D-Facto Motion GmbH is one of the largest and most well-known studios in European visual effects and post-production. With a presence across seven cities in Germany and a new facility in Vienna, Austria – D-Facto has successfully established a trusted name in the industry.
Annually creating thousands of visual effects shots, handling everything from TV movies and feature films to premium documentaries and sophisticated series, D-Facto is a testament to innovation. Employing both 2D and 3D technologies, they give each image a distinctive look.
Tobias Kreißl is the VFX Supervisor, and Tim Luecker is the Head of VFX. In this case study, they will offer a deeper look into how D-Facto operates with ftrack Studio.
D-Facto Motion’s Unique Challenges and Creative Process
In the heart of the German creative industry, D-Facto Motion finds itself at a unique intersection, dealing with high-quality fictional content ranging from feature films to series for broadcasters, streaming, and cinema. The German market, though robust, poses specific challenges, particularly in balancing high creative ambitions with budgetary constraints.
Reflecting on this tightrope walk, Tim Luecker described the process as “a balancing act that is not easy. The right communication with the customer and internally is an important key to success here.” The pressure of meeting creative desires within financial and time constraints has shaped D-Facto’s approach, making it not just a post-production house but a hub of creative innovation.
D-Facto’s response to this unique market scenario is insightful and nuanced. They believe in giving each image its distinctive look and setting every dimension in motion. It’s not merely about delivering visual effects but crafting visual poetry. Yet, the challenges remained, and the need for a technological partner was evident.
Integrating ftrack Studio and Automating Processes
The choice to integrate ftrack Studio was driven by a desire to overcome obstacles and streamline various processes. The challenges were real, and the stakes were high.
Here is a rundown of the changes that came with the integration of ftrack:
- Focus on communication: Enabling clear, efficient communication both in-house and with clients, fostering collaboration and understanding.
- Customization: The ability to tailor ftrack Studio to the unique needs of D-Facto’s pipeline, offering an adaptable solution for varied projects.
- Seamless extension via API: Facilitating integration and automation, creating a more streamlined workflow for complex processes.
- Exciting review functionality: Enhancing client relationships and inspiring team members and clients with tools that make feedback and revisions a dynamic part of the process.
- Automation and efficiency: The automation tools save valuable time and ensure quality control, from setting up shots to delivering them.
- Enhanced collaboration with clients: Using media review in ftrack to eliminate reliance on emails and instantly work on desired changes, improving the response time.
- Impact on productivity: Reducing the need for extensive supervision and monitoring, leading to more focused creativity and productivity.
- Financial balancing: Helping in the critical balancing act between creativity and budget constraints, particularly in a market like Germany where high-budget projects may be rarer.
“Of course, ftrack supports us in our pipeline to optimize the various processes while helping us mainly maintain communication in-house and with clients,” says Luecker, highlighting the core of their decision.
Automating the Nuke Pipeline
Particularly noteworthy in D-Facto’s embrace of ftrack Studio is the automation within its Nuke Pipeline. As a cutting-edge compositing tool, Nuke requires meticulous handling of assets and scripts. Scaling shots can lead to logistical nightmares, but D-Facto’s use of ftrack transcends traditional limitations.
“After receiving the VFX plates, we can run an action for selected shots which creates a folder structure, moves all plates, references, LUTs, etc., to this folder structure, and builds a Nuke script with all these assets. Because of this action, there is almost no difference between setting up 10 or 100 shots,” says Luecker. Read more about the ftrack x Nuke Integration.
Kreißl shares more, “We also built custom actions that make the process of delivering final VFX shots easier. We can run an action on selected shots in ftrack, these shots will then go through an automatic QC control that validates resolutions, file sizes, the number of frames that were rendered, if the latest version was rendered, and so on. When the check is complete all of these shots will then be copied from the VFX folder structure to a previously defined path.
We also created an action that can do an automated VFX edit of selected shots. These shots will then be re-inserted into the full movie based on their timecode that is stored in ftrack. This way we can quickly see how our shots look like in the edit and with sound without having to create a manual VFX edit.
The automation brings several benefits:
- Scalability: Whether working on a small project or a large-scale feature film, the integration ensures the task size doesn’t hinder efficiency or productivity.
- Quality control: Automated actions help maintain consistency and quality across the shots, ensuring nothing is missed or mishandled.
- Time savings: The tedious task of organizing, referencing, and scripting is reduced to a simple action, freeing up valuable artist time for creative endeavors.
- Flexibility: The ability to handle a diverse range of shots, references, and LUTs within a unified structure enhances the studio’s agility in responding to varied project demands.
- Client satisfaction: The speed and precision with which shots can be set up and delivered translate into a smoother client experience, reinforcing trust and satisfaction. Seeing all shots in context of the edit also helps the client to review the shots.
The integration of ftrack with Nuke is emblematic of D-Facto’s commitment to using technology in service of creativity. It’s about more than just doing things faster; it’s about enabling artists to do their best without being bogged down by the process.
The Power of Collaboration and Automation with ftrack
At D-Facto Motion, the integration of ftrack Studio has ushered in a new level of collaboration and automation that fosters trust and understanding with clients. “The review function with the Sync tool is fantastic and inspires our customers again and again.”, says Luecker.
Offering review tools that understand creative and client needs empowers stakeholders on both sides to share feedback and new ideas.”We completely rely on the ftrack media review when sending out VFX shots to the client. Because of that, we very rarely have to use email when discussing creative feedback for our shots,” — Tobias Kreißl, VFX Supervisor, D-Facto Motion GmbH
Media Review and Communication That’s Seamless and Efficient
In the bustling workflow of D-Facto Motion, communication is paramount. Their reliance on ftrack’s media review system showcases the importance of clear and instant feedback. Having feedback and communication around individual shots centralized in ftrack Studio prevents messages from being lost or overlooked because they were buried in an inbox or busy messaging channels.
It’s not just a technological shift but a cultural one. ftrack Studio has become a part of the language, rhythm, and way of working at D-Facto. Instead of a time-hungry, complicated client feedback process, it is now a well-oiled machine. “The option to transfer all client feedback from a review session to the respective ftrack tasks allows our artists to work on the desired changes instantly,” Kreißl added, reflecting on the seamless experience.
A Partnership for VFX Excellence
With ftrack Studio, D-Facto has found more than a tool; they’ve found an ally that understands their unique creative challenges and helps them to manage the many, many parts of their projects. Kreißl explains just how significant this is, “Without ftrack, our production and supervising department would probably have to be twice as large.” It’s a partnership that celebrates innovation, encourages collaboration, and uses technology as a bridge, not a barrier.