Attending MIFA in Annecy? Be sure to visit us at booth 4.D23 on June 11-14! Discover new features, ask questions and get demos.
Attending MIFA in Annecy? Be sure to visit us at booth 4.D23 on June 11-14! Discover new features, ask questions and get demos.
The Cerebro mobile app for Android and iOS will allow you to stay connected and up to date, no matter where you are.
Introducing Cerebro and Mirada updates! Now, you can move the paintings and set up the length with the numbers. We have also added new features such as task templates, messages with comments and much more!
Cerebro continues publishing interviews with customers. We talk with producers, project managers, and other industry professionals. We have talked to the executive producer Elena Degtyareva about her work in the animation company, hiring practices and experience with projects management systems.
This article contains detailed analysis of 3D Animation in Russia and the CIS. We are not trying to make excuses for the industry or blame the government for how they treat us, animation makers. This is just an attempt to create a 3D image of the animation industry, instead of a flat picture that everyone tends to see.
We introduce a Cerebro update and the main surprise: a task board! You can use the board to group tasks with a simple and convenient interface, providing for easier work and more flexible planning. We have also added new commenting options, sequences, PSD support, and much more.
We have new amazing stories from Cerebro customers. This time, we talked to the film producer, director Alexey A. Petrukhin, and VFX producer Maria Zaykovskaya from the Russian Film Group Corporation about the release of the Viy sequel, their experience with film production in China, and further plans.
Сerebro continues publishing interviews with customers. We have talked to head of HR Anna Khoroshilova and linear producer Igor Kazantsev from 3D Sparrow animation studio about their cartoon Booba, hiring practices and experience with projects management systems.
We have been preparing for this release since the beginning of this year, and the result is pretty darn awesome 🙂 We have rolled out cloud-based data centers in several regions at once. Surprise! The long-awaited mobile app with a cutting-edge look and feel. Localization and 24/7 Technical Support available in five languages. Cerebro Connectors, which enables working with Cerebro directly from other applications 💙
Cerebro continues publishing interviews with customers. We talk with producers, project managers, and other industry professionals. We have talked to the CEO Boris Mashkovtsev and the HR director Daria Strekalova of the legendary Soyuzmultfilm animation studio about implementing new technologies, development plans, and hiring practices.
🐙Meet Tentaculo – the Cerebro Connector, which enables working with Cerebro directly from other applications.
How to found a VFX studio after majoring in Geology? How does the Japanese management style work? How to impress the audience with Augmented Reality? Vitalijus Zhukas, the CEO of the OKTA Studio, tells us about this and much more 🎮💬❤️
CEREBRO UPDATES: Adding images to messages, stereo view, and other features 👓📌
Cerebro updates — 360° Video and images support and other features 📊🎬
Provocative, sophisticated, impressive. Dmitry Ostroglyadov, the head of the studio: how to keep challenging yourself and build a proper internal workflow. Read about the most extraordinary, large-scale projects in our interview 👾💬💜
– New interface
– Distinct comments
The new version of Mirada creates specific comments, and every comment’s author is displayed. Comments are viewed consecutively, and they may contain text, tag, sketch, duration or an audiovisual track.
Comments may be replied to Mirada directly.
– Possibility to set task status from Mirada
– Unified timeline
All playlist files are displayed in one scalable timeline.
– Export comments in PDF
Possibility to export comments in PDF in order to send elsewhere.
– Possibility to compare videos, images and PDF-files in three variants
Media files can be compared using three variants: horizontal, vertical, “wipe”.
In Cerebro, select the files you want to compare in the attachments panel or search and click the “Compare selected files” button.
Furthermore, there is a possibility to compare different shots from the same video using comparison marker, in three variants as well. Quick switch between the marker and the current shot is provided.
– Possibility to enable cache on video.
– Possibility to put on a loop either a video fragment or several playlist files.
Some shots at the beginning or at the end of a video file can be disabled. In this case they will be skipped during playback. Trailers may be set either on the whole playlist or on specific files.
– Setting your own hot keys.
– Some other different cool and useful features. Let’s watch some tutorials.
– Possibility to view forum on subtasks
There is a possibility to view threads immediately, without entering each task separately.
