Mexico’s Boxel Studio Scales to Meet Growing Content Demands with ShotGrid-Powered Pipeline

How the VFX and animation studio has been using Autodesk ShotGrid in production.

For more than a decade, Boxel Studio’s skilled team of artisans have crafted high-caliber VFX and animation for global clients, including Nickelodeon, Disney, A&E, CW, Lionsgate, National Geographic, HBO, and Endeavor. Amidst the ongoing content boom, Boxel Studio has scaled its workload capacity to meet growing client demand with ShotGrid as its core central production management tool. Under the supervision of Director of Technology Andres Reyes Botello, a ShotGrid-based pipeline has enabled the team to grow to more than 300 artists and provide comprehensive consulting and creative partner services for leading networks in the M&E industry.

Reyes Botello shared, “At Boxel, we have a philosophy that our artists’ time should be focused on what they do best – creating stunning visuals and animations. To make this possible, it’s critical we help our creative team organize their workload so they are able to execute their best artistry, while still allotting time for continuous education to foster professional growth and innovation. As demand for content continues to grow, if we don’t help our artists organize, track, and manage their daily, weekly, and monthly workloads, we’ve calculated that they’re losing about 30% of the time and resources that should be spent on priority tasks. Without a tool like ShotGrid to aid production tracking and management, the administrative workload really starts to take a toll on artists and the studio.”

Boxel’s ShotGrid user interface.

Boxel Studio is currently in production for shows that require the delivery of more than 100 approved shots in 15 days, including high-end digi-doubles, animation, full CG environments, and particle simulations that must satisfy high creative, technical, and visual expectations. “Tools like ShotGrid allow us to deliver services that go beyond shot creation and work as partners with the networks and VFX producers. We really strive to bring our best to the productions we are involved in, and when shows get really challenging, good organization and communication is a must,” added Reyes Botello.

On Nickelodeon’s hybrid live-action/animated show “The Fairly OddParents: Fairly Odder” for Paramount+, Boxel Studio provided full partner services for the network, going from initial proof of concept (POC) to visual development and final execution. Reyes Botello said, “We were hired to create a POC test, where our team of illustrators, animators, and compositors collaborated with Nickelodeon to bring the characters and likeness in 2.5D to a live-action plate. Once the test was approved and the show was greenlit, we were involved in every step of production, including on set supervision for hybrid animation, asset development, animation, effects, and final compositing. Having the opportunity to work with Nickelodeon’s executive, creative, and production team was an amazing experience, and using ShotGrid as our production management tool really helped streamline our production workflow.”

Reviewing a shot inside ShotGrid.

Boxel has been up and running with ShotGrid since 2009, when the studio worked on “El Americano, The Movie” its first feature film and co-production between the U.S. and Mexico. Prior to this, the studio was roughly 15-20 artists who handled the majority of its workload via Excel spreadsheets with loads of notes. Today, the studio services a full slate of 2D and 3D animated shows, and high-end VFX for series, and feature film projects. Reyes Botello added, “Our studio is currently at 300 artists. We’ve expanded from 20 artists with two-to-three ShotGrid licenses, to now ensuring that each artist has their own ShotGrid account. This is crucial for our operations. We see and understand the true value of investing in quality production management tools.”

A robust ShotGrid-based pipeline helps Boxel Studio breakdown and manage workloads, shots, and tasks; track calendars and delivery deadlines: and plan budgets and resources. Reyes Botello shared, “With ShotGrid, we are able to assign and properly track the number of hours that an artist has allocated for a particular task. With this level of control, we have a detailed overview of finances for each show in production. We’re able to provide this pertinent financial information to our studio managers and producing partners to verify that projects are within budget or trigger the necessary actions to make appropriate decisions for the show.”

Some Boxel assets inside ShotGrid.

Reyes Botello continued, “We also have greater real-life scheduling insight on whether we’ve assigned an artist a task that goes beyond their skillset. For instance, if a junior-level creative is working on a shot that’s too complex for them to deliver by the deadline, we have weekly reporting to manage the workload distribution and ensure people are assigned to tasks they’re capable of handling well. If we have a hard week, the reporting allows us to rebalance the workload so that we’re more efficient the next week.”

ShotGrid further allows Boxel Studio to track projects granularly and keep productions running as hassle-free as possible, while also providing clients with detailed weekly workload executive reports. The executive reports offer a thorough overview of the status of the production, weekly activity, and the overall health of the project, providing studios with an effective chain of communication.

ShotGird shot list.

“Ultimately, the visibility that ShotGrid provides ensures that we’re hitting all hard deadlines, and if it weren’t for ShotGrid, we wouldn’t be as successful as we are today,” Reyes Botello said. “It’s a very efficient communication tool between artists and coordinators, coordinators and managers, producers and clients. There’s a great demand for content, and very few studios and skilled artists to service that demand. It’s critical to be efficient with the capacity you have, and ShotGrid plays an integral role in that regard.”

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