Abstract Factory Blog

Meet the TD – Jimmy Johansson of Flow-Manager

27 Aug 2013

Had a chat with Jimmy, author of Flow-Manager, recently. Here are some of the things we talked about.

Who’s behind Flow?

We are four people in total today, I’m the only Swede in the project and also the founder who started the whole project.

What led you to the initiative of creating Flow?

My motivation for creating a simpler workflow actually came from working on lots of studios and most of them were clueless about the pipeline or how to improve it. The plugins and systems that existed during that time was not as great as I needed them to be so I started out creating a plugin for Maya that took care of everything I was looking for in a system. But, like any project they grow and eventually I wanted to put more and more features in until eventually a Maya plug-in was not enough. During this time I spent a lot of time using Shotgun and at first thought about creating integrations with that. However I choose to go my own way to make my own space in which I can have full control.

It was at this time I realized that I couldn’t do everything myself and went on to recruit a buddy of mine with whom I’ve worked with before. It turned out he had another friend who worked with databases and security and so we got him involved as well and it was at this point where we started working on a web-based asset management system.

Now we don’t have any restrictions and have put the old maya plugin aside to instead create a unique third-party solution we call “Launcher”. Around this time, we got another co-worker who deals with UI design and support in general. Together we have over 20 years of experience in the business so we have a pretty good idea of what is required in production.

What is your background?

I personally have worked as a Pipeline TD for many years now. I lived in London for about five years and worked on all sorts of things, my last job was at MPC as a R&D Director / Pipeline TD and before that I was in their rigging department.

What technologies are you using?

We run everything in industry-standard Python and PyQt for our integration applications whereas our Web software runs on Java.

What makes Flow different?

We try to make the complete studio environment. Its reliable, easy to set up and most of all, speeds up the artists workflow. There will be no need to have any specific knowledge to set up or to support it. We’re here to make things easy for you, simple as that.

Being an infrastructure product, how important is it to make Flow flexible and extensible?

We’ve gotten lots of feedback from studios running our beta version who all say the same thing. It has to be open and dynamic enough for it to adapt to every pipeline. The idea of introducing a working system to studios is great but the fact is that very few are willing to adapt to anything new. You’d be surprised!

How did you approach your first customer?

I spoke with a few studio heads I knew from previous jobs whom I knew was in need of a better pipeline.

How are you moving forwards with development?

We are constantly developing our platform with new features and tools to aid the artists further. We are carefully listening to our clients feedback and adjusts our development schedule accordingly. A lot of our focus is spent on expanding our support for the Flow Launcher integration in even more applications with 3ds Max, Zbrush, Motionbuilder and along with a few more to be expected in the short future. We have started accepting more studios to join the beta so anyone can sign-up on our site and give it a go themselves, that being studios, individuals or schools.

How would you like to grow, are you taking in more employees, having your own studio etc?

We’ll start hiring in the near future once we’ve got a more stable income. I’ll be going full-time once my current project comes to an end. We’ve got a roadmap for our company with several products and integrations that no-one else has anywhere. Simply put, our motto is to break new ground. We’ll be opening a studio too once we get enough full-time employees.

Thanks Jimmy for letting me pick your brain! To everyone else, feel free to comment or ask more questions below, or contact Jimmy directly.