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Any hints or concept suggestions or links to useful info about how to work in a complex VFX workflow.

I'm just about to start preproduction for a film with a lot of VFX and that will require quite a bit of sound design throughout the process.

I would like to get a grip on how it's "normally" done and figure out where the pitfalls are. How to get naming conventions to work to be able to reconform through the editing process. Is it normal to keep metadata and time code in video and audio files when the get sent away and subsequently returned from VFX to be able to reconform and/or trace the changes? There is a new world of information out there, I just need to know where and how to find it...

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I haven't had to deal with this myself, thankfully have always had a very clever assistant on the team... but I know that naming & version tracking of VFX is crucial, otherwise when you get an update of a reel with new VFX, the conform will just leave a hole where the new VFX is, i.e. it thinks it is totally new shot....

We use Maggot Conformalizer & as Justin has worked on so many VFX heavy films (LOTR, Tintin, Hobbit) he has designed & evolved it to handle VFX tracking... Have a look at his site

http://www.maggot.co.nz/software/conformalizer.shtml

There is a tutorial/example video on VFX tracking with Conformalizer here:

So if I handover a temp mix for a VFX shot, I name it with VFX version #, they can sync it, rework the VFX, handover a new reel with VFX updated and my source PT session will conform to the new VFX (where possible)

It makes my head hurt when I think what those guys go through on such VFX heavy films, but their systems, tracking and processes are rock solid! Highly recommended...

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  • I wish we had assistants with knowledge that could help us. Unfortunately assistants as a type of employee have never really existed here outside of picture editing. Normally it's me and our tech nerd who figures out what to do with reconforms and workflows. – ErikG Feb 17 '14 at 6:13
  • A feature film with a lot of VFX is new to us. I would feel bad asking Justin as we choose to use sounds in sync's EdiLoad instead of Conformalizer. So I'll start with Mark Franken and hope that he has got a Ediload VFX workflow as well. – ErikG Feb 17 '14 at 6:44
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Make friends with your picture dept!!! On the last VFX film I did we negotiated with the picture assist to run dummy pic clips in avid locked to VFX shots. So as the shot was updated and had its named changed from different vendors we would still get a consistent picture EDL and our reconform would not leave large gaps. If the shot was extended he would insert a new dummy clip to match and lock it to the extension. Hope that makes sense.

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All you need is for the VFX house(s) to use a standardised and sensible clip naming convention and for the EDLs to contain clip names in the comments field.

Conformalizer has some tricks for identifying the VFX shots based on the rules you give it and it'll match any updated VFX as if nothing had changed, but then warn you by changing the event to a red colour.

Our assistant makes the cut change comparison, then goes through and checks all these red events to eyeball the VFX changes. You can even pop up a "difference view" which subtracts the old version from the new so you can see exactly what has changed.

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  • Getting a sensible and consistent naming convention for VFX will probably be quite hard to achieve, with multiple VFX suppliers and subcontractors... – ErikG Mar 5 '14 at 20:33

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