In April 2022, ftrack Review received a significant update, featuring a new UI and new workflows.

One of the first companies to run a project through ftrack Review’s latest update was Cluster, a visual effects boutique and virtual production studio running out of Montreal, Canada. Cluster’s projects are varied, with recent work on projects such as A24’s X and the critically acclaimed Quebec Series: Classé Secret.

ftrack technology has played an essential role in the Cluster story since its inception in 2015 by founder Marc Morissette. However, the most recent update of ftrack Review, with its new interface, optimized workflows, and faster under-the-hood implementation, has taken things a step further. As Marc’s brother and Cluster’s VFX Producer, Tom Morissette, explains, Cluster can now run even more effective reviews with its clients, ensuring all feedback is tracked, tagged, and fed into its ongoing production plan.

Tom Morissette

VFX Producer

Company Cluster
Location Montreal

Setting up a studio

“Marc setup Cluster after 20 years in the industry, as he was tired of the constraints imposed by mainstream visual effects studios,” says Tom. “Marc wanted to do things his own way by using the latest available technologies, promoting better internal processes, keeping overhead to a minimum, and choosing like-minded people to join the team.” (Read more about Marc’s philosophies around launching a VFX studio.)

When browser-based review functionality became available as a standalone ftrack offering in 2019, Cluster quickly adopted the platform into its workflow. “We started using ftrack Review as soon as it became available,” says Tom. The team immediately dived into ftrack Review’s collaborative tools, which enabled the team to discuss, comment on, and annotate over media in interactive sync with clients, all via a browser window.

“We needed a solution that didn’t force us to send countless packages to our clients for review and would help us improve the efficiency of approvals with our clients. ftrack Review was that solution. We need only send the final output format once the shots are approved.”

Cluster recently delivered work on the popular Québec television series Classé Secret and Ti West’s horror for A24, X.

Running efficient reviews

Cluster’s project for the local Québec television series Classé Secret involved 120 visual effects over two months. Considering the short deadline and amount of work involved, a seamless approach to collaboration was critical.

“ftrack Review helped us speed up the approval process,” says Tom. “The review interface is clear, simple, and easy to use. Clients can use annotation tools to give form to their feedback, and per-frame feedback clarifies what needs changing and why.

“The main benefit for us at Cluster was concentrating all shot review information on the project in one place,” Tom continues. “We’ve worked with many clients over the years, each of whom has their own way of doing things or ways they prefer to collaborate. However, by running everything through ftrack Review, we cut down on a huge number of possible email exchanges, reduced complications, and centralized all discussions in one place. Doing so helped us increase our shot output capacity on the project and deliver better work.”

Service-wise, ftrack Review's recent update makes our small studio just as competitive as the big ones out there.

Tom MorissetteVFX Producer

Making reviews better

ftrack Review’s April 2022 update took things one step further for Cluster. The update introduced many new features, including a newly redesigned interface, a new feedback bar, and under-the-hood optimizations allowing for faster and more responsive reviews.

“We love the new update and our clients even more so,” says Tom. “The improvements to the user interface are greatly appreciated, both internally and especially by Cluster’s customers. The update simplifies the approval process in ftrack Review and makes exchanging notes and annotations a breeze. It’s also extremely convenient when running live client sessions or internal dailies.

“Service-wise, the whole update makes our small studio just as competitive as the big ones out there!”

#1 fans

Today, half of Cluster’s team works remotely, with the other half working in the studio. As such, ftrack Review has become a critical component of the Cluster workflow as they collaborate with external clients and run internal dailies.

“If we did not have ftrack, it would be impossible for me to efficiently manage four-five simultaneous projects without a VFX coordinator on our team. I’ve never missed a client note, thanks to ftrack Review. And for that, we’re truly ftrack’s #1 fans!”

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