Three products for one monthly fee will help all project members get on board.
As the evolution to digital pipeline for filmmaking evolves, creative types have been learning a lot about data management. As processes have increasingly become digital people, teams, and companies may be working on different parts of the pipeline simultaneously. Time and time again, we’ve been told, the digital filmmaking means a lot of things can happen a lot earlier and a lot faster. It’s a boon and it’s a management challenge. Managing data and assets has to move from primitive ad hoc methods—which often were only as organized as the people using them—to tools that enable everyone to participate in the project in an organized fashion. And they have to deal with a mass of different formats and even with proprietary tools.
The challenges of the VFX business are forcing companies to look for efficiencies and quite a few tools have been developed or are being developed. Some are based on traditional project management methods and often rely on general tools from Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, etc. Some are rather long in the tooth, as in the studios using customized versions of FileMaker Pro.
Shotgun is an example of a tool that has been built specifically for the VFX industry. The flagship product Shotgun was designed to enable companies to get a better grip on the scope of a project, its requirements, and its progress. From the start it has been designed to be customizable as well, with Python programming support built in.
Shotgun has been warmly received in the industry because it is building apps that address specific problems. It has added on Revolver for review and approval and Tank for asset and pipeline management.
The company’s products are all networked, allowing everyone involved to collaborate and see progress. Customers can take advantage of cloud synergies. Somewhere around in here is where Shotgun has made its big leap. The company has announced it is making all of its tools available for a monthly subscription price of $49 per user.
In announcing the deal, Shotgun CEO Don Parker said as the company expanded the products to more people involved in production, they realized their tools will work best if everyone involved in a project has access to them. Actually, that’s what their customers told them. “Almost everyone wanted one unified product, priced aggressively so everyone at the studio could use it,” Parker said.
The company is at 400 customers right now. The subscription price means the company gets a steady flow of dollars that might be lower than big suite package products, but customers are showing a willingness to subscribe rather than buy, especially if it means they have the flexibility to have lots of products and start and stop their subscriptions.
In practice now, Shotgun’s products will see increasing integration, and the divisions between Shotgun, Revolver, and Tank will blur. The Revolver name will go away.
Yet another company moves to subscription-based pricing, taking advantage of the cloud. Real magic can happen if everyone is better able to collaborate. But, and oops, magic should be a dirty word—just because you put the tools in place, doesn’t mean people use them or use them in the way they should. Shotgun is trying to make their products fun to use so they can get buy-in from everyone on the job.
Adobe has adopted a similar pricing schedule, and they too make amazing products available for a low price. Autodesk is trying to figure out something along those same lines. Others are likely to sweep right in and take customers with a sweet deal coupled with suite products. But there’s a hard next step, getting to productivity. The need for talented people who can manage people and tools is going to get stronger, and people will recognize it as multiple companies work with the same tools but get vastly different results.