– Possibility to view forums related to the current task
– Copying multiple http-links to files at once
— The company was founded quite a long time ago; it’s been about 12 years, I think. At first it was called CNF-Anima, and in 2011, we renamed it as KinoAtis. The studio had been small until we started Belka and Strelka. The project was huge; most of the work was done right at the studio, so the company’s staff increased to some 130 people. Three years ago we launched a branch office in Sarov. Now we are working on two feature films and two series. As we speak, we have finished four feature films. Three have already been released, and the fourth is in post-production; it’ll be on in November to March. I cannot say the exact date of the release yet.
— Are you talking about Hurvinek?
— Yeah. We’ve also made four TV shows, although two of them were mini-series. One of them is called Micropolis, the other was The Unusual Adventures of Karik and Valya. Those are pretty old, we have long since finished them. Each consists of 7 episodes. However, both these series are still in demand on TV.
— And where did you get the idea for Belka and Strelka?
— The concept of a film about Belka and Strelka was hidden in plain eyesight. I wonder why no one had done it before we did. They were already heroes. The movie turned out quite successful, not only in Russia. It was localized in 45 languages and screened in 160 countries, almost globally. Besides, we have two seasons of a series about them, 104 episodes in total.
— Which one of your projects is your favourite?
— I think the best project we’ve had was The Unusual Journey of Serafima. Obviously, it is no match to Belka and Strelka it terms of box office revenue or coverage, but the film has something raw and true in it.
— Why exactly do you like it the most?
— You know, love is beyond logic.
— Hurvinek is a collaboration project with Belgium and the Czech Republic. How do you work with them?
— Everything is weird. At our studio, we solve all issues right off the bat; it takes ten minutes at most. Now we have to deal with everything via the Czechs, because they are the main mediator. For example, if we have a question to the guys from Belgium, it can take a week instead of 30 minutes. Thus, the work is slower than usual. Approval and receiving of materials from partners take a long time.
— How did you divide the work?
— We deal with directing and animation. The Czechs have initiated the project; they are responsible for the creative part. Belgium takes over rendering and final picture.
— Why did you leave rendering to Belgium?
— The Belgian studio is focused on rendering and compositing; they are very experienced in such projects.
— Does it mean that Hurvinek will be in all three languages?
— I really hope it will be in multiple languages. The film was launched in the Czech Republic and Slovakia on August 29. I still have little clue as to what comes next.
— How many people are involved in your projects? You referred to 130.
— Now we have fewer than that. The studio employs some 100 people in Moscow and the Sarov branch. Our policy is that we do not try to do everything in-house and delegate part of the work.
— Do you use outsourcing or freelance vendors?
— We do not work with freelance vendors, but we cooperate with other studios in different countries. For instance, we have a fruitful cooperation with India. They have a vast human resource pool, so the substitute bench is pretty extensive. Thus, if we are risking to miss a deadline, we can delegate our work to the Hinduses, and they will do everything alright. We were choosing from several companies, and now we work with the one that has a really good Lead Animator. However, we are reducing our work with India these days, since the USD exchange rate makes it far less interesting.
— What specialists are the majority? Those who manage the whole process?
— At the studio, we do the basic and the creative part ourselves, delegating the standard routine jobs. Take the animation: we do the layout, and the animation itself may go to third-party vendors. The better and cleaner is our layout, the better is the material we get from freelancers or India. It’s the same with rendering. In Moscow, we carefully set the master lighting, deal with models, make up the image, and only then we can delegate part of the job to a different studio.
— Given the conditions, how do you meet the deadlines? Do you often have them?
— Of course, we do have deadlines, but we’ve never failed to meet them at major projects. Sometimes it gets pretty scary, when you take the subway and see the ads of the movie there, knowing that a large part of it is not ready yet. There’s just three weeks before the release, and there’s still a lot of work.
— What helps you manage this and get the job done on time?
— Hard work and possibly luck. I like to think that the experience we’ve gained will help us avoid crunch time in the future. However, the pressure of deadlines and rushed production just before the release is not a thing we’ve invented. Hollywood works the same way. For example, we are voicing our movie and see a foreign animated feature voiced at the same time, even though its release is also in a month. And they are not voicing the final version, but only draft material. The Czechs had also done Hurvinek and the Magic Museum just a few days before the premiere.
— What software do you use to manage the quality and track the performance?
