Shotgun Street Smarts: Scheduling Tips and Tricks

Sep 22, 2016



A few weeks ago, Tram talked about getting started in Shotgun, including setting up your workflows. Today, I want to give a shout out to all those hard-working coordinators and managers out there who are in charge of the schedule, and suggest some helpful tips.

Scheduling a Project usually involves juggling multiple people and numerous departments across various Projects. That’s a lot to handle! So how can Shotgun help you achieve transparency across your schedule and allow you to manage your teams simply and effectively? Enter the Tasks and Gantt view!

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When I worked in production, I lived on Shotgun. Even more so, I lived on Task Views and Pages as they gave me clarity over what my teams were working on and what still needed to be completed. It also allowed me to see the Project as a cohesive and collaborate whole—how my teams affected downstream departments as well as how my teams influenced upstream departments.

Creating and assigning Tasks
Tasks are the smallest component of work that need to be completed against an Entity (something you track) in Shotgun. You can create Tasks in numerous ways which we talk about over on our Support site. Once you have your Tasks created, it’s time to get scheduling!

One of the most commonly used scheduling tricks is to create an “Unassigned” saved filter. This filter allows you to easily see what Tasks you’ve yet to assign out with a single click. To create an unassigned saved filter, head on over to a Tasks View/Page, click on [+ New Saved Filter], and set the conditions as below:

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Once you’ve assigned all your Tasks, you might want to view whether you’ve balanced your assignments equally across your artists. The easiest way to do this is from—you guessed it!—the Tasks view. Simply Group your Tasks by Assigned To to display how many Tasks you assigned to each artist and from there you can decide whether they can complete this amount of work in time.

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Filtering Tasks
Another handy feature of the Tasks View is the ability to narrow down by department using the Filter Panel and the Pipeline Steps filters. If you’re working at a large studio, Pipeline Steps are usually closely related to departments and you may want to create a saved filter with just the department relevant to your teams. That way you can toggle between all Tasks and how they influence each other, and Tasks just relevant to you.

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As production ramps up, it will be important to narrow down to specific Tasks to see how your teams are tracking. This is when the Filter Panel comes into play. Here you can filter to display Tasks that are a specific status, or click next to the Field condition name to toggle on the *is not* filter. The *is not* filter will allow you to display Tasks that are not a specific status, such as final/complete, without having to manually check on all the other filter conditions.

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A pro tip when using the Filter Panel is to hold down the Command/Windows key, which allows you to multi-select filter conditions without the page updating until you release the Command/Windows key.

Generating reports
A Project’s production is rarely a solo effort, and as a coordinator or manager, you’ll often be asked to present a report on how your teams are tracking. A report in Shotgun is a page with applied filters, color formatting, and field layouts. Let’s say you want to create an Anim Department report for any Tasks due this week. You would create the saved filter as below:

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Because you used the dynamic filter token of “current week”, you won’t need to manually recreate this report each week as it will dynamically update as the data changes—another benefit to using Shotgun and its live data!

Color formatting
You might also want to highlight Tasks that are overdue in a report. To do this, you can create a new formatting rule for Tasks that were due before the current date (again using the dynamic token so you don’t need to manually update this report) where the status *is not* complete/final.

Step 1:

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Step 2:
Select either a New Page rule or Global Rule.

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Step 3:

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Once you’re happy with the report, you can click on the Page Icon > Save Page As and name the new Page “Weekly Anim Department report”. You can then access this page whenever you need to, without having to recreate the page or reset filters due to the dynamic tokens.

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That’s it for this week! If you have any scheduling tips and tricks, please let us know in the comments.

About Astrid:
Astrid is the Shotgun APAC Program Manager who brings a wealth of experience from having worked both as a VFX artist and on the Production side. She’s based in Melbourne, Australia. She has two cats—one of which is perpetually climbing on her keyboard to try and answer her tickets. If you receive any strange replies, apologies—​it was the cat!