Our Story

Jul 17, 2010



We're on a Mission

Our mission is to put a stop to the suffering of creative professionals that are restricted by the massive amount of information and complexity the "digital age" brings to their work life, which can lead to mistakes, inefficiencies, and unpleasant "surprises" that affect the quality of the work and work lifestyle.

We are working to build software that clears away the chaos, presents important information in visual ways, connects people to each other, and helps these good folks use their brains and their talent to bring the world inspiring work.

Our Story

We are industry folk who love production. A handful of us met while building pipeline tools for an animated feature film for Disney called The Wild. When the show was completed, we decided to start over, focusing specifically on what people call "production tracking". Although this is only one piece of the pipeline pie, we believe this piece deserves to be done right because it supports and enables the studio's biggest investment: People.

But our take on production tracking is different than most. We believe that for a system to really work in such a dynamic environment, it has to be used, and relied upon, by everyone in the studio. And because everyone relies on the system to do their work and communicate with each other every day, the information stays up to date. It is updated by many, not a few. It's a collaboration tool, not just a tracking tool.

Adoption through seduction

For our theory to work, our software would have to be adopted by everyone in the studio. And the only way to pull that off is to make sure that it makes everyone's job easier so they want to use it. Otherwise, they'll work around it. Accomplishing this requires a close partnership with the artists, engineers, supervisors, and production staff using the system to do real work every day, tight feedback loops for quick iteration, and an obsession for usability and design.

Building from within the industry

So we set off to find studios that were interested in helping us build the right thing. That was more than seven years ago. Now, we have thousands of people from the visual effects, feature animation, and video game industries using our software every day in production - all telling us how to make it better. We're listening closely, soaking it up, working as hard as we can, and moving forward.

Drinking our own wine

We use Shotgun ourselves every day to manage our own development process and to ensure we're building something that solves real problems and is a pleasure to use. Our team is distributed all over the world, including LA, SF, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Chicago, Toronto, New York, Montreal, London, and Sydney. Shotgun helps us stay in sync and move quickly.

Ah, it's called "agile development"

We've always worked in quick iterations, with constant feedback, and continual course corrections based on the new info learned each day. It felt right and the results were great. But it was our first client, Rising Sun Pictures, that pointed us to a software development philosophy called "Agile Development" and a process called "Scrum". That's us! We knew there had to be a name for how we worked, and it is still how we work today. We develop in two week "sprints", and release to our clients every four sprints (8 weeks). We continually evaluate our roadmap and discuss priorities with our clients, making decisions on what to build as we start each release cycle. We may not know exactly where we will end up, but we believe our process and the input from our clients will help us continue to innovate and provide value.

Front of the house

We know solid support is important to our clients, especially for a system like this, so we have dedicated half our team to focus externally on our clients. We call that team the "Front of the House" following a restaurant metaphor for the service staff (And you guessed it, the development team is the 'back of the house". Can you tell we're a bunch of foodies?). Our front of the house team works with our clients every day, bending over backwards to solve problems and engaging in discussions about what we should build next. We have been busy putting tools in place that help us scale this quality of support, which includes our integrated ticketing system, forum, and documentation site.

Focus on value first, then on sales

We spent 3.5 years working in "stealth mode" before our private beta launch, keeping a low profile while collaborating closely with a cross section of studios. Why so long? Because we wanted to focus all our energy on building something that has real value before turning on the sales engines.
It has been a wild ride too, with many ups and downs as we tested out countless design and implementation ideas, stress tested the system in multiple production environments, created the hosted infrastructure, and built up our own team, processes, and tools to support growth.

We now have more than 400 clients around the world and have expanded our focus to review and asset management tools. We still feel like the fun is only just beginning. We love this industry, and we're loving solving these problems for you.

There's a lot more to go. We hope you will join us.