The show floor at SIGGRAPH is dominated by flashy VFX software and powerful graphics hardware, but sometimes it’s the little things that matter. Like playback. Tweak Software was there to show the latest beta version of its RV image and sequence viewer, which hides powerful capabilities behind an elegant, almost minimalist interface that gets out of your way when you really just want to go over your footage and make it the best it can be. New features in this version include the “session manager,” an iTunes-inspired interface that works like a playlist. It allows users to manipulate layouts, stacks and sequences with drag-and-drop ease as they play footage back. Individual sources can be retimed, and you can mix sources with different frame rates with no worries because RV offers real-time pull-up and pull-down to match them up. (Of course, you can turn that feature off if you want to, simply running all the footage at your chosen frame rate.) It runs on 64-bit Windows, Mac and Linux installations.
Tweak was highlighting integration with booth partners Shotgun and PipelineFX. Shotgun is a web-based production-tracking system for VFX and animation that officially came out of beta at SIGGRAPH. For instance, metadata that you specify in Shotgun will be available in the pop-up info pane built into RV. The private beta for Shotgun has been going on for more than a year, with high-profile clients including Zoic Studios, who used the software to finish more than 100 shots per week for ABC’s V. Shotgun takes easily to customization. For example, Zoic wrote custom tools for Maya and Nuke that allowed scenes to be built and keys to be pulled and touched up more quickly. Shotgun also tracks the usage of pipeline scripts via unique API keys, allowing facilities to get a picture of how different aspects of their workflow are all coming together across different departments and/or projects. Shotgun can be hosted on your own servers; the company also offers hosting services.
Both products play well with PipelineFX’s Qube! render-farm management software. Qube! 6.0 uses what the company calls “smart farming,” offering statistical information about the use of customers’ rendering pipelines to help automate routine tasks. PipelineFX says the new functionality offers the kind of efficiency that very large visual-effects studios have been building into their own systems. The cooperation between all three companies is meant to integrate these render-management techniques with production management and playback. The company lists supported applications in a PDF on its website.
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