. Colored circles marked the render status if the shot was rendering on the farm.

Then during the show's wrap party, they took the lego board and morphed it into an incredible statue:

We're constantly on the hunt for scheduling boards that inspire. What these boards lack in detail they make up for in usability...and fun. Our goal is to bring those same concepts to Shotgun. If you have an awesome scheduling tool to share, post it in the comments.