Every CG artist knows the pain of trying to keep track of design changes that are buried deep within email chains with a subject line like "Client Meeting 12 Dec". Large VFX and CGI studios have appreciated that this is a problem for a while and have switched to using tools such as ftrack as a result, which keeps a record of project management and asset development, as well as handling all internal and external review systems.
While undoubtedly powerful, ftrack’s previous range of options could be a daunting proposition for smaller studios or standalone freelancers who want to keep track of their 3D art only, without all of the other project management tools (and expense) that software like ftrack offers. To meet this demand, ftrack has now released a 'lite' version – ftrack Review.
It is a standalone online review system that gives artists the ability to create online repositories of work, such as shots and stills, and share these with other artists working on the project. This software also enables clients to collaborate and approve or reject shots through an easy-to-use player and online notation system.
It has two distinct areas. The 'library' enables users to collate assets into projects, and then when the ftrack review system has encoded them to play back easily online, the assets can be added to a 'review'. A review enables users to comment and notate using shapes, comments and online doodles directly onto the player, as well as supply multi-page PDFs when required.
These changes are tied to the timeline, enabling the user to start inline conversations around the comments, and due to the clean ftrack Review interface and the helpful methodology of adding distinct colours to users as they are added, it is easy to see who has added what comment and when.
This ease of use is extended to those who need to approve shots. Called 'collaborators', their interface is subtly different and only enables access to the elements that need to be approved, which can be easily done via the large 'Reject' or 'Approve' icons in the middle of the player.
There are a number of online tools similar to ftrack Review currently appearing on the market, but ftrack Review stands its ground, which is impressive for an initial release. It is helped by its easy-to-use and stable interface, as well as the fact the 'less is more' paradigm, prevalent throughout ftrack Review, is underpinned by the fact the full version of ftrack Studio (which will bundle ftrack Review) is there if and when a project scales up.
Even if ftrack Studio is not needed, the team at ftrack have ensured that ftrack Review feels like an application that will easily collate and clarify feedback on a CG artist’s work, and will banish the pain of change control to the past. It is certainly worth a look for projects of any size.
(Please note: this review was performed on a beta version of ftrack Review – features and UI elements in the final release may be slightly different to those reviewed.)