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Wednesday
Nov302011

DRAFT + DEADLINE !

DRAFT is a plug-in for Deadline 5.1 that automates a number of image and simple compositing operations. Consider it a swiss-army knife to generate formats, convert files, create templates, automate slates and other common elements your clients require for delivery. The entire system is woven directly into the DEADLINE rendering pipeline, allowing you to harness all of the data from your rendering jobs.

For example, from within your submission dialogue of your favorite rendering application [Maya, Max, Nuke, Fusion, Houdini, Cinema4d, Lightwave etc] data such as frame counters, shot names, camera info etc.. can autopopulate onto quicktimes, jpegs or other formats. Using the Shotgun integration or tying the system to your database allows you to additionally populate your Draft renders with data from your project automatically.

Phew. That's a lot of verbage to explain something pretty simple: DRAFT makes the creation of slates/headers, thumbnails, quicktimes with watermarks, contact sheets completely and 100% automatically. ..and that makes me happy.

One of our beta clients, Straightface Studios kindly supplied us with some sample output from DRAFT. The folder snapshot below was created by submitting an AfterEffects job of a T-Mobile spot to Deadline, and enabling DRAFT. 

Draft did a number of things, but First note the zipped folder. This contains the AfterEffects file used to generate the render. Straightface wished to include that file with the output so they can have an archived copy present within their deliverables folder. This isn't necessary, but certainly a nice option and because DRAFT and DEADLINE both support Python, very easy to do.

Second - you can see an .xml file is included. This contains whatever data they wanted to pull along with the job from AfterEffects, their database etc. You don't have to do this, but again - a nice option to have the relevant data. In this case, the file contains the user who generated the file, the project name, the length of frames, the source file, version numbers and Shotgun entities as well as the path of the final render.

Draft used the the final render to generate the 4 other outputs - a Thumbnail, a 720p quicktime, a Web quicktime, and a contact sheet with 4 images from the spot. The DRAFT job shows up in DEADLINE as a dependent job, waiting for that final render to complete. Once your render is done - Draft does it's thing... Let's look at the output from Draft in this case - 

First the 720p quicktime - note: this is a link to YouTube, so it isn't the raw file 

Note the Slate at the beginning. This didn't exist in the raw renders - it was created at render time. As I noted earlier, DRAFT can handle simple compositing operations, and all of the text in that file is rendered by DRAFT, the content of which comes from data you enter, data from your scene, or data from your database [in this case Shotgun]. Although you can also enter these fields manually at submission time, or by adding a DRAFT job directly from within DEADLINE the point is to let the computers do the work so you can get back to doing the art!

The watermark of the logo and framecounter are also created by DRAFT, with complete control over placement, density and so forth. There isn't any reason why you couldn't have black bars above and below for film output, or have the system print FOV, artist name or Lens information on the shot, or any other ideas you [or your clients] may have.

In the folder there is also a QT called 'Web' -The web version is identical, containing the watermark and frame counter - but at a much lower resolution. 

Let's take a look at the 'thumbstrip' or contact sheet to the right.

It contains a series of frames that are placed together into one thumbnail - the original size of this was 1:1 with the source, but I have resized it here for space sake.

Because DRAFT is a simple compositor, it can crop or place elements beside each other so a contact sheet is easy to make. There isn't any reason you could not make a 5*5 or 10*10 contact sheet of your render - or even of every shot in a sequence. You can even create iterations - do a 10*10 contact sheet at 1/10 1/2 and full-res!

Couple this with iterations of quicktimes - and you can really start to open up the future of this system.

I want to see clients using this to automatically create cut/context edits, publish geometry turntables, zip and ftp files up the web, or create deliverables for editorial, internal proxies, stereo review, thumbnails, dailies, and all the miriad other formats out there with one button push! 

Next time- we will walk through the Python file that created these elements so you can better see how your pipeline can get setup to automate all of these pieces.

Draft ships with Deadline 5.1 and is free for clients on yearly support.

For a technical demonstration to see Draft in action, please take a look here: