Thinkbox Software has teamed with veteran VFX Producer Joyce Cox (“The Jungle Book,” “The Great Gatsby,” “Avatar”) to develop Vero, a new cloud-based application that simplifies the VFX budgeting and cost management processes. The system is designed primarily for high end script breakdown and budgeting, which surprisingly is still primarily done by Excel spreadsheets at both studio and vendor level. 

The system encapsulates Joyce’s bidding philosophy and methodology into an accessible system to help estimate and bid VFX budgets. The system is designed to aid in script breakdown, project revisions and overages. 

“Joyce truly understands the ins and outs of VFX production, and her bidding and financial management process is solid and predictable having been production proven on many major studio feature films”.      

David Taritero, Sr VP VFX, Production, Disney

Vero
Early Screen Grab

Vero is broken into four distinct stages:

• Script Breakdown allows users to import a screenplay file, and the app automatically breaks down the screenplay into scenes and actions. Scenes can then be manually grouped into sequences, and VFX shots can be added to actions manually, or automatically based on action descriptions.

• Budget Room enables users to manually rate VFX shots based on the level of complexity. The producer can then more accurately estimate generic shot costs and begin to layout the VFX production crew and equipment needs.  

•  Market Place empowers users to create custom bid packages that can easily be shared with interested VFX vendors. Receive and compare preliminary and secondary bids, evaluate designation scenarios, narrow list of potential vendors and apply costs to a VFX budget.

• Contract Room acts as a central hub where bids are awarded and accepted, changes to scope are managed and communicated to vendors and studios, and contracts are archived.

Vero
Click for larger image

Joyce Cox explains her motivation for developing Vero: “VFX is often one of the largest chunks of a film budget; however, the current methods for predicting and tracking the costs of VFX shots vary wildly across the industry. Vero standardizes and streamlines an otherwise overly complicated process, to project and manage the bottom line throughout production as pricing fluctuates with scene changes”.

The system appears initially to be designed for major studio film projects, where a standardisation could greatly aid multiple bids and maintain in one place the documentation that surrounds overages and bid changes.

“We’ve focused on alleviating common pain points in all different areas of production and post, so creating a new, secure system for breaking down and planning VFX is right up our alley",comments Chris Bond, founder of Thinkbox Software. "I’ve known Joyce for years and deeply respect her expertise, so when she approached us with the idea for Vero, we knew we had to get involved”, 

Vero is currently in development, with beta expected to launch this fall. Its functionality is designed with senior VFX producers in mind but Thinkbox is evaluating how the solution could be extended across the production chain to benefit VFX facilities and smaller productions. Such second and third stage expansion would incorporate suitable links to project management software and daily scheduling applications. 

Attendees of SIGGRAPH 2016 can check it out at Thinkbox’s booth #449.


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