Case study

Meet the Studio: Untold Studios

Company Founded: October 2018
Shotgun Users: 50+
Favorite Shotgun Features: Open and customizable Shotgun API

Ability to Scale with Shotgun

By Jacob Gonzalez, Pipeline Supervisor, Untold Studios

Untold Studios was founded in 2018 as an independent creative studio and community that produces content across TV, Music and Advertising. Our award-winning work reaches audiences around the world, with recent projects including VFX for season three of The Crown, the John Lewis Christmas commercial 'Excitable Edgar', and the upcoming documentary Welcome to Dale: The Elizabeth Carmichael Story.

The challenge

Creating a studio that is built for the future. We wanted to build a pipeline from the ground up with scalable solutions to manage communication, data, and productivity.

The solution

In January 2019, four months after we began creating our pipeline from the ground up, we started integrating Shotgun to streamline data and communication for the team. We started with a basic integration which, from the Asset Management side, supported uploading media to Shotgun for team reviews, including submitting to Shotgun directly from Nuke.

As our Pipeline was evolving, we fully connected Shotgun with our main creative tools—Maya, Houdini, and Nuke. Now anything published as an asset or for review is automatically represented in Shotgun. To achieve this, we use a proprietary asset management system that communicates and reads data from Shotgun using Shotgun’s API.

All projects containing VFX are immediately associated with a Shotgun project as they are being created on disk. Everything is published to Shotgun and every shot or project we’ve created episodes for is imported into the platform. Within the 14 months we’ve been up and running in Shotgun, we’ve done some truly amazing work!

Untold Studios has been cloud-based since day one and integrating Shotgun has meant we are built for the future. This infrastructure was truly integral in the midst of COVID-19 and a global shutdown. Our cloud and Shotgun setup enabled our team to seamlessly work remotely and allowed immediate scaling to accommodate project workload.

“Shotgun’s open API is one of the strongest features and biggest benefits to our studio, as it provides us with the ability to build a workflow that suits our needs”

The features

Shotgun’s open API is one of the strongest features and biggest benefits to our studio, as it provides us with the ability to build a workflow that suits our needs. We were able to create a data model that would be equal both in Shotgun and in our proprietary asset management system, structuring how assets are published and represented in Shotgun exactly as we envisioned it.

Rather than overhauling our entire pipeline and API, customization via modifications in Shotgun enabled us to meet our specific end goals. Every project uses the same pipeline, with customizations in Shotgun to provide users with different options and presets to tailor their workflows.

Communication is critical in VFX workflows, and Shotgun is our central hub where all users have access to all data in real-time; this includes all sequences, shots, assets, comments, and tasks. We also have a Slack integration so users receive notifications via Slack whenever relevant data is published into Shotgun. That cycle of communication is vital. If you don’t have a central hub where all data is accessible to everyone at the same time, you can’t work – especially if you’re not in the same building.

When we were presented the opportunity to complete 120 shots for The Crown, we didn’t need to extend our render farm or buy new machines for more artists. Through AWS Cloud, we have access to the latest technology, graphics cards, and workstations, and the maximum size render farm that we need without ever needing to expand hardware or physical infrastructure on-premises. Our cloud infrastructure and Shotgun-based pipeline puts us in a position to always say, “Yes, we can do that!” and scale accordingly.

We have embraced Shotgun as a core part of our cloud based infrastructure. In a post-COVID environment where remote working will continue to play a key part in the way people work, Untold Studios is built for this future.

Our AWS infrastructure creates a secure working environment for our clients wherever the talent is based. This creates new opportunities for us to work with a wider global talent pool.

With this talent pool our integration and implementation of Shotgun has and will play an integral role. It provides streamlined communication, asset management, and a centralised hub for productions to run from. We can approach any project presented to us with confidence. We have the talent, pipeline and infrastructure to deliver our jobs and Shotgun plays a pivotal part in this.

We can approach any project presented to us with confidence. We have the talent, pipeline, and infrastructure to deliver our jobs and Shotgun plays a pivotal part in this.