— We use Cerebro. It’s convenient that we can later see who had made a mistake. However, the transition was pretty hard. We were used to Excel sheets and only got Cerebro for testing by the second half of the Belka and Strelka project. At the same time, you have to understand that no software will help you if you don’t have decent production assistants and managers. Because you can mark something as ready in a program, while it might not be ready at all.
— You mean there has to be a person to check and control everything?
— Indeed. Previously, the projects were printed on spreadsheets hanging on the wall, and the assistants were blacking out the cells. Now, as we have switched to Cerebro, there is nothing on the wall but one common spreadsheet. We have set up a digital process and it works.
— So you like that Cerebro lets you check everything?
— Yeah. For example, artists often do this thing when they approve something in the system and after a while are like: “I never accepted it or even saw it, I see it for the first time.” Then you can look it up in the program and say: “Look, you’ve put a flag against this picture, it means that you saw it and accepted it.” This helps organize the process.
— It’s not like we are dealing with enormous volumes, so that we’d have to track this using some special software. I know that other companies manage several brands, including those that belong to other people. That’s when it really is hard to keep track of everything and remember, who owns what rights. In our case, the entire volume of licensing information is in the head of one person. If you ask our director for licenses, she will tell you everything, including licence expiration dates and extension periods. Now we actually have one major license, Belka and Strelka. The license for the new series called Planet Ai has been added. There is also Hurvinek; its licensing period will be short, because the cinema licence is valid for six months, but as a series, it works for decades. Sooner or later it’ll come to the point where we’ll have to track this digitally.
— How do you see your development in global markets? What are your plans?
— We are already in the global markets. In 2015, we entered the list of 25 best independent studios in the world according to the Animation Magazine. I mean, obviously, we are not Disney, nor are we Hollywood. But within ten years, we have turned into a large company in Russia. We are becoming visible in the world and will continue in the same spirit. The way Hurvinek will be received is crucial. This is the first serious project of this kind involving Russia. In the nearest future, we plan to complete two features. By the end of this year, we’ll see what’s in the package for the next few years. We also have several projects underway. I can say for sure that we’ll continue two of our series. We’ve started the third season of Belka and Strelka; it will be called Belka and Strelka: Space Secrets, so we’ll go a little deeper into science and into space. We will definitely continue Planet Ai. If Hurvinek goes well, we’ll keep collaborating with the Czechs. They already want to make a sequel.
— What was your start in the industry, where did you study, and how did you take part in movie-making?
— Good afternoon. I started 3D graphics as a hobby around the year 1994, when people still used 3D Studio and PC386, but ¾ I was not looking to become a professional back then. After that I started my studies. I entered the Tomsk State University, transferred to St. Petersburg a year later, and remembered about 3D graphics only on my third year of the military department, when they asked me to use 3D animation to demonstrate the S300 surface-to-air missile system: how missiles launch and so on. Perhaps, when I handed this project over and got the credit with no tests, I decided for myself that it would be nice to do this for a living.
I started to study LightWave—it was not popular at the time, still isn’t, although many people like it—and got a job in the Videosfera studio, where I made some phone models, basic animation, and simple commercials. I think the real kick-start of the whole story was the year 2004, when I started working at the Begemot studio under Lenfilm. At the time, they did postproduction of various series and advertisements, and I happened to gain invaluable experience there, while working on the Master and Margarita series. I learned a lot and possibly got a new qualification there as a 3D generalist: I learned what compositing and MatchMove were, as well as Shake, After Effect, and Maya.
Around 2007, Begemot, unfortunately, fell apart, and the V-Jet studio separated from it. Everything there was the same: fairly simple and unpretentious commercials (advertising for the LEK company, for example). And then the Moscow-based Dago studio, which was doing postproduction for the Admiral movie back then, hired our studio to process 16 underwater shots. I worked on them alone, from beginning to end; it was a turnkey project, so to speak. It involved texturing, modelling, rendering, animation, VFX, and compositing. When I handed these 16 shots over, Sergey Savenkov, supervisor of the Admiral project, invited me to a party in Moscow on the occasion of the opening night, and offered me a job. So I worked for the Dago studio from 2008 to 2013, where I was learning something new and honing my existing skills.
In March 2013, Kamal (R.C. Kamalakannan), who had already worked with me, a freelancer, on the Indian movie Eega, invited me to Chennai to work for the EFX Prasad studio as a CG supervisor of one project. Two months later, I realized that first, leaving your family is hard, and second, teleworking is a thing. So I suggested that we use Cerebro, because I had used it before, while working on the Smeshariki project in St. Petersburg. I thought, why not? They reviewed the proposal and found that it could be done. Everything was set up by June, so I went back to Petersburg to manage the project remotely.
