Tank offers new approach to DCC asset management

Shotgun Software extends the production tracking platform used on Hugo.  

As visual effects and animation become more complex and at the same time more common, the need grows for tools that support the work processes CG experts create for each project. Shotgun Software has been building a production tracking platform, based on the experience of the founding members in major studio animation. Today Shotgun releases its latest product, Tank, for organizing and automating a studio’s file-based workflow within the Shotgun environment.

Tank from Shotgun Software automated a studio’s file-based asset management system. It works with the other tools in the Shotgun CG workflow pipeline platform. (Source: Shotgun Software)

Visual effects and animation pipelines are in a constant state of evolution, with new tools, workflows, and requirements emerging with every project. Globally distributed teams, 4K image pipelines, and stereo conversion are only three such recent changes that are now being incorporated into studio CG work. Shotgun says Tank is designed with flexibility to provide studios a way to embrace such changes in an organized way while ensuring stability and consistency.

Shotgun says Tank is fully integrated with the Shotgun production tracking platform, providing tools to keep the file system organized and an app framework that provides a wide range of independent apps for specific functions such as file publishing, versioning, and scene building. The apps will integrate natively with a growing list of artist tools such as Maya, Nuke, 3ds Max, MotionBuilder, Houdini, and Photoshop. Python apps can be easily configured, branched, or re-imagined. Tank’s pipeline tools can be configured per project, so that studios can continually evolve their pipelines without disrupting active productions.

A new Tank app store will offer a marketplace for distributing artist-friendly apps that work out of the box, allowing studios to bootstrap parts of their pipeline without having to reinvent the wheel. Built-in support for Git and GitHub helps studios manage their custom Tank apps, and enables cross-studio collaboration.

Key features in Tank include:

File System Management—Tank keeps a file system organized, automatically creating directories and files based on configurable templates. Configure multiple structures for different projects, or enforce consistent conventions across all projects, whatever best suits the needs of the studio.

Deep Shotgun Integration—Provides a link between file data and production tracking information. Interactively launch external tools from Shotgun or leverage Shotgun’s notification framework and event trigger system to keep people at every level of the production up-to-date, and to automate file-based workflows based on file or production tracking events.

Apps and Tank App Store—Provides more than 30 apps designed specifically with artist usability in mind, automating common pipeline functions. Loaders, publishers, and other Tank apps work out of the box. The apps are natively integrated into leading tools such as Maya, Nuke, 3ds Max, MotionBuilder, Houdini and Photoshop. Other application integration is planned, including Mari, Katana, After Effects, Softimage, Mudbox and all core tools Tank clients use in production.

App Development Environment—Customize Tank apps, fork them, or build custom Python apps using Tank’s API, then distribute them across one or more projects. Manage studio apps internally on the file system, with a repository like Git, or share with the community via built-in GitHub support.

“Asset management is a hard problem to solve, but we’re determined to get it right,” says Don Parker, CEO, Shotgun Software. “The way Tank approaches the problem is by not trying to provide a single answer for everyone. Instead, Tank anticipates continuous change and improvements in the pipeline across multiple studios and provides a growing ecosystem of apps and tools to support pipeline evolution in a controlled and organized way.”

“Shotgun helped us successfully manage our global effects team on Hugo, and now Tank will allow us to unify all 13 of our facilities on a single and flexible asset management system,” said Thilo Kuther, founder, Pixomondo. “Tank’s core provides the foundation and management tools needed for a global pipeline, while Tank’s app framework provides the flexibility each location and project requires for the studio to continually evolve.”

Shotgun Software will be demonstrating Tank at Siggraph at the Los Angeles Convention Center from August 7-9, 2012, and will host its annual User Group Meeting on Tuesday, August 7 at 2:00PM. Tank is currently in private beta; Shotgun is ready to extend the beta and is publishing new apps to the Tank App Store in preparation for product launch.