Atomic Fiction Takes Flight

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Visual effects and animation studio Atomic was recently nominated for a Visual Effects Society (VES) Award for their work on the crash sequence in Robert Zemeckis’ aviation drama Flight, and it was Shotgun Software’s Shotgun production management tool that kept the project organized.  

An agile, mid-size studio, Atomic Fiction strives to equip its artists with the best technology tools and Shotgun has been an integral part of that toolset since the studio launched in 2010.

“For our pipeline, we took the best of what we knew and then customized the implementation of those tools,” said Kevin Baillie, Atomic Fiction Co-Founder and VFX Supervisor. “Shotgun is simply the best off-the-shelf production management solution available. It’s Web-based and we use the cloud quite heavily, and it made sense to use from a recruiting standpoint as nearly everyone is familiar with the system.”

From the outset, Atomic Fiction has relied heavily on cloud computing and Shotgun’s SaaS model plays nicely into that.  Taking advantage of cloud computing for rendering, Atomic Fiction is able to expand quickly on demand while avoiding the costs of constructing and maintaining a large data center. Leveraging the cost efficiencies of rendering in the cloud along with the workflow efficiencies of Shotgun, a modest team of 35 was able to create 400 stunning VFX shots as the sole vendor for Flight.

“For Flight, the client relied on us to provide simplified reports that gave a snapshot of our status each week,” Baillie explained. “Shotgun enables us to export whatever info we need - such as shot name, description, length, status, etc. – either as a Shotgun report, or into a clean Excel spread sheet. It makes our lives a lot easier and eliminates room for interpretation or confusion.” 

In addition to handling all the VFX work for Flight, recent projects from Atomic Fiction include creating digital facial replacements for  Underworld: Awakening, digital facial prosthetics for “Boardwalk Empire,” sci-fi CG backgrounds for  Looper and video game cinematics. Currently, the studio is wrapping up VFX work for a highly anticipated blockbuster with a slated summer release.  

“With Shotgun, our productions are never out of sync with reality and there is one place for all the shared info,” Baillie said. “We can even populate our other pipeline tools using Shotgun’s API and pull data for artists working on shots. You can really tell there was a lot of thought put into the way Shotgun functions and anyone who produces content can benefit from that without having to invest hours and hours of proprietary R&D—which is what would have been required to have this level of built-in production management without access to Shotgun.” 

“Atomic Fiction is really pioneering use of the cloud to make the entire VFX business model more sustainable, and we’re proud their use of Shotgun helps contribute to their success,” noted Don Parker, CEO of Shotgun. 

Other tools used in addition to Shotgun include Autodesk Maya for modeling and animation, Autodesk 3ds Max and Luxology’s Modo for modeling, Chaos Group’s V-Ray for rendering, The Foundry’s Nuke for compositing and Tweak’s RV Software for playback.



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