Read before you begin
In the Artella pipeline we've tried to take a lot of the guesswork out of the equation for you when managing complex animated projects. However, there are still guidelines and processes you need to follow in order for your work to go through the pipe smoothly. Below you will find a step-by-step guide to using the Artella Pipeline. Bookmark this page and use it as a reference as you go through your production.
Also, we highly recommend you read our nuts and bolts of animation production blog post so you can start your production on the right track.
- If you have AntiVirus software you will need to add Artella to your trusted sites when installing the App.
- The Artella app works best on Chrome and Firefox.
- The Artella app does not work on mobile, tablets, Linux or Chromebooks at this time.
The first time you install the Artella app it will ask you where you want to store files on your computer. Artella only talks between the cloud and this folder.
After installation you are dropped into your documents directory. We recommend using the "New Folder" button to create a directory called, "Artella".
Artella App Overview:
Here is a brief video overview of the Artella app. More details can be found on this page below.
Creating a new Asset:
An asset is a character, prop, set, script... really any piece you will be using to create your project. Double click to open folders.
When you create a new asset you're creating what we call a "container".
A container holds everything that pertains to that asset. For example when you create a "Character" asset it sets up all the files and folders you need to start working with.
- Art: This is where you can place any art or concept pieces you have for this particular asset.
- Model: Is where you do your modeling, rigging and surfacing work. Having worked on over 100 remote projects, we've found that doing this work together in one file makes the production go much more smoothly. There is also a Review folder that is created under model. Put any turntable movies or images you'd like to submit to your project feed here.
- Textures: This is where your texture files go. They are applied to the model file, but the actual image files for textures for this asset live in the Textures folder.
NOTE: Currently Maya Ascii files are created for the model files when you make new assets. If you'd like to know more about why we use Ascii files you can read more in this blog post. If you're using another software you can delete the pre-made files and drag and drop in your own empty file for the software you are using. Templates will be customizable in the future.
Using Maya With Artella:
To get the Artella menu in Maya, which gives you direct access to saving to the cloud, you need to open Maya from the Artella Pipeline App. If you open Maya any other way it will NOT have direct connectivity to the Artella Pipeline App.
Direct access to Artella is only available in Maya at this time. We plan to add more integrations based on demand.
Using Artella with other software applications:
Artella works with any software application. Here is the process:
- Drag and drop your file from any other software application into Artella (see below for details); e.g. Premiere Pro, Nuke, Blender, Photoshop, etc.
- Lock the file ("Edit mode is: on" - your profile picture will be on it).
- Double click the file from within Artella and it will open - Do not open Maya this way as it needs to be started from our "Open" menu, noted above.
- Save the file as you are working. This saves your file locally.
- To get your file into the cloud with a new version, go back to Artella and select, "Make new Version" and this will save new versions to the cloud.
Drag and drop files:
Drag and drop files onto the dotted box to have them upload.
NOTE: At this time you cannot drag and drop whole folders with files inside. You'd have to "+ New Folder" then drag and drop the files you want from inside that new folder.
Bringing in Existing Files:
This short video explains the process for bringing in existing files into Artella.
To bring in assets that have textures you need to:
- Drag and drop your texture files into the, "textures" folder for the given asset.
- Remap the textures in your newly added model file.
- Save your file - when you do this Artella will change the paths of your textures automatically so that they will work for other people in distributed locations without them having to do anything. That's it.
There are two main areas for accessing menus in the Artella App. Take 30 seconds to watch this short vide describing the different ways of accessing them.
The Global Menu can be access in the upper right of the Files area. You can also right click on any empty space in the Files area to access these menus quickly.
Folder and File menus can be accessed by clicking the ellipsis or by right clicking anywhere on the file or folder.
When working on animated Film and VFX projects you'll want to "Publish" your assets before you bring them into shots.
Projects using game engines do not use the "Publish" function. Instead you export cache files into the "Cache" folder provided within the asset container and then use that cache file in the game engine.
Step 1: Select the Asset File or Folder you want to publish and select, "Publish".
Step 2: Add a descriptive comment and publish.
NOTE: The app will detect previous published versions and name them accordingly; i.e. model_v001, model_v002.