In April 2014, Kamal offered me the next project, Puli, also Indian, quite interesting; and again, we did the entire postproduction cycle in Cerebro. We made some 2,000 shots within a year or so. The project turned out pretty decent VFX-wise, but the script had its flaws, and unfortunately, the movie failed. Finally, in November 2015, Kamal, already the supervisor of the Baahubali: The Conclusion project back then, invited me to work on the second part of the film. This was how I ended up there.
— Please tell us more about the tasks that the VFX team faced during this project?
— The Baahubali project is in many ways unique, at least for India. First of all, it had perhaps the highest budget in India; secondly, a large part of this money (some 20%) was allocated to VFX. Plus the scale — huge scenery with massive battle scenes, lots of characters, elephants, boars, and a lot more. The script was very extensive. The director of the project, Rajamouli, is an incredibly creative person; he knows how to make everything very colourful. Of course, it was quite difficult to implement all these ideas. During the year and a half when I was working on the project, the main task of the VFX team was to implement all ideas from the script and fantasies of the director in a fairly short period of time, which eventually resulted in over two thousand shots.
— Indeed, a very difficult task. How many studios participated in such a large-scale project? How were they selected, and how were the tasks distributed?
— By the end of the project, some 36 studios participated in it, if we just take those in Cerebro; I don’t think anyone knows the actual number, because vendors just hired different small studios that helped them implement the project, but the main ones numbered some 36. Supervisor Kamal directly engaged in the selection; he has a lot of relevant experience. I think he chose exactly those who could come in handy. Global tasks were distributed to studios based on their qualification in different VFX areas. The main difference from the Puli project is the number of studios; we had 36 instead of 15. Perhaps, the main difference was the way tasks were distributed; they were not broken down shot-by-shot, but rather task-by-task. I mean, studios were sometimes not given the whole shot, but a specific task—for example, one place had to matchmove one shot, another one did models with textures, the third one did animation, the fourth one did lighting and rendering, while the fifth one made the final composition. Thus, we were able to make the most of the strongest points of each studio. On the other hand, interaction between studios could cause extra difficulties, but in this case Cerebro allowed us to minimize them.
— Tell us, please, about the approach that director Rajamuli used when working with the VFX team.
— Working with Rajamuli is a pleasure. He is a unique person and director. His main distinguishing quality is that he completely immerses himself in all new issues and difficulties together with the VFX team to look for the best ways to solve them along with others. Many directors avoid getting involved in the process to that extent, especially in VFX, because people usually think this is strictly for IT experts, and no one cares how they get it done. Rajamouli, however, was with us through the whole cycle, at every stage, making an effort to ensure that this project is brought to life.
It is also worth mentioning that during the edit, when he reviewed final shots, he always recorded a video feedback to help supervisors and all people involved in post-production understand what exactly was the problem and make the changes he needed. Moreover, you could always call him directly and quickly solve some issues. Working with him was very comfortable, and if he ever suggested that we did something together again, I would happily embark on this opportunity.
— What was the most difficult part of the project?
— There were overall a lot of difficulties, and if I try and list everything now, it will take a lot of time. Probably, the hardest part was the last month on the project, when we had some 1,000 shots left out of 2,200. This was the most difficult, because the deadline was too close for so many shots and tasks that had been given a year and a half before, if we count preproduction. We had very little time, even though 36 studios and some 1,000 digital artists were working on this together.
— Please tell us about the effects. Are there some that look simple enough, but are very difficult to implement?
— Yes, I’ll just give an example. The very first sequence, the one with the elephant. It has two shots; we had to make a large dummy stuffed with straw, and the main character was to shoot it with an arrow to set fire. These two shots, that take 5 seconds on screen, took our Houdini freelancer almost a year to finish. You see, that person had to spend a year over a task (of course, he had other tasks as well), which will literally last an instant in the film.
— What part was the most interesting for you personally?
