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The VFX and animation market in South Africa is about to explode–and Chocolate Tribe has already put the right tools, and team, in place to lead the way.

Chocolate Tribe is an award-winning high-end visual effects and animation studio in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa. Its core work is in feature films, television series and advertising. The team’s creative, technical and in-depth industry knowledge culminates in over 25 years of international experience.

Currently, Chocolate Tribe is focused on production pipeline and in-house tool development to streamline everything from its smallest to the biggest projects, so that it can consistently deliver international quality standards to clients like Netflix, Amazon Studios, BBC, and Disney, to name a few.

Tiaan Franken is the chief technical officer with Chocolate Tribe. We spoke with them to better understand how ftrack has helped the studio on its journey to streamline workflows and increase overall efficiency on all productions.

Tiaan Franken

Chief Technical Officer, Chocolate Tribe

Incubating Local Talent in an Up-and-Coming Market

“The animation and VFX market is smaller in South Africa, but it is on the rise,” says Tiaan. “Especially with international streamers coming to Africa, such as Netflix and Amazon, for example, it is having a major impact on our local market, and is encouraging substantial growth across the sector.” 

With the market set to expand, Chocolate Tribe has turned its focus on skills development. “We are now able to grow and incubate our own local talent and skills,” says Tiaan. “Which has now become sustainable because of the productions coming into our country. The fact that we are able to integrate and plug in into international studios, using ftrack as the bridge for that helps us do that seamlessly.”

Finding a Flexible and Scalable Production Partner

“We started using ftrack in 2021 as the production demands required a bigger team and the scale of those productions increased dramatically,” says Tiaan. Chocolate Tribe identified a need for asset and task tracking as it was rapidly growing as a studio. After researching several solutions and comparing services, they found other platforms were not as user-friendly or as interactive as ftrack. “What we have found is that ftrack is scalable and flexible for our growing studio’s needs.” Says Tiaan.

Saving Time with Seamless Collaboration and API Integration

The VFX production team at Chocolate Tribe has found that ftrack enables easy feedback between director and client, or internal reviews, and even easier communication between the studio and team. It also provides a central point of reference for shots, animation progress, asset progress and information.

“It is more productive in the time spent on reviews and gathering data for reviews.” Says Tiaan. Having everything in one place has saved the production team time spent on building reviews for clients. The platform helps assess progression on asset builds and shots which can give an overview of where problems would be in the pipeline, allowing teams to strategize their approach to those issues. 

“At a glance, you can see if the production is in trouble and ftrack gives you insight on how to improve for the next production,” says Tiaan.

Another way ftrack saves Chocolate Tribe time is through API integrations.

I like ftrack because of the fact their API can integrate very well in other packages, especially in our pipeline. We are able to seamlessly integrate ftrack’s API into our pipeline and it is a massive time saver. You can simplify the tasks at hand for the end user, so it takes out the guesswork for artists or end users, this means they can directly work with the task at hand.

Tiaan, Chief Technical Officer at Chocolate Tribe

In Their Own Words: Favorite ftrack Features of the Team

“What I enjoy about ftrack the most is the ability to monitor artists’ progress and give feedback to artists and the studio in real-time. ftrack allows for an easy pipeline and great communication in the studio.” -Katlego, VFX Production Assistant

“The ftrack user interface is great. ftrack makes it easy to work with the assigned shots and manage that process easier. If shots need to be updated it will easily populate which shots need updating.” -Alistair, Compositor

“The features of ftrack that I find most useful are the ability to overlook several projects at the same time using the “project overview tab”.  I enjoy the fact that you can assign roles to artists and manage their processes throughout the production pipeline.” – Simphiwe, VFX Producer

“ftrack is so simple to filter my tasks and it’s nice to compare the different versions of your projects from what you started with and to where you are.” -Sam, 3D Artist

“ftrack is very user friendly for artists” -Thezi, 3D Artist

“ftrack provides a live update of all the latest shots being published, which allows me to immediately see who is doing what and where I need to focus most of my attention next. When productions grow more and more demanding, it’s vital to have a central hub where all the information is stored. It avoids so much confusion and gives the producers, leads, and artists confidence that they know what needs to be done. The Review tools are also great to use. Leaving notes for clients, or simply doing internal reviews works well with ftrack. Furthermore, it’s important to be organized, so combining ftrack’s out-of-the-box toolset with in-house customisation tools using Python, makes ftrack even more powerful in our pipeline.” – Rob, Chief Creative Officer / VFX Supervisor.

Chocolate Tribe x ftrack Ensures the Studio’s Sustainable Growth

As the VFX and animation market picks up in South Africa, Chocolate Tribe will undoubtedly continue to grow. Given their commitment to attracting and developing local talent in their industry, Chocolate Tribe is set for long-term success, and ftrack Studio will be there to help them scale, collaborate and improve production efficiencies every step of the way.

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