All published files for a given asset live at the top level of the asset container.
NOTE: Published assets live in the cloud. You do not have them locally until you sync them.
How Publishing works:
Publishing a file takes a snapshot of whatever you have published at that time. It allows you to bring an in progress asset into production for previs/layout even animation while you work to finalize or update the asset as needed. Swapping from a v001 asset to a v002 and beyond, is as easy as "syncing the release" of the published asset you want, then going into Maya's reference editor and switching v001 of that asset to v002 and it will update seamlessly (so long as the hierarcy or skeleton has not changed)
Syncing a Release:
Syncing is slightly different on published files. To do so, select the folder you'd like to release then right click on the folder to select, "Sync Release".
Creating a Sequence:
When working on an animated Film project type, create a New Sequence.
The App will automatically create 2 sub folders in your new sequence; "_editorial" and "_master_layout".
_Editorial is where all the movie files go for the assembly of editorial per department. For instance, when you've moved into animation the .mov files that are generated should be put in the _editorial/anim folder. Every time there's a new update to that shot it should be drag and dropped into the dotted line box and the file version will auto increment and the next time you open your editorial file you will immediately have the latest up to date cut.
Inside the "_edit" folder is where you will put the your editing file. We've had great success using Premiere pro with the Artella App. There is also an "exports" folder where you can export the latest version of your assembled cut to.
Master layout is the bridge between Assets and your production. If you are using Maya, Reference published Sets and Props into your _master_layout file and place each asset in their proper location for your world; e.g. Set Dressing.
We've found that referencing Characters works best on a per shot basis as those files tend to be the heaviest.
The below image shows you the workflow to go from Asset development into Shots.
Watch this video for full details - 3 min.
Create a new shot:
NOTE: We recommend reading our blog post on Previs before going into shot production.
When you create a new shot it sets up all the files and folders you need to start working with.
NOTE: If you're using another software than Maya you can delete the pre-made files and drag and drop in your own empty file for the software you are using. Templates will be customizable in the future.
These are the most common folders we've seen used across our different productions. If your production has additional needs such as simulation for hair and/or cloth you can simply add those folders as necessary; i.e. "cloth_sim," "hair_sim," etc.).
- Anim: This is where the animation files can be accessed. There is also a "review" folder where .mov files can be added and a "ref" folder where animation reference can be added.
- Comp: This is where your compositing takes place. No base file is created here as compositing software varies from production to production. You can drag and drop an empty file to start working within the "comp" folder; e.g. Nuke, After Effects, etc.
- Light: This is where the lighting files are accessed. There is also a "review" folder where renders and test renders can be added.
- Previs: This is typically the first stage of shot production where your _master_layout file is brought into.
NOTE: Again, we recommend reading this article on Previs before going into shot production.
Going from Previs to Anim:
As you move from one production phase to the next we recommend importing the file into the next phase of production sequentially. In other words, after previs is final, import the previs.ma file into the anim.ma file. If more previs needs to be done after this step, then new previs changes would be done in the anim file. Each phase of the production moves forwards at this point.
Going from Anim to Light = Assembly:
Assembly is where all the pieces come together. This process is outlined in detail in this series of video and slide documentations.
You can use any renderer you'd like with Artella. We've done extensive work with Arnold and RenderMan with great success.
Depending on your budget, you may want to tap into a 3rd party render farm service like Zync or Summus. We have experience using both of these services with Artella with great success. Zync provides excellent documentation for their integration and tend to give anywhere from $300 - $600 in rendering away for free when you begin using their service. Check them out on Twitter for their latest promotions.
Data can get big fast when rendering. We recommend putting your rendered frames in the shot's light/review folder and having _editorial grab those files directly from the shot's lighting/review folder instead of duplicating the frames in _editorial/light. Lower res lighting comps can be put into the _editorial/light folder.
As noted above, data can get big fast when rendering for comp, too. We recommend putting your comp rendered frames in the shot's comp/review folder and having _editorial grab those files directly from the shot's comp/review folder instead of duplicating the frames in _editorial/comp. Lower res comps can be put into the _editorial/comp folder.