Project workflow / pipeline - how is it all managed?

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Old 09 September 2004   #1
Project workflow / pipeline - how is it all managed?

Hi all,
It would be great to know the pipeline or workflow pattern of a project. especially the animation part.
1)more specifically how the directory structure is maintained?
2) how reviews happen and how many passes are there?
3) how inputs, outputs and wips are taken care? the blasts aswell as the 3d files?
4) is there a central server for textures? is it a good idea?
5) what if there are changes in a rig in the middle of a shot? where does the scene file go?


btw - did a search for pipeline and workflow in the forum and came with none results.
regards,
andy
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Last edited by andy_maxman : 09 September 2004 at 01:19 PM.
 
Old 09 September 2004   #2
This is an impossible question to answer as it will vary from project to project. The only constant I can think of is a rigidly defined naming convention for everything which is firmly enforced throughout. What that naming convention is will vary but the important part is that everyone adheres to it.

Otherwise I think your question is too broad to answer sensibly.

Best,

A
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Old 09 September 2004   #3
oooh nice thread Andy, btw.

Anyway to answer you questions, from Framestore and my current job.

1)more specifically how the directory structure is maintained?

1 central server, local machines go back and forth from it. As to file structure it may be:
eg. scene_04/shot_12/0011_01.max

Server/local holds texture/scenes etc etc, local machines are just ports into it, when you save you scene.It saves it to the server for backup.

There may be a renderserver where from your machine in say cgwin/unix/windows you send your render command. Tis allow people to grab from the serve,r your shot edit it, add sound.
Also it may also send automails out to each dept for clarfication e.g: shot01_seq_20 ready for edit,comp etc etc. This also apply for vfx, renderpasses, etc etc.

2) how reviews happen and how many passes are there?

Do you mean Daylies, or weeklys? In daylies at the end of each day all the animators go through the shots see if there ready to be finished off or passed. Weeklys are the same but are generally pretty close to finished, in my experience these are more common.

As to passes? i.e render passes the animator doesnt go near them, after there checked out to the server its the job of the td to add lighting, then it goes to comp.

Alot of studios do scene assembly/lighting before it goes to the animator it just depends.

3) how inputs, outputs and wips are taken care? the blasts aswell as the 3d files?

Output sequential frames, eg. targa, pic,tiff, rendered onto server for offline/online edits.
Wip either/locally or server based. Generally server based if your machine blows up and you need to work. Playblasts/test locally. We had a system whereby you could render what youve done so far into a sequence shot list, see how the anim looks then continue. 3d files
stored server side.

4) is there a central server for textures? is it a good idea?

Depends on you production, the animators dont need to worry. Only the tds, render ranglers, render monkeys, shader artist, renderman/mental ray tds. So stored on sever for them and rendermanager, this applys to renderplugins aswell. Everything comes from a server, tds tweak shots locally then send off to render server.


5) what if there are changes in a rig in the middle of a shot? where does the scene file go?

Usually handled on a animator/td locally if its a one off. Td fixes problem puts scene/rig back onto server animator continues. If theres a crucial say facial shaped then td affects base rig. This really depends on your workflow, if you have a system whereby you layer animations onto a rig, then you can add shapes tweaks to the base rig.

Changes in the middle of a shot - well this is a rarety. It does happen but usually we asses the storyboards before the entire pipline is setup and build the rig to meet all the characters performances.

Where does the scene file go? - server for backup.

You may have many servers - production server, render server. Production server holds rigs/scenes/sounds/meshes/previs/blockout/lighting/textures.

Renderserver talks to production server grabs scenes/textures rendershots into sequential files. Email Avid edit suite shot 0001_0011 ready for edit.

Avid edit then burnt to film with say Cineon 2k scanner or output to ntsc/pal.

With animation production vfx are generally before rendering so the avid etc just edits ir, no need for flame/inferno etc etc.