— I find it difficult to single out one thing. Working on each sequence was different and interesting, the tasks varied greatly. This is what makes our work of VFX artists exciting: each time you come across something new and unknown. I believe that many people choose this profession precisely because there is no humdrum, no feeling that you live the same groundhog day all the time. Every single day is absolutely unlike the other: first you work on a wild boar, then over an elephant, then over a flying ship in the sky. The director is an incredibly imaginative person, and all the tasks were quite complex and interesting, and this was the most important thing for me. Therefore, I cannot think of anything special.
— Tell us about your favourite movies.
— My taste in movies is quite versatile: a high-budget blockbuster, stuffed with visual effects, or an animated movie, or a movie with no effects, but some deep philosophy. So the list is pretty random. However, I have a personal quirk that stands in the way: if I am watching a movie with visual effects, I cannot watch it like a normal person, I can’t help evaluating it from a professional point of view and wondering how it was done, why it was done, and there is no end to it.
— Was there something you discovered for yourself while working on this film?
— It was probably not quite a discovery, but still—when working on a film, we always face the same problem: no matter how thorough was your planning, you always end up with too many tasks and too little time. You have but a month before the delivery, the deadline, and you still have a huge number of shots to process. Personally, I really want to believe that this experience will help me reduce, if not completely eliminate, the amount of raw material by the end of my next project. For me, this is the main problem, since technical issues can be solved, but initial planning is, of course, a much more sensitive thing,
— Please tell us about the planning. How did you use Cerebro? How quickly did the team get accustomed to it?
— It took the studios that were given the Cerebro account an average of one week to get used to the features, to audiovisual comments, to the structure, and the interface. There were no real issues; everything was smooth. When people knew we were switching from Excel to Cerebro, where everything is structured, everything is visible, the assets are stored, so everything can be downloaded from there, they realized it was really convenient and minimized the postproduction time. I think everyone was happy; it actually helped us finish this project on time. I would even say, if it were not for Cerebro, we would not have delivered it on time at all.
— Could you name the hottest features that you used every day, and also those that you used less often?
— Yes, of course. One of the most basic and hottest functions for me as a CG supervisor was audiovisual commenting in Mirada: I used it up to a hundred times per day. Of course, I did also plan some tasks, but less often; this was mainly done by our Cerebro project managers. The most important feature for me was, specifically, audiovisual commenting and the ability to track overdue critical tasks; that is, understanding what exactly needs the greatest attention at the moment. All these things that are difficult to cover at once, when you have 2,200 shots and 1,000 employees. The ability to work with them comfortably day-to-day helped us make this project.
— Perhaps, you have some suggestions as to how we could improve our product?
— Yes, I actually have something to say. There was one thing that was not so much annoying as inconvenient. I mean, not everyone has a fast Internet connection. Since the server (Cerebro file server) was in Germany, and people worked in India, in the U.S., and everywhere in the world, the file upload was taking quite some time. Sometimes it was 1, 2, 3 hours, other times—5 to 10. However, Cerebro always puts the identification bulb symbol above the list, so I click it once to be redirected to this task. But the file is still uploading! I mark it as unseen. After a while, the symbol appears above the list, again. I click it and get to the same place. These situations had me manually scroll through the bulbs to see exactly what I needed. I think it would be better if such tasks were moved to the beginning or the end of the list according to their priority. That is, the bulb should not appear above, but rather below.
Do you know what else I would improve? When working on the project, we generate a fairly large amount of statistical data. For example, how much time this particular task has taken. Like, we have a MatchMove task here. It contains 120 frames, for instance, and processing took 9 hours. If we analyze such statistical data for all tasks, Cerebro could greatly contribute to planning in the future. Having all the statistics on tasks, a database of previous projects, the system could tell how long the task would take, so that people would not have to think about it at all. I must clarify: statistics from all studios taken together would be misleading, but data within the same studio would be useful. This would cut the performance time and brought about some kind of an AI.
— Indeed a very interesting suggestion. We will definitely see about it. Thank you very much for the conversation. We wish you creative success!
— Thank you very much for the interview. And I wish you success with your product as well. It really helps.
— We are thrilled to hear this!
Here it comes! A Cerebro Road Trip to the countries of Asia. During the whole month of September we are going to visit some of most important countries of Asia, and with their help we will be able to find some new agents for our services.
We have products:
– Cerebro https://cerebrohq.com/ the environment for teamwork and learning in the Media & Entertainment industry.
– Staya http://staya.vc/en/ recruiting IT-platform like “adwords” but for Jobs.
The whole month is packed with meetings.
