Shotgun’s feisty new business model (you’re going to like it!)

In an audacious move, Shotgun is now priced at $49.00 USD per seat, per month…but even more interestingly, it is expanded to be not just the Shotgun production management software that was up to 2 or 3 times that price at $89 or $149. That one price also includes what had previously been the separate products of Revolver and Tank.

We spoke to Shotgun’s CEO, Don Parker who lead a customer discussion and survey that resulted in the new pricing and packaging solution. The previous model of pricing was a tiered model based on the number of users and features, which lead to a complex matrix of pricing. Now all pricing is simply $49 per seat per month and for all three products. For customers who had previously been on the introductory small facility /5 people price of $19per will be grandfathered into the new arrangement so they won’t be forced to upgrade to the new full $49per/3 product deal. There will also be a premium support deal offered to major studios wanting comprehensive enterprise support.

The move is assertive as the new products are non-trivial additions to the line up. The asset management Tank program had been seen by many as a just as significant product as the core Shotgun tool. Tank was literally started over three times in R&D to get the core model right. It certainly was expected to be as major a product as the collaborative tool Revolver – each expected to expand greatly the scope of the Shotgun team’s influence in major facilities. Shotgun itself is now entrenched at some 400 studios and the client list is an impressive read from DNeg, Framestore, Pixomondo in features, to games companies like EA, and PlayStation to the extremely complex world of VFX episodic scheduling at companies like Zoic Studios, and of course many more.

Shotgun have moved in recent times to not just providing scheduling but integrating much more with the actual apps to help launch and pre-load shots based on tasks and connect all the departments of a serious studio together. Asset management in the form of Tank is a huge extension to this, and one that Shotgun Software have invested a huge amount of R&D in solving. And rightly so, the problem of good asset management has long been one of the weakest links in any production chain. There are some very good solutions such as 5th Kind, but many smaller facilities have struggled to implement any system while other larger companies have often in the past had to rely on in-house SQL programmers to manage an ever more complex and distributed database of assets. Not only is the problem a fairly huge one, but the gains or rather the losses from time lost due to a bad system can mean a vast difference in the razor thin margins of VFX. For Shotgun to dramatically lower its price and include both Tank and Revolver is Shotgun showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks.

The business model of Shotgun does work however when you factor in the long term engagement a company tends to have when they have embraced a complete Shotgun solution. In a world of shifting alliances and short term memory when it comes to vendor loyalty, a studio that moves to doing all its scheduling, review and asset management with any software like Shotgun will find it hard to break away. So interwoven is the software with the fabric of the company’s pipeline, jumping around to other solutions without major upheaval is virtually unthinkable. This gives Shotgun something very rare in this business, a predictable cashflow and long term planning horizon. Companies may of course shut down but while the software works and production continues, Shotgun can look at very long term relationships and this allows for such aggressive moves as the one announced today. What might be pugnacious in an another environment makes perfect sense when you are able to lock in market share and thus secure a long term R&D program as Shotgun has, which translates into 4 product releases a year and continuing serious product development.

From just a few production guys in 2006 with an idea – Shotgun Software now provides:

–Tracking: Organize and track all related details in customizable interfaces accessible by everyone in the production.

–Scheduling: Assigning crew to projects, schedule who’s working on what / when, and sharing the latest schedule the studio.

–Review & Approval: Tools for tracking submitted movies and images, organizing them into playlists, and rapidly writing and distributing notes. Playback of shots in cut order, annotating of frames and sending of notes directly to artists from inside the browser.

–Customization & Integration: Highly evolved tools for designing layouts, database schemas, and apps to support facility specific solutions. An open Python API and event stream to help bridge the gap between production data and other pipeline tools.

–Asset Management: including

  • Automatically creating folders and files based on configurable templates and data in Shotgun.
  • Set up multiple file structures for different projects or enforce consistent conventions across all projects.
  • Pre-built and customizable Python integrations for a host of industry-standard content creation tools including Maya, Nuke, Motionbuilder, Photoshop and 3ds Max. More tools are planned to be supported before the release, especially Adobe tools and more Foundry and Autodesk tools.
  • Note: This toolset, previously announced as a separate software package called Tank, will be fully integrated as part of Shotgun but it is currently in private beta with more than 100 studios. This Beta is expected to be release in the summer (guess that means SIGGRAPH).

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