90 Days at Rodeo FX: A Toolkit Story

Nov 1, 2016



My name is Jean-François Boismenu and I have been working on Shotgun Toolkit for a little over two years. However, I recently moved out of my comfy basement at home working on Toolkit and into a studio environment as an intern at Rodeo FX. See, while the rest of the Toolkit team are production veterans, I've been working at Autodesk for almost 13 years now and have never worked in a studio. Fortunately for me, the team at Rodeo FX gave me the opportunity to join their development team as a Senior Software Pipeline Developer Intern for a few months. I get to learn what it's like working in close collaboration with artists and developers on an actual production and they get a Toolkit specialist in-house.



Now that I'm halfway through my time at Rodeo FX, we felt it would be a great opportunity to share glimpses of what I am learning – how Shotgun and Toolkit are used and how they perform at Rodeo FX. Even with many production veterans on the Toolkit team, our clients keep reminding us of their ingenuity, the scale they work at, and their knack for pushing the limits of our platform, inspiring us to constantly up our game.

The first big lesson I've learned while being at Rodeo FX is that it’s becoming harder to predict how fast clients will need to scale as production demands continue to grow. I was amazed to learn that some projects at Rodeo FX can contain upwards of 10,000 tasks, and on one project an asset had close to 10,000 individually versioned publishes! Shotgun was designed to scale, but in production there often seems to be one asset or shot that can push the limit of what the pipeline can handle. Seeing the scale of work at Rodeo FX is a good reminder of how we need to keep optimizing our platform to help our clients meet these challenges in their productions every day.


Rodeo FX has won 3 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Visual Effects on HBO's Game of Thrones.


The second big lesson I've learned is that sometimes less is more. Take the loader for example. It provides a way to configure a list of tabs with customizable entity types and filters, and you can see any publishes in your project and their entire history. While this tool is incredibly powerful and useful when you want to see a full view of a project, if, for example, you are going to do some roto work and the only thing you are interested in is the camera you’re supposed to be using to complete your work, the app may present you with more information than you need.


 Rodeo FX completed nearly 200 VFX shots for The Legend of Tarzan, including action sequences with CG hippos

The folks at Rodeo FX have written their own loader for compositing artists. It’s a simple toolbar button that gives access to the latest publishes, each grouped in a sub menu named after the pipeline step. Each publish even has a status icon. The artist gets quick access to the required files, grouped in a clean way and ordered from newest to oldest, which I think is really cool.

I look forward to this continued partnership, even though Rodeo FX has a stricter dress code than my home basement.

If you've had similar experiences with Toolkit applications, don't hesitate to share them with us in the comments and/or reach us at support@shotgunsoftware.com.

About JF
JF joined Autodesk straight out of university and has had the chance to work on multiple projects over the past 13 years, but never had the chance to work in a studio environment and experience what production is like. To remediate this, we approached Rodeo FX a couple of months ago and pitched the idea of him interning at their company so he could learn more about how artists work and how a pipeline is run first hand. In return, Rodeo FX has an extra pair of hands to work on their pipeline.

About Rodeo FX
Founded in 2006, Rodeo FX has grown to 350 artists and visual effects professionals with studios in Montréal, Los Angeles and Québec City. The company has created award-winning visual effects for close to 80 feature films, including Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Tim Burton), The Legend of Tarzan, The Walk (Oscar nominee), Birdman (Oscar winner), Incendies, Enemy and Arrival, by Denis Villeneuve. The studio also won VES awards for its visual effects in Game of Thrones (2015) and Birdman (2015), as well as three Emmys for its work on Game of Thrones (2014, 2015, 2016). Rodeo FX’s advertising division is the creator of, among others, an ad for Nike (2016) and the opening sequence for NBC’s 2015 NFL Super Bowl. For more information, visit rodeofx.com.