Our plans are:
During this days, we will show our services, personally to our agents, which can sale or support our products.
If you want to become your agent, please write to Victoria email@example.com for scheduling a meeting!
Cerebro continues publishing interviews with customers. We talk with producers, project managers, and other industry professionals. There is our new interview with Alexey Duk from PIK Group.
— We have known each other for quite a bit. You were studying architecture, am I right?
— So why did you start computer graphics?
— I am no longer involved in computer graphics, but I was once upon a time. The explanation is very simple: I graduated from the university as an architect in 1996, while computer technologies and three-dimensional computer graphics were just starting to gain popularity. They were already available to mere mortals, not hidden somewhere in secret labs of Pixar. You could buy some i386, install 3D Studio for DOS and, well, be able to sort of make stuff in 3D.
Architects tend to dig such things, because you study perspective and shadow projections for years and draw everything manually, and then you suddenly can make a computer do it in your stead and get an efficient image of your future house without any struggle. That was what got at me in the first place. I took an interest in it, and it turned out to be in high demand. My first ten years as an architect actually involved me being some kind of a visualizing architect, meaning that I was mostly engaged in computer graphics.
— What about now? As far as I know, you are more of a manager now, right?
— Yeah, I am an elderly guy after all. Ordering people around is pretty much the only thing I am capable of these days.
— How did this happen?
— Oh, this is a natural process. I believe most professions work like that: you start with doing stuff by yourself, then you have too much on your hands and they get someone to help you, etc. Then you find yourself having a whole team to manage, then you realize that you barely perform tasks anymore, because you are mostly managing. After that you know you can deal with any number of people and start managing full-time. And if you have grown in the very same industry, you are not just a manager of whatever; you are a manager in a certain field of activity. So it went.
— Let us move on to the current events. Before we talk about your company, tell me please about your sales office.
— Sales office is our headquarters, where you can buy an apartment in any our project building. We can call it an apartment store. We also have branches, usually at certain construction sites, where you can buy an apartment in the corresponding project. The sales office is where you can buy any apartment.
— So it is like a common showroom.
— Yeah, a common showroom, but also a selling one. To put it bluntly, people come here to buy a dwelling. And we have everything to accommodate them.
— Okay, so let us talk about your company in general. What is the PIK Group and what does it do?
– The PIK Group is what is called a vertically integrated structure that deals with housing development, mostly in Moscow, but also in the regions, St. Petersburg, and so on. What do we mean by vertically integrated? This means that the whole life cycle of our facilities is under our control, starting with the site, the purchase of land, further development of the project, construction, sales and maintenance, up to its dismantling sometime in the distant future.
It is all done by one company. Naturally, some stages do involve third-party contractors, but overall, the product in its entirety belongs to the PIK Group. In terms of housing volumes, we are Russia’s top developer.
— What is the company planning for the future? You are already number one in Russia, do you plan to enter Western markets or something?
— It would be precocious to talk about other markets, but we are currently expanding in the regions. We entered St. Petersburg this year.
— What do you do in the company, exactly? Which department do you manage, what are your duties?
— The company has this establishment called Design Department. This is an unusual thing, because I do not know of any other development company to have something like that, let alone something this big: it employs over a hundred people. We have it because our senior managers believe design to be crucial, and lots of US and Europe-based companies are what is called design-driven. Like, you know, Apple. The design of its products and services is essential, this is why Jonathan Ive is basically the second person in the company, since what he does is so important. We have a similar approach. We think that the appearance of us and our product has to look like the same concept in any communications.
— So you are trying to put everything under a single concept?
— That’s right, everything. Ads, marketing materials, website, facades, interiors, landscaping, framed models—those are all our doing. Also videos, souvenirs…
— I did see the magnets, yeah.
— Some exhibitions, too… Everything, one way or another, passes through our department. We have a separate unit called PIK-Projekt that directly deals with architectural design; it employs 700 architects and engineers. This is a story of its own. In the design department, I am the deputy head, responsible for administrative management. The head of the unit is mostly responsible for the beauty, while I ensure that everything happens on time and works like it should.
— Can you name your most difficult or, for example, favourite project? You probably have more of them now, especially after the acquisition of Morton.
