Sunday, 5 April 2020

Michael Davies Teaches on Discord & Shotgun

Michael Davies
Like all our animation tutors at Escape Studios, Michael Davies is now teaching his classes purely online.

Using Discord and Shotgun for remote interaction with his students at Escape Studios, Michael continues to manage the ambitious third year Studio Project currently being completed by the third year animation students.

In this blog post, Michael explains what tools he is using to make the move online, and how his students can get the best out of the new working environment. 

"Discord offers another useful option for our tutors at Escape Studios. For those who are switching to online delivery of our courses, Discord is easy to install and completely free to use, for both Windows and Mac devices.

Discord is a proprietary freeware application and digital distribution platform designed for video gaming communities, that specializes in text, image, video and audio communication between users in a chat channel. These tools are proving to be very useful when interacting with our students and also in managing our projects.

Discord allows for the creation of 'Servers', which can be used and an overarching group for a project. Then within a server, subgroups can be created for different teams and tasks in the project. These can be classified as text-chat only or video/voice calls. Each option allows for the users to share their screens which have proven to be very useful in demonstrating tasks, sharing content and most importantly debugging an issue. A current example of this is how our current 3rd Animation students are using this for their Unreal Engine Animation Project.

Shotgun is software that simplifies creative project management and unifies visual effects (VFX), animation and games teams of all sizes. Shotgun allows for asset/shot pipeline management and allows for the distribution of tasks amongst a team or studio.

Shotgun allows for work on multiple projects simultaneously and is essential in many of the biggest and best studios in the world, including Weta Digital, Framestore, Epic Games and many more. Brian Brecht, an Art Manager at Epic Games explains: "There is no way we could handle the overall volume we produce without the production tracking tools that Shotgun brings to the table."

We use Shotgun to track the progress of the creation of our asset and shot creation, allowing for our student Producers to follow the progress of production very easily and assign tasks to artists and set deadlines.

The Shotgun Desktop App allows for integration with the tools and programs that we use, such as Maya, Houdini, Nuke, Mari and many more. This makes asset management and version/file management very simple. With a system of saving version and then 'Publishing' content, this makes sharing files across a project very simple and allows for easy fixes and updates to files in the pipeline.

A feature we utilising a lot in our remote work currently is the Media feature which allows for content to reviewed and commented on. This is the perfect host of our Dailies feedback sessions where we review the progress of work so far and make plans for the tasks ahead. We then take these notes and discuss them back in Discord where we can further plan and discuss what our next steps are."

The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To find out more about our new BA/MArt, now recruiting for September 2020, follow this link.   To apply, visit the official page here.

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