This article provides an in-depth overview of how to run a project from the first stages to final delivery in ftrack. After reading this article, you should have a solid idea of each step required to bring a project to completion using the tools available in ftrack.
Please note that this isn’t a tutorial, but rather an overview of what can be achieved with a properly configured ftrack and a glimpse at what a project lifecycle looks like. We’ll go into more detail on the various elements in later entries in this series.
Create a project
First, you must create the project. You can do this early on when the project is in its early planning stages.
To create a new project, head to the Projects menu and select “Create project”. Name your project, set the Start and End dates on which you expect to commence and deliver the project, and select a “Workflow” schema.
A workflow schema defines the project type that you are working on, such as “Animation”, “Visual Effects”, "Product visualization", or “Motion Graphics”, the approval steps of the project, and the types of work/creative disciplines necessary in executing the work. The workflow schema’s structure in ftrack depends on the industry in which you work and how you prefer to operate as a company.
Advanced tip: ftrack comes with a pre-configured set of schemas out of the box, but it is also possible to build your own.
Plan the project
Every creative project needs a clear and thought-out schedule. So, now that we have created a project let’s plan for it.
What are the critical milestones for your project, and what are the best time frames in which to tackle them?
You can add a rough plan for the project and estimate the time needed for each step using ftrack’s simple click-and-drag planning tools:
In the below example, we have allocated our team’s time on the project, ensuring that there is enough resource to tackle all required tasks.
Below, you can see the team's schedule with the new project included:
Advanced tip: With ftrack’s forecast report, you can see the capacity of any department, and make sure there are enough staff available to tackle upcoming projects.
Structure the project
You've planned the project, and the client has greenlit it – brilliant! It's now time to break the project up into tasks and milestones and add deliverables and descriptions to guide the creative team to success.
How you structure a project depends on the specific creative needs of that project. You want to structure it so that it is easy to gain an overview of the work, assign tasks, and access progress reports about the work.
You can track your bid estimates vs. actuals in ftrack to ensure that you deliver within time and budget.
You can import your project structure from an Excel spreadsheet or create it directly inside of ftrack.
Here’s an example of how a project can be structured:
Optionally, you can also schedule tasks for the project using the Gantt tool, use milestones, or work with priorities to decide the order in which your team should complete the tasks.
You’ve now created, planned, and structured your project. Now it’s time to tell your creative team what to do by assigning tasks to them.
Let’s look for tasks that we have scheduled to start this week, and assign them to a creative.
There are other ways to find tasks that are ready to start, too. We look into this further in the following articles:
Start the creative process
We’ve made a plan, structured it, and assigned tasks. Everyone knows what they need to do: now, the creative process can begin!
Artists can find the tasks assigned to them using the “My Tasks” page:
Using the time tools at the top-right of the page, artists can start a timer to log time on their selected task. (This is optional, but essential if you wish to track estimate vs. actuals).
Artists can also launch integrated applications from the My Tasks page. (Both ftrack’s built-in integrations and those customized by your company.)
When using an integrated application, you can “publish” a digital asset directly to ftrack for consistent tracking: the files are named, saved, and versioned in a manner consistent with the rest of your project.
If you do not want to use a built-in ftrack integration, or if you can’t find an integration for an application that you would like to use, you can use ftrack’s Connect publisher. An alternative method is to upload assets for review directly via the ftrack web UI.
“Published” asset versions in ftrack are available to your collaborators and co-workers, who may wish to pick up those assets for another task. You can also choose to “review” that published asset if you would like others to assess it.
ftrack supports both internal reviews within your company and external review sessions with a client.
Reviewing an asset may lead to feedback on the asset, and a request for changes from your collaborators.
Feedback will be visible to creatives as notes on the task/assets in ftrack. This feedback may require another iteration on the asset or a request for approval, before the asset can be prepared for delivery or moved down the pipeline for another creative to perform the next necessary task.
Check on progress and statuses
Your project is now running smoothly, assets are running through the creative process, and people are reviewing the work.
Now that the project is ongoing, it is important to understand the progress of the project. I.e., what is left to do to ensure you will deliver on time?
You can use the “Tasks Spreadsheet” to see the progress of the project:
If you asked your team to log time against tasks, then you can check these actual worked hours against the time you estimated at the project start. This can help to identify problems in your project and reduce the risk of delays, and help you to make more accurate bids on future projects.
You can also use dashboards and insights to gain further understanding of project progress, both as a whole and with regards to specific areas.
You can track delivery milestones in ftrack, whether you have just one for your final delivery or if you break it down into several parts for the project.
Delivery milestones are visualized in the project schedule and appear at your creative's landing page, so they know what is expected from them and the time frames in which to achieve it.
Follow-up & analysis
Once your project is done, delivered, and dusted, you can analyze how it all went. It is especially beneficial to use the time logs to see how much time you spent on different parts of a project.
Perhaps there is something you can improve when estimating the time it takes to complete the next project? Or are there some inefficiencies that can be fleshed out? It can be advantageous to look at and analyze your projects in this way, and use your findings to optimize approach when you start the process again for your next project!
And that’s it! You now have a good, surface-level overview of how to run a project in ftrack. Great stuff.
Next, we’ll take a look at some of the goals you might want to achieve when using ftrack in this way. 🎯