Framestore

"Creating visual effects means we need access to a massive amount of information no matter where our team is. FileMaker has made a huge difference to our business and allowed us to manage the hundreds of people involved in individual projects and the sheer volume of data they produce." - Alex Jackson, Software Developer, Framestore

Framestore develops Academy Award winning visual effects with the help of FileMaker

FileMaker Platform enables the Framestore team to rapidly support new projects

Overview

  • FileMaker Platform enables the Framestore team to rapidly support new projects

Industry

  • Creative Services Entertainment

Solutions

  • FileMaker used to rapidly develop databases to support projects involving hundreds of people

Benefits

  • Flexibility, rapid development and gentle learning curve

Framestore was formed more than 20 years ago by Sharon Reed, William Sargent and three friends, and creates visual and moving images for all platforms. It first moved into the film industry in the early 90s and now counts some of the world's highest grossing movies among its accomplishments, including Bond films GoldenEye and Skyfall, several of the Harry Potter films, The Dark Knight, the ground-breaking Avatar, Lincoln and the Oscar winner, The Golden Compass.

Framestore has grown into a team of more than 600 artists, computer scientists, producers, animators, visualisers, developers and engineers that work in partnership with its clients to create amazing images.

FileMaker has the gentlest learning curve we have ever come across. We are able to develop in it and use within five minutes.

— Alex Jackson, Software Developer, Framestore
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The sheer number of people involved in projects and the sequences and data produced is immense.

The challenge:

The Framestore ambition has always been to be at the cutting edge and top end of the genres that it works in, whether this is commercials, music videos, title sequences, digital or film.

Given the complexity of the projects that Framestore works on and the number of stakeholders involved, keeping track of all the variables is a tough job. As a result, not only is technology at the heart of the visual effects it creates, but its business operations too.

Although many realise that getting a film to the big screen requires a lot of people, it is difficult to comprehend the scale of an operation like Avatar, in which visual effects are core to the movie. Film companies will often have two, or even three, large companies with up to 500 people working on a title, along with three or four smaller companies.

The sheer number of people involved in projects and the sequences and data produced is immense. Framestore has to capture everything from camera details to creative effects in a secure, shareable way with a structured approach to managing it.

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A controlled and structured approach is vital in the visual effects industry.

The FileMaker solution:

This control and structured approach is vital in the visual effects industry. Given the secrecy surrounding films in the lead up to a premiere and the potential for leaks to go global almost instantaneously on the Internet, having a system that is secure is crucial to all those involved.

"FileMaker was the obvious choice to form the backbone of these processes for Framestore. The rapid development platform allows us to get new projects up and running quickly and make direct changes, even when people are using one of the databases. The fact that many film and TV production companies use FileMaker means data shared with and from clients is often in this format, making projects seamless. The flexibility provided by FileMaker is also vital for us to effectively manage constantly evolving projects and allows hundreds of people from inside and outside our business access to the data," said Jackson.

Framestore develops its databases in FileMaker to include all manners of production information, right down to specific camera details on individual shots. Everything from make to colour space to lens height must be captured and available to the entire project team when needed. FileMaker is incredibly flexible meaning it is used across a variety of mobile devices and desktops by the team at Framestore, whether they are on location or in an office.

Notable benefits:

  • FileMaker is incredibly user friendly allowing for easy but secure access to all details. It can be developed to be as sophisticated as a specific individual user needs.

  • The production co-ordinator can view sequences on the go and make the necessary changes on set. For example, a dragon's foot may be too wide once the actor's sequence is shot - this information can be fed back to the artist, who can adapt the effect, allowing for any re-shoots to be done almost immediately.

  • A great example of Framestore in action is forthcoming film 'Gravity'. Technology plays an important role in not only creating the characters and sets alongside the actors but also in helping the actors interact with the effects. The visual effects that are created prior to a shoot can then be used on set to give guidance to actors in order to ensure the most realistic environment is delivered.

  • The use of FileMaker allows for this information to be shared securely and in a standard format among all those involved in the production of the film, whether they are on set or in the studio creating the effects. In addition, with the use of FileMaker Go the teams are able to access all information required on the move on their iPads. The key to Framestore's success is a desire to foster and drive innovation both internally and widely throughout the industry by finding technologies that fit well with this approach. FileMaker fits perfectly with this innovation culture by giving access to all the information created on a project to all stakeholders and in turn allowing them to share ideas.
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