Jellyfish Pictures Taps Shotgun for VFX, Animation & Motion Graphics Workflows

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Jellyfish Pictures provides a full range of visual effects, animation and motion graphics services, and has earned BAFTA, Emmy and VES Award recognition for its work. Founded in 2001, the company currently operates out of three locations in London. The Noho studio handles live action film, TV and advertising projects like “Star Wars Rogue One,” “Black Mirror” or “Outlander,” and the Brixton outfit and recently opened Oval office specialize in animation, largely for children’s TV including BBC’s “Bitz n’ Bob” and “Floogals,” now available in the US. Shotgun has been part of Jellyfish’s workflow for a while, but they’ve recently integrated it more deeply using Shotgun’s Pipeline Toolkit to automate repetitive tasks, free artists’ time to create and enable more iterations.   

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Jellyfish Pictures 2D Lead Matt Plummer helped instigate the implementation of Pipeline Toolkit and writes a lot of applications and systems for publishing from Shotgun. Originally a compositor, Plummer began learning Python a few years ago and quickly realized the time that could be saved by automating simple but tedious tasks. He said, “Shotgun is a lifesaver for every project. If you have to deliver 52 episodes with 150-200 shots per episode, having Shotgun means it’s all organized and it’s all easy. I can’t imagine doing another season of ‘Floogals’ without it; we wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Given the high volume output by Jellyfish’s animation arm, any means for streamlining is hugely beneficial. The level of automation afforded by Shotgun has freed Jellyfish artists’ time for creating, rather than asset management. On “Floogals,” Flash comps were assembled automatically through Shotgun. Lighting would publish passes to Shotgun then a template system coded by Plummer would read those passes and create a composite of them, enabling artists to turn around a first version super quickly. Another useful Shotgun application written by Plummer automatically publishes OBJs from Autodesk Maya, instead of having to open the Maya file and export an OBJ every time it’s needed.

After successfully integrating Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit for Maya into its workflow, Jellyfish has added Pipeline Toolkit for The Foundry’s NUKE and Adobe Photoshop, and is looking to add The Foundry’s MARI in the near future. Plummer explained, “Pipeline Toolkit provides a lot of free useful features that remove tasks you’d normally have to work out yourself – like where work files are located on disk, how it publishes, generating QuickTimes for publishers and what it’s actually publishing. I only need to configure the high level bits and pieces rather than manually coding them. It’s made my life a lot easier.”

With access to Shotgun’s inner workings through Pipeline Toolkit and the Python API, Plummer has a lot of power to configure the software to do what artists need. “In terms of just installing Pipeline Toolkit and getting the basics, Shotgun is super easy. Building custom applications depends on the difficulty of what you’re trying to make it do, but if I can learn Python and get a full studio pipeline working, pretty much anyone can do it,” concluded Plummer.

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