— I do not think it is quite right to put the question like this. We, unlike some architectural bureaus or developers that build unique elite housing, deal with mass market. What is good in our product—it allows us to make affordable housing using methods that can be called industrial. This is why all architectural solutions we use are always made in the context of repeatability, typification, and so on. The more arranged and technologically similar is the product, the easier it is for us to replicate.
At the same time, we, naturally, have to struggle and make the outward appearance of various projects different, so that we do not return to what was before the transformation two and a half years ago. Everything has changed quite drastically, because the company used to build almost exact copies of its houses for 20 years, i.e. we had two series of houses, each of which contained a huge number of projects. Now we try to make houses with similar insides, but varying outward appearances.
— Yeah, so it is not quite right to single out a particular project.
— No, it is understandable to have some favourites. For example, 141 Varshavskoe Shosse was our first project under the new concept. It is already close to completion. Naturally, I call it my favourite because we learned a lot from it. It is almost ready; people will move in the last towers in autumn. It will actually be our first project in full accordance with the concept that we consider correct. All the other are still underway to some extent.
— Okay, I see. Let us talk about your work now. What kind of people, so to say, fit in your team the best? What kind of people are you most comfortable with?
— It is important for me that a person is a professional and, well, in control of themselves. I have no other requirements. Overall, I am looking for motivated people who want to work. Like I said, no other expectations.
— Then, to sum this up, the simplest question: how do people get in your company? Suppose, if we are talking about the design department.
— We publish job openings when we have them. Of course, we often find people via networking, since the field of design has a certain specificity: there are few decent professionals and you know them all. Here, too, the market is not very big, so we start with familiar faces. If it does not work, then we publish job openings.
Many people apply via Staya.vc. It is such a hassle to interview all of them. I have never had so many applicants, honestly.
— You have been using our software for a long time, and I remember you were saying, “I live in it.” How did Cerebro implementation go?
— The introduction was no problem. I think the entire launching process took less than a week. Training takes an average of a couple of hours. This is what made it appealing in the first place.
— Our customers are mostly animation studios and such. But your company is different. Why did you choose our software for managing such a complex department, and even more than one?
— It originally happened, because I used to manage a computer graphics division in another company, where we successfully used Cerebro. When we started to consider a project management system for the design department here, in the PIK Group, I did not see any problem in using Cerebro to manage not only tasks or projects related to video content production etc. Overall, it has all features for other units as well.
At the moment, for example, Cerebro is very actively used by our product department, where media content as such is virtually nonexistent.
— How exactly do you manage your daily work in Cerebro?
— Everything is quite simple. We have a customer inside the company. This is the advertising unit that sends us orders by setting tasks in Cerebro. Then our coordinator looks through these tasks and assigns vendors. In addition, we have a large schedule of our work for a year and according to this schedule, the same coordinator simply starts some tasks that need to be started under the schedule. So he starts them and also assigns vendors. This is how it happens.
In terms of quality assurance, we have several options. People who perform a certain type of tasks already know that after completion they must leave the results of their work for a certain person to approve. This person reviews the task and then passes it either further along the chain for another approval, or decides that the task is completed. Sometimes we need to further approve the task with some project managers and so on.
When the task is completed, it is sent to production. For example, if it is about printed materials, the production team takes the approved task and then marks it in Cerebro when the printed copies are ready, like, guys, we already have them printed, they are at our warehouse. This is how it goes.
— So as a rule, you have template structures, so that you can very quickly launch them into work?
— Overall, yes. The structure of the projects is approximately the same. What we are developing for each project is called an advertising and marketing package. It is a set of deliverables: website materials, booklets, advertisements, and so on. The set is roughly the same all the time. When the time comes, we need about a month to develop this package. We start the whole block of these tasks, which is already there and is, in fact, a template.
— I remember you had a very global rebranding process.
— We have already dealt with it; the rebranding is almost over. We always have some work of this kind. It was a really serious task, because a huge amount of everything needed to be done from scratch. It took almost a year, from creating a logo to developing templates of all documents, business cards, etc.
— Well, the last question. What could you recommend, as a user, to improve Cerebro?
— Having both a web version and a mobile version is basically the standard of today’s life. It is clear that without this moving forward is hardly possible. We are glad that work on this issue is already underway. The second thing concerns the overall UI. Cerebro’s interface is a bit out of this millennium, but the fact that you constantly improve its features and appearance is wonderful. We see what is happening and where this is going, and we like it.
— Thank you for your time and advice!