Method Studios

The Situation

Method Studios was challenged to manage artist time logged to projects across four countries. The company needed visibility into project expenditure and staffing but was hobbled without a detailed timekeeping solution that tracked artist tasks on shot-based work.

As user experience lead I designed a new artist facing time keeping experience and collaborated with our internal engineering team to pilot and launch the service. I also helped the artists optimize the software they use to craft effects.

Creating Shot-based Timesheets for VFX Artists

Shotclock II is a custom time and attendance application for shot-based work.

My Role

Data Analysis – Analyzed timekeeping habits for artists, using exported timelogs from teams.

User Research – Interviewed vfx artists and production teams, addressing their workflow needs for timekeeping.

Design Strategy – Negotiated with our executive stakeholders to develop solutions that addressed both corporate finance requirements and the needs of our core users, vfx artists.

Project Management – Negotiated product roadmap and schedule with engineering team and stakeholders. Worked with engineering team to sprint plan and hit deliverable deadlines.

UX and UI – Sketched workflows, wireframes, and developed final UI assets for the application. Set up style and asset guidelines.

User Support – Orchestrated support plan and team for bugs, outages, and routine user issues. Developed onboarding documents and video guides for new users. Conducted live training for site admins.

The Challenges

Method would win a project, schedule the crew and resource plan, and present live actual costs, but didn’t have the level of detail in timekeeping to really see where the budget was spent during the project. The estimates were frequently off or askew from accounting.

There wasn’t a product for tracking time on shots that my team could license or purchase. We had an opportunity to build a custom tracking system that mapped to Method’s product management tool, ShotGun, and our new global compensation system, Workday.

Initial User Research

Using exports of time logs from all of our major offices, I was able to piece together a snapshot of how artists at the studio worked. Their logs implied frequent visits and grooming of time logs during the day.

Rotoscope artists had the highest touch with timekeeping, logging frequent bursts of small tasks multiple times a day. Compositors logged the most time on extended tasks near the end of projects.

Data Insights Informing the Project

  • 2 week sample during moderately busy time at studio
  • All major offices
  • 6 departments used timekeeping heavily

Method Studios VFX Pipeline

Artist timekeeping workflows

Folks across offices were forced to take 5+ steps to log time and spend between 5 and 10 mins a day just logging time.

Melbourne Office Timesheets

In Method’s Melbourne and Sydney offices, time logging was already compulsory and with 88% usage and several years of circulation was an apt place to start for feedback.

Improving Time Logging and Saving Money

Staffing fluctuates with show deliveries, so preparing for crunch time with high staffing and high usage is critical. At current levels, Method would be needlessly losing cash annually just from artists logging time. *

Our goal was to retain 60% of our estimated revenue losses by shaving the submit time for heavy users down to 2min and everyone down to under a minute.

Our 60% strategy perfectly aligned with solutions to users main pain points

  • Forgetting to log time –rocketchat reminders for admins, warnings in-app
  • Forgetting how much time – automatic calculations in-app
  • Having to comb through lists for codes – recent tab, tab for my assigned tasks, elastic search
  • Not having control to edit my logs – full edit control eliminated wasted time emailing managers
  • Can’t find my tasks – autosynced tasks from SG every hour + manual flush button for admins

Taking Ownership of the Project

Our challenge was to build an application that accepted all types of timekeeping records to be sent unabridged to production management tool, ShotGun, for teams to gauge progress and staffing. Our other challenge was to pull billable time and send it to finance for payroll.

On top of that we needed to bridge a deliberate airgap between production and the outside world. We also had stakeholder input via excel program.

Roadmaps and Timelines

Team Journey Mapping

Stakeholder Input

User Experience

I modeled our new UI on two currently live and well-received logging apps in our Method offices and adapted the experience to meet our new requirements.

To get candid feedback and bug reports while piloting with our Vancouver office, I set up an internal chat channel that funneled feedback directly to our development team.



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