Joyce Cox

VFX producer Joyce Cox is debuting Curó, a new web-based platform for planning and managing visual-effects budgets, at SIGGRAPH 2018.

Curó uses budgeting methodologies that Cox refined on high-profile VFX films including The Jungle BookAvatar and Titanic, using a project’s script as the starting point. A user imports a screenplay from a PDF or text file, and Curó breaks it down by scenes, action beats, and lines of dialogue. Producers simply click on text in the screen to associate lines of the script with VFX shots, each of which has its own list of required assets and production elements.

Once all that data is in place, the work of estimating the VFX budget begins, based on the expected complexity of different shots and their required assets. Tax incentive forecasts and fringe costs are also incorporated.

Curó screenshot

Curó allows users to track VFX needs on a shot-by-shot line-by-line, element-by-element basis.

Once every shot and element has been accounted for, the data can be exported for submission to VFX houses, whose bids can be brought back into the system for cost comparisons. The system supports versioning, so new script revisions can be merged into the existing project as pre-production work progresses.

After the budget is locked, Curó can be used to track any changes during production and post that impact costs.

Curó tutorial video

Curó was originally developed as Vero, a collaborative project between Cox and Thinkbox Software that got waylaid by the 2017 purchase of Thinkbox by Amazon’s AWS cloud computing arm. Reborn as Curó, the project has been redeveloped by Cox with the support of UST Global.

In addition to keeping VFX producers organized, Cox says Curó can solve other problems facing the movie business, which she described as “a multibillion-dollar industry operating on insecure spreadsheets.” Curó will support the OneLogin access-management platform, meaning anyone who is serious about security can easily enable two-factor authentication, she notes.

“Right now, they manually type the screenplay into an Excel spreadsheet and create formulas to try and extract partial data,” she explains. “It’s time-consuming and unwieldy. I was doing things like The Jungle Book and Avatar that had 2,000 to 3,000 effects shots. In Excel, all that data gets too heavy — you can have problems with the math, and it can crash. This takes away all that manual manipulation and troubleshooting. It’s a huge time-saver.”

Pricing will be on a subscription basis, Cox says, with different licensing options for single users working on a single project, single users working on an unlimited number of projects, and unlimited users working on unlimited projects.

Curó screenshot

Curó tracks all the elements contributing to VFX cost estimates.

The system is tuned for exclusive use by VFX producers right now, with the ability to create and export reports in various formats, but Cox said future revisions could streamline the bidding process by allowing vendors to submit their bids directly into Curó rather than emailing documents. A separate module helping VFX facilities do their own internal calculations involving man-weeks per task and rendering capacity is another possibility.

Cox said Curó will be available in time for SIGGRAPH 2018, where demos will be available in Booth 1033. A 30-day free trial is also available.