Last night I was lucky enough to be invited with a number of our customers from Architecture, Construction, Manufacturing and the Entertainment worlds to a screening of the third instalment of Iron Man at BAFTA in London. For those that don't know, Iron Man 3 had the 2nd biggest opening of all time, only superseded by The Avengers last year. As a big movie geek (I have far too many 'making of' and 'art of' books at home), it was great to see a big film like this in somewhere completely different from the local multiplex, but for me the real treat was to hear from a couple of our visual effects customers, Simon Stanley Clamp from Cinesite and Alexis Wajsbrot from Framestore talk about how key scenes from the film were put together followed by a Q&A session.
For me I was fascinated by the parallels between the problems the entertainment industry has faced over the years and how closely it aligns with the issues we see you in the construction industry facing.
- Large datasets - With terabytes of information being passed around the world, there's a number of issues with how this is stored, how it is accessed and how it can easily be found, it's partly about working intelligently with data, not transferring every piece of data across with each revision, only the parts that have changed. Often projects are spread between internal offices, different firms, and across time-zones, that isn't likely to change any time soon so the issue of data needs to be addressed, the quality, size and version control are all vital to the eventual delivery.
- Consistent organised up to date content - There are a number of challenges around ensuring that the latest version of some content is passed and filtered across all companies, all relevant shots, and there isn't a manual process to ensure that you are up to date at the start of each day. Being able to find the right up to date content quickly and easily speeds up the whole process and reduces the chances of mistakes.
- Regular reviews – In Iron Man 3 the director was running reviews of daily work with 18 different studios, using mark-up tools to point out areas of concern, in Cinesite's case, they only had 9 weeks to produce over 100 shots, something that would normally be spread over a much longer period, regular review cycles were essential to get quick turnarounds. The faster an issue can be identified, the sooner it can be addressed.
- Working together! - In the case of Iron Man, not every firm on the project was looking after a shot in its complete state; different elements were brought in from different firms, and collected in a single place for additional post production work like atmosphere effects and color grading. In our world, you will often have multiple companies working on the same end goal but the processes to do this efficiently, although in everyone's best interest, often are hit by hurdles that we struggle to overcome.
- Information sharing – As the end product needs to have consistency, everything is shared between teams, the IP is owned by the client, and information, textures, objects are all shared between the teams at different firms to prevent downtime of redoing the same job again, at the same time everyone learning better ways to do things, improving the overall final product.
- Learning's from previous projects - In Marvel's case, this isn't the first project they've done, and although the look, feel and make up of a film like Thor is very different to Captain America or Iron Man, they haven't been starting afresh each time round, they've learnt that organised projects, reusing common elements, and continuous improvement on processes is helping turn around effects heavy films under increasingly tight deadlines. Compare this to construction, it's very rare you get two identical projects, but the processes will largely be the same, from conception through to handover, common libraries can be reused and then custom elements brought in as needed.
These issues can be solved today; they're not a distant pipedream we can admire from afar. Using tools like BIM 360 Glue, Vault and Revit can help you can manage the huge task of organising projects and data into a state where no one needs to know what is happening behind the scenes, just that it is there on your desktop or tablet device ready to work on.
And if you're wondering about the film, all I'll say it Ben Kingsley's performance as The Mandarin is worth watching the film alone.
Here's the only chance I'll get to post a film trailer on the blog, if you want to know more about our Entertainment division, I highly recommend following Jamie's Jewels blog for behind the scenes videos and more on how our software is used!