Sunday, April 29th, 2018 Posted by Jim Thacker

Get handy free VFX pipeline management tool Prism

FX TD Richard Frangenberg has released Prism, an open-source tool described as a complete readymade pipeline for VFX and animation projects.

Intended to streamline common asset and render management tasks, Prism integrates with a range of common DCC tools: 3ds Max, Blender, Houdini, Maya and Nuke.

Automate common VFX pipeline-management tasks without scripting
Prism enables users to perform a range of common tasks involved in setting up and maintaining a production pipeline without scripting, working from a standard GUI inside its host applications.

Users can set up projects with custom directory structures – there are readymade subdirectory types for assets, scenes and dailies – with the option to define local and shared network project folders.

Once a project has been set up, assets can be shared between scenes, with Prism handling file pathing and conversion between scene units automatically. It is also possible to merge or reference entire scenes.

Although it isn’t a fully fledged version control system, Prism automatically creates a new version of a scene when saving, making it possible to browse updates by user or data created, and to view user commments.

As well as the native file formats of its host applications, Prism supports a range of common geometry exchange formats, including Alembic, FBX, OBJ and Houdini BGEO files.

Generate and review playblasts and renders
Prism also manages the generation of assets for review, including playblasts and renders. Files are made available to other team members via the project folder, with naming and filepaths handled automatically.

Renders can be generated locally or on a renderfarm – jobs can be submitted via Deadline – using most available render engines.

Once created, media can be automatically converted between resolutions or file types: according to the Prism website, both still image and video formats, although there doesn’t seem to be a complete list online.

A free, lightweight alternative to commercial tools
Although it isn’t as feature-rich as commercial asset management or shot review tools, Prism may be an option worth investigating for small teams, particularly for collaborative or student shorts.

Frangeburg has worked at VFX houses Unexpected and Scanline VFX, so Prism’s design is informed by experience of real production pipelines; and used the software on Reflection, his own student short.

Prism is also compatible with key third-party platforms: notably Shotgun for asset management – files can be synchronised between the two, and renders published to Shotgun – and RV, DJV and VLC for playback.

System requirements and availability
Prism is available under an open-source MIT licence, making it free for use in commercial projects. You can make a voluntary donation to support future development.

It runs on 64-bit Windows – other OSs “may be added in future” – and is compatible with 3ds Max 2017+, Blender 2.79, Houdini 16.0+, Maya 2016+ and Nuke 10.0+.

Download free VFX pipeline tool Prism from the product website