Case study

Meet the Team: Ecole MoPA

The Project: 3D animated film student short film
Location: Remote, working at home during COVID-19 lockdown
Time Required to Learn Shotgun: 2 weeks
Favorite Shotgun Feature: Annotated notes for review
Additional Software Used: Maya, Yeti, Zbrush, Substance Painter, Nuke, Marvelous Designer, Arnold and Adobe Creative Suite

By Kayu Leung, Marion Philippe, Théo Jamin and Jean Géraud Blanc, animation students at France’s Ecole MoPA

Shotgun simplifies creative project management for teams of all sizes, including students who are eager to learn the tools of the VFX and animation trade while maximizing their creative potential. At Ecole MoPA, a renowned computer graphics and animation academy in France, a team of fifth-year students recently tapped Shotgun during shelter-in-place mandates to manage production on a five-minute animated short. Learn how students Kayu, Marion, Theo and Jean Géraud rely on Shotgun production management to gain a competitive edge. Hear the team’s story from their perspective…

The challenge

As students, we have limited time and resources to manage the business and logistics of creating 3D animated films, and our hours would more effectively be spent on the creative aspects of the filmmaking process. During production on our recent animated short Les Chaussures de Louis (Louis’ Shoes), we envisioned a whimsical world with a handcrafted appearance to tell the story of an autistic child’s daily experiences at a new school and interactions with a world he does not always understand. Realizing the look of the film required the creation of more than 300 digital assets used to juxtapose Louis’ old and new school environments as he finds his place with his new classmates. In addition to the massive workload, our film also had to be created remotely in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

View the trailer of "Les chaussures de Louis"

The solution

In order to keep the project and track and our team connected remotely, we implemented Shotgun’s platform for organization and production management. We were introduced to Shotgun during our fourth year at Ecole MoPA on a project where we developed a minute-long animation with a creature character immersed in an environment. For this project, we learned how to organize and manage all aspects of developing a 3D animated film within Shotgun, from initial concept art to the final composite. Overall, it took our team about two weeks to familiarize ourselves with Shotgun, and we were able to implement a Shotgun-based pipeline during production on Les Chaussures de Louis to streamline production and communication even though we were all working on it from different locations.

“Tracking our progress within Shotgun spares us from dealing with time-consuming logistics and organization problems, letting our creativity soar. Shotgun gives us artistic freedom.”

The features

Shotgun is an intuitive platform that helps us simplify project workloads and easily breakdown tasks and assign roles, helping to demystify the overwhelming process of constructing a five-minute 3D animation from scratch. If one shot requires multiple tasks assigned to different people, we can easily visualize each step to better understand how long it will take to complete the sequence. Shotgun also provides an intuitive and dynamic approach to the filmmaking process, enabling teams to better communicate and review project status on a daily basis, especially critical for remote workflows.

Because our film required us to track such a large number of assets to tell the story of Louis’ journey from his old school to his new life, multiple treatments, designs and iterations of the assets and environments were necessary to develop the look of the film. It’s very easy to lose sight of the requirements for each shot, but with Shotgun, we could effortlessly know who is tasked with what and see where we’re at with different props.

Our favorite feature in Shotgun is annotated notes for making direct comments and drawings on frames during review sessions with our team and instructors. Because we have all been working at home during COVID-19, this feature enabled us to effectively identify problems and communicate with each other from remote locations. Within the review column, we could comment frame-by-frame and highlight areas that required feedback or improvement. When every frame counts, a streamlined review process kept our team on the same page and helped increase productivity.

Shotgun has given us a competitive edge, and we definitely recommend it for VFX students. We have so much to learn and experiment with during the creation of a film that it’s necessary to balance artistic vision with realistic production constraints, which can be overwhelming. Shotgun provides us with a comprehensive visualization of our workload, tasks and assets, allowing us to work both individually and as a group. Tracking our progress within Shotgun spares us from dealing with time-consuming logistics and organization problems, letting our creativity soar. Shotgun gives us artistic freedom.

Shotgun is an intuitive platform that helps us visualize project workloads and easily breakdown tasks and assign roles, helping to demystify the overwhelming process of constructing a five-minute 3D animation from scratch.

École MoPa

The history of MoPA is intrinsically linked to that of Supinfocom, created in Valenciennes (France) in 1988, the first French school entirely dedicated to CG imaging. In the year 2000, it opened in Arles. Over the next few years Supinfocom Arles forged its own path, gaining a reputation for excellence and winning its first international prizes. Since then the school has trained hundreds of top-level professionals who are now working throughout the world. The school is regularly ranked as one of the best in the world for CG training. Training is dispensed by experienced industry professionals who alternate their professional activities with teaching. In 2015, Supinfocom Arles became MoPA.