Shotgun Facilitates 300 Remote Artists for Collaboration on Short Film ‘The Squonk’
Los Angeles, CA - August 2, 2016 – Short film ‘The Squonk’ is the brainchild of Jannis Funk (co-writer and producer) and Mike Bothe (co-writer and director), and is based on a 19th century American folktale about the eponymous woodland monster. Originally a student project and now a passion project, Berlin-based Funk has recruited over 300 remote visual effects artists since principal photography in 2012 to donate their time and expertise to the film. Shotgun has been key throughout the process, from initial planning through production tracking and review.
‘The Squonk’ began in 2011 as Funk’s thesis project at Film University Babelsberg. Funk adopted Shotgun during the early planning stages, using it as a database to plan each shot and associated tasks. The entire film was storyboarded, previsualized, and loaded into Shotgun before principal photography even began. VFX Supervisor Timor Kardum of OMSTUDIOS also used Shotgun to note how long each task would take and how difficult it would be, which helped Funk during the artist recruiting process as he was able to give potential artists an accurate idea of the tasks, and assign tasks that they would realistically be able to fulfill.
Principal photography began in 2012 and included a 150 square foot life size set against a blue screen. Following the shoot, the crew constructed various miniature sets, and 900 individual elements – mostly miniature trees – to use as the basis for background replacements. Each tree was photographed at different angles and in different lighting situations, then added to a “tree library” in Shotgun. Artists could then easily sort by lighting situation and choose which element would work best on a shot-by-shot basis.
Funk shared: “We’ve been lucky enough to get volunteers from Framestore, Double Negative, Digital Domain, Scanline, Weta; lots of people who already work in these top facilities pulling long days and then they’re nice enough to go home and work on ‘The Squonk.’ Shotgun has been the backbone for our project – it has made it possible to realize a production at this scale and with this environment of international artists working remotely.”
Shotgun is also the center of Funk’s review process. The project’s VFX phase is now 89% complete, and the film is on track to be completed this year. With 220 total shots, 153 of those VFX shots, an efficient review process for the dispersed team is key.
“When you work remotely and you can’t get together with your team and look at the same screen and point at what’s in front of you, the Shotgun Review system is really helpful to immediately make notes right in the browser,” explained Funk. “Our director of photography lives in Switzerland now, our director is in Hawaii, Timor and I are in Berlin, and we can all comment on the same version as soon as it’s uploaded. I don’t know how that would be possible without Shotgun.”
Shotgun Software, an Autodesk company, builds scalable, cloud-based software for review and production tracking. More than 900 creative companies rely on the Shotgun platform, which now includes the RV image/movie player, to provide essential business tools for managers and visual collaboration tools for artists and supervisors, often working globally with distributed teams. Studios of all sizes including DreamWorks, Framestore, Blizzard, Microsoft, Double Negative and Ubisoft have adopted Shotgun’s customizable system and contribute to the ongoing development of its growing ecosystem of applications.