Timor Kardum, partner, VFX supervisor, and director at OMSTUDIOS in Berlin, Germany gives us insight into the innovative ways that OMSTUDIOS uses Shotgun, including custom integration with After Effects for their artists, and even using Shotgun as an easily accessible freelance artist database.
Tell us about your company and the type of projects you work on.
OMSTUDIOS is a media production company based in Berlin with four departments, each led by a partner: film, design, VFX, and post production. All partners are part of the daily operation as director of photography, creative director, visual effects supervisor, and post production supervisor. As part of the film department we also have a drone unit that uses our OMCOPTER – the first drone in the world to fly with a RED Epic. This was used to shoot plates for Fast/Furious 6, Monuments Men, Hercules and many more. We work on many different types of projects: VFX for commercials, corporate films, and feature films, and a lot of massive motion design projects. The bulk of work is in the motion design projects, which often have crazy resolutions, frame rates, and other special requirements (live projection mapping, etc.).
Is your team working in multiple locations? Who is using Shotgun?
We all operate out of our office in Berlin, Germany. 30-40 people there currently use Shotgun. Overseeing the artists, we currently have six producers, three art directors, one creative director, and one VFX supervisor (me). If there is a car show in some place like Singapore, we even go there with a little team of artists with a mobile render farm and give support on-site.
What content creation tools do you use in-house?
We have two departments that use different tools: motion design is entirely After Effects and Cinema4D; VFX is primarily Nuke and Maya. We edit on Avid and our grading suite runs DaVinci Resolve.
Do you develop proprietary tools? If so which one are you most proud of?
I am definitely most proud of the After Effects integration, as this is something that I have not seen anywhere else – and I have seen what happens if you do not have a pipeline in place but a lot of creative forces creating a lot of creative files at a lot of creative places on the server. Receiving the Shotgun Pipeline Award for this was hugely satisfying, believe me!
I spend a great deal of time thinking about how NOT to annoy artists with the pipeline. I want to give them a system that enables them to get going with the fewest clicks possible. I picture artists like painters that should not have to search for their canvas and tools, rather their tools should be there and ready when they need them."
Why is it important to pay such close attention to your pipeline?
I spend a great deal of time thinking about how NOT to annoy the artists with the pipeline. I want to give them a system that enables them to get going with the fewest clicks possible. I always picture the artists like painters that should not have to search for their canvas and tools, but their tools should rather be there and ready when they need them. This helps them to focus on the creative stuff and reduces frustration. I try to spend at least a couple of minutes every day thinking about how to improve the pipeline. I would love to spend more time and resources on it; unfortunately the budgets and timing often do not allow this.
Why has your company been so successful?
I think the rare combination of a film production house with a full blown post, design and VFX branch is a powerful combination, especially in the days of complex technical projects like 360° VR, high frame rates, drone shoots, etc. We have the expertise to plan a shoot based on the requirements for post, something that most film productions have to look for externally.
What's a day in the life like for you?
Depending on the project I mostly start with the dailies, as I want to give the artists feedback as quickly as possible. After this I usually start answering all relevant emails and then do the tour through the office, checking to see if all is going well. If we have a shoot going on, it's all quite different of course, that's the beauty of the job!
What are the three most important things in your office?
1. A great atmosphere
2. Good communication (Shotgun helps a lot here)
3. The Italian coffee machine
How do you do to stay connected to the artist community?
We have the luxury to have a lot of different freelance artists coming and going on every project, so staying in touch is easy. We also use Shotgun as a freelancer database with more then 650 artists all tagged with their skills, tools, reel, etc. so we can find the right people for the job fast. And then there are great meet-ups in Berlin both for VFX and motion design people.
What inspires you?
A million things. I love the techy-geek stuff as much as beautiful design and great international crews that bring their own cultural background into the office every day.
What is your favorite thing about working in your city?
Berlin is currently (apparently) THE place to be, especially in the digital design business, which is a great thing for me as company owner as I can tap into the best international talent, something that was not so easy a couple of years ago. Also Berlin still has a great deal of uncharted territories and wild, inspiring hidden corners.
When you aren’t working, what’s the ideal way to spend a day?
I’d rather not stay in the city over the weekends if I can avoid it, but go into nature and do things like rock-climbing or kite surfing with my family (including my 4 year old daughter).
What led you to visual effects?
I was already freelancing in 3D modeling/animation when I was still at school, so there was never really the question where I would end up. I started the company with my partner right after school and we went straight for it.
Can you describe a recent project where Shotgun was essential?
For every project we run, Shotgun is at the core of it. It not only creates the project folder in the beginning, it also pushes it to archival storage after it is finished (we can even put a project "on hold" and it will be "parked" on a different storage location just by changing its status inside Shotgun). We do a lot of international car shows for brands like Volkswagen, Porsche, Lamborghini, etc. and for this we developed a custom After Effects integration which you can see here: https://vimeo.com/130435523 (we just won the Shotgun Pipeline Award for this and are stoked!!). We can currently run three car shows simultaneously, one in 8K 50fps, the other two in 6K 50fps. It’s impossible without Shotgun.
Also in April we finished a 4K corporate film for Hanergy, the biggest solar company in the world. I directed that project and it is a great example of how smoothly a project can go with a solid pipeline. We shot in Germany and China and you cannot imagine how awesome it was to see the latest renderings automatically popping up inside the Shotgun app in the back of a truck in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and being able to give feedback instantly. The clients could not believe their eyes!
What’s your favorite feature of Shotgun?
There are countless features I could not live without anymore: the consistency it gives to all projects, the reduction of human errors to a minimum, the ability to see the status of the entire show at a glance, the deep integration into other tools like Thinkbox Deadline and RV, etc.
What is the biggest challenge in running a studio today?
Probably finding the right balance between projects that are necessary to survive, while at the same time staying true to your love of crafting impossible worlds and projects that are close to your heart.