So pipeline for Animation production.

server holds rigs/meshes/sounds(adr)even plates if its vfx.

model/texture to server

from-server-rig model-to-server

from-server-Scene assembly -to-server

from-server-animation blockout -to-server

from-server-final animation -to- server

from-server-lighting-to-server

from-server-shading-to server(this may go with modeling/rigging)

from-server-vfx-to server(This is very dependant on the production as it will probably have its own department working closely with the animators and riggers/lighter etc etc.)

Jobs sent to renderserver from server.

from-renderserver(seq) -to edit(input)

edit - output (film,video etc)


Basically the shot goes around each department, adding lighting/vfx/textures/etc to final goes to render.

Afterward you have a final edit and sound is scored to the production ( the best way imo)

eek
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Old 09 September 2004   #4
Omg Thank You

Andy..
thank you for asking that question... i once asked it similar. but i guess i was to broad.. and dind't quite get the correct replies


eek...

DOOD u seriously RULE for answering that question.. in such a manner... u didn't just help us both.. i am sure many other peeps as well .. have come across that question many times and never had outside input on how to do it...and the way you put it.. so detailed it Rocks.

much much Thanks

All the Best
alx
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Old 09 September 2004   #5
Thanks,

Happy to help out.


eek
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Old 09 September 2004   #6
eek thou art truly ov thee noblest ov geeks
Cheers man , that must've taken some time

w o w
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Old 10 October 2004   #7
Originally Posted by andy_maxman: Hi all,
It would be great to know the pipeline or workflow pattern of a project. especially the animation part.
1)more specifically how the directory structure is maintained?
2) how reviews happen and how many passes are there?
3) how inputs, outputs and wips are taken care? the blasts aswell as the 3d files?
4) is there a central server for textures? is it a good idea?
5) what if there are changes in a rig in the middle of a shot? where does the scene file go?


btw - did a search for pipeline and workflow in the forum and came with none results.
regards,
andy

1) At almost every place I've worked at, everything is maintained on servers. Everything including your home directory. This serves a few purposes. It protects assets because you can make a secure library for final assets and a work library for work in progress. It makes it easy to back all the assets up. Having the users personal home directories on the server means that personel can log into any machine on the network and have access to all their personal files as well as the entire production. You absolutely do not want your users keeping production assets on their own machines. You want everyone to have access to all the assets they need from anywhere on and sometimes off site. This is why so many companies use linux or some variant of Unix, and all use some sort of asset mangement software like alienbrain, though most companies seem to use some in house web based tools to check assets in and out. Certain critical assets, critical to the production as a whole, like code, characters or rigs, will be protected in a way that in order to make changes you have to check it out of the library, and only one user can check it out for changes at a time. Any user can grab the current asset and use it, but only one can be altering it at any given time.

2) reviews are a daily process in all areas of production. It's very convoluted and reviews are handled in different ways in different departments. Usually an asset whether it be a render an animation a rig, whatever, cannot be checked into the production library unless it has been tested or checked and met some sort of approval.

3)Textures like everything else should be maintained on a server and protected from the users.

4)Where I work, and I would hope at most places, rigs are generally nailed down before the character goes into animation. If you need to update a rig during or after animation you can do it, simply update the rig in the shot. If the animation breaks, roll it back to an older rig. In a good pipeline you aren't passing scene files back and forth, the shots are composed of distinct modular assets all independent of each other and capable of being swapped in and out, upgraded and downgraded without destroying previous work.
 
Old 10 October 2004   #8
my sincere thanks to eek, Andrew W, Cronholio for the more than generous replies.
i do plan to sketch out a small pipeline myself for animation keeping in mind the kind of work that happens in our studio and then post it here for crits and comments.
regards
andy

ps - any more inputs are most welcome from fellow cgtalkers
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Old 10 October 2004   #9
wow!!
thx andy for ur thread..
thx eek for ur reply...
 
Old 10 October 2004   #10
Originally Posted by sumdumguy: eek thou art truly ov thee noblest ov geeks
Cheers man , that must've taken some time

w o w

hehe,

20 mins or so. Im currently looking into this aswell, trying to start up a studio and a get a new short film in the pipeline. Man, all the server setup. Directory stucture is a bit of a nightmare!

eek
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Old 01 January 2006   #11
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