Case study

Perforce case study: Vancouver Film School

This is one of the many case studies World Wind Writing has produced for Perforce. Find the complete article here.

Perforce Vancouver Film School case study

Vancouver Film School Creatives Pick Perforce

Some of the most compelling entertainment produced today is a creative mix of artistry and technical wizardry. Perforce provides the version management platform that lets artists and engineers collaborate on a digital movie or game, storing all of their work from initial sketches through to rendered video. A new partnership with Vancouver Film School makes Perforce’s industry-leading enterprise version management tools available to the next generation of creators, with 2,000 educational licenses provided free of charge.

Vancouver Film School offers 13 post-secondary programs spanning every aspect of the entertainment arts; each one-year program balances theory with hands-on production. Its graduates regularly go on to make major waves, such as the recent motion picture Hanna, scripted at VFS by then-student Seth Lochhead in 2004.

“One of the constants at VFS is to ensure that, whenever possible, we emulate the real world within our educational model,” says VFS Managing Director Marty Hasselbach. “Perforce is so prevalent throughout the industry, it goes without saying that we needed it integrated here. We’re happy that through this partnership we’ve been able to do just that.”

“Our faculty specifically requested Perforce as being the most industry-relevant product for our Game Design program,” says Owen Lambert, Operations Manager & Business Applications Architect. The use of Perforce in Game Design has rolled out fully, with the June 2011 graduating class being the first to use Perforce to both track their project deliverables and learn the production skills that will earn them higher salaries upon graduation.

“We evaluated open source options such as Subversion and Git but found that not only was Perforce a technically superior product, it also came from a commercial partner we can rely on for solid support of our student experience,” says Lambert.

An All-Around Agile Model

VFS Game Design is unusual not only for its one-year curriculum, but also in its nontraditional intake model, which means that new students come in every two months. Students start using Perforce during Term 4 Technical Design (six months into their 12-month program). This is where they establish groups, develop group project prototypes, and evaluate technical requirements. They then continue using Perforce throughout the term, and over the next two terms during project development. Each term is eight weeks long.

A Perforce class brings students up to speed. “We have a Senior Instructor who is our resident expert in Perforce, and he spends an hour walking through it in class, along with other things having to do with the pipeline,” says Lambert. “Then there are four hours of mentor time. It’s easy to spot the students who aren’t doing it properly; they say they can’t find their files.” So far, the students use the Perforce visual client rather than the command line interface.

With Perforce, VFS students learn source management, data security, how to develop logical workflows, change tracking, and accountability for their work. “One of the things we’re teaching is how to make mistakes correctly and be able to roll back,” says Lambert. “It’s ludicrous to assume you’re going to go on to the job and never make a mistake.”

Continuing Deployment at VFS

With the success of the Game Design program attracting attention, VFS is preparing to extend Perforce to other programs within the school.

About half of the schools tracks are technical, and half more holistic (Film Production, Makeup Design for Film & Television, and Writing for Film & Television, for example). While the Writing program may not have as rigorous a need for version control, Lambert believes “it’s not a huge leap to say we could load in scripts.” He also thinks that web programming, digital design, motion graphics, and traditional print media will be part of “a really clean build-out”—and that could mean a faster road to box-office success.

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