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Studio management software, what do you use?

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Mark Suszko
Studio management software, what do you use?
on Mar 6, 2009 at 8:06:51 pm

We're kicking the tires on three apps for booking/scheduling/coordinating software:

ScheduAll Edge,
Xytechsystems entry-level Express product,
and Studiosuite8.

If you use one of these, what do you have to say about any of them, pro or con? Is there another similar product we should look over?


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Brendan Coots
Re: Studio management software, what do you use?
on Mar 6, 2009 at 9:53:50 pm

Management software is useless unless it fits your workflow (provided you HAVE a workflow), rather than force you to use a one-size-fits-all pattern with features that you would never need. Does your studio really operate the same way that CNBC does? Or the way a feature film crew does? I doubt it. Unfortunately most commercial "studio management" apps seem to assume everyone does work the same and will need/use the same set of tools in the same way.

I would also consider this fact of life - as counter-intuitive as it may seem, you will have a tough time getting everyone (yourself included) to actively use the software even if it fits your needs beautifully. Picking one that doesn't fit might result in it never getting used, simply because it's seen as an obstacle.

To this end, we built our own management application using Filemaker Pro. For the same price as one of the commercial apps you could probably pay a FM developer to build out something similar, only custom-tailored to exactly what YOU need. What's more, if you ever need a new feature you can build it (or pay to have it built) very easily.

I like that flexibility, but others may prefer a prefab option. Just make sure whatever tool you buy fits your workflow and needs very well or you may just throw a ton of cash away needlessly.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

http://www.splitvisiondigital.com


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walter biscardi
Re: Studio management software, what do you use?
on Mar 7, 2009 at 11:35:19 am

[Brendan Coots] "To this end, we built our own management application using Filemaker Pro. For the same price as one of the commercial apps you could probably pay a FM developer to build out something similar, only custom-tailored to exactly what YOU need."

Precisely what we're doing right now. I had an FM developer create two custom databases two years ago for two massive tape libraries we manage, and he's creating a custom job tracking system for our workflow as we speak. We're testing it out right now and it's much cheaper than purchasing an off the shelf product.

FM is not all that expensive and they have a deal right now I believe where you get 5 licenses for the price of 4. I just did that last week to upgrade and add FM Pro to all our workstations.



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

Read my Blog!

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!


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Mark Suszko
Re: Studio management software, what do you use?
on Mar 7, 2009 at 4:05:39 pm

Um, Walter, StudioSuite8 *is* Filemakerpro, with a custom interface already written on top of it. Sounds a lot like what you're describing already. If you could watch their demo video some time and tell me where your system differs, that could teach me a lot about what other facilities look for.

SS8 looks to be the least expensive of the three so far, about fifteen hundred to fit out our little shop. You may recognize one of the other two programs by an older name, Zymox?


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walter biscardi
Re: Studio management software, what do you use?
on Mar 7, 2009 at 4:17:21 pm

[Mark Suszko] "Um, Walter, StudioSuite8 *is* Filemakerpro, with a custom interface already written on top of it. Sounds a lot like what you're describing already. If you could watch their demo video some time and tell me where your system differs, that could teach me a lot about what other facilities look for. "

It is made for Filemaker but has a lot of what I don't need in my particular situation. All the contacts, financials, calendar etc... I already have and don't want it to be a part of my studio management software. What I really need here is a job tracking to keep track of all the people, assets and time involved in each project. This is open to all my staff and freelancers so they can enter the data as they go.

I could probably lock out the financials and contacts from this database but it's just too much information for what I need. The custom database is cheaper for our needs and is being modified specifically for my company.

For an off the shelf product, that is probably one of the best ones I've seen, but still not something I would purchase for my own particular needs.



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

Read my Blog!

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!


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Mark Raudonis
Re: Studio management software, what do you use?
on Mar 7, 2009 at 5:40:37 pm

We've had SS8 for a few years now, but I have to agree with Walter... it's got "TMI".

The value of this kind of program will ONLY be realized if EVERYONE is using it. In our case, that would
mean every editor in every room logging in and adding their info on a daily basis.

Bottom line, I like the program. Getting everyone to really use it has been an uphill struggle.

I think Walter's approach of developing exactly what we want rather than conforming to what's available is a good way to go. You'll get a custom solution that addresses your real needs.

Frankly, I do more with my own Excel spread sheet than any of these programs. That one "dashboard" gives me all the info I need.

Mark





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Steve Kownacki
Re: Studio management software, what do you use?
on Mar 7, 2009 at 7:06:56 pm

We're a small company - 2 edit suites, an audio room, a graphics room, location production are the 5 key items I track - along with staff and freelancers. I simply use my contact manager ACT!. I color code those items on the calendar and then attach the client and personnel from the contact database. I can adjust the durations, so at a glance I know what's happening on a given day at any time. You can network the database to multiple users and display only certain types of events if you wish. Then as you cross them off, you get a history for a contact. It does not tie into my Quickbooks billing in any way, so I use it to cross-reference the worksheet for each project and compare that to my bid to see if we're on track when a job is done. I can also quickly check freelance hours against their invoice. Been working with ACT! for over 10 years and to me is very efficient without a major investment in software, time, or learning curve.

Here's a sample of what a weekly calendar may look like.


Steve



Jump to the FFP Website



View Steve Kownacki's profile on LinkedIn




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Chris Blair
Re: Studio management software, what do you use?
on Mar 7, 2009 at 7:12:34 pm

We had a local IT company develop a studio management app that is just a custom interface on top of Microsoft Access. There are things I love about it and things I hate about it, but it works, is customizable as we grow (or shrink), and allows us to put as much or as little information about projects as needed. We've never gotten to the point of keeping project billing/time logs on it, but it's built to do that.

This was 5 years ago...and at the time, we looked at the custom software out there and it was just too expensive and when we demo'd them, they just didn't fit our workflow.



Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Bill Davis
Re: Studio management software, what do you use?
on Mar 9, 2009 at 11:34:47 pm

Just a support comment about Filemaker Pro.

I started using it almost 15 years ago and it's great for customizing just what you need to track and eliminate what a DB designer designing for the masses THOUGHT you would need.

If you don't want to develop your solutions yourself, there's a robust community of Filemaker consultants who can help for projects like this.

If you wanted to develop a solution for yourself in conjunction with a database consultant, I might suggest first buying a copy of a simple flow-chart/diagramming program (I use Omni-Graffle on a Mac) and use it to visually design out what you want your database to do. Then hand that over to the DB designer. It's a great bridge between us visual types and the linear types that tend to make good DB coders.

Just a suggestion.



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terence curren
Re: Studio management software, what do you use?
on Mar 10, 2009 at 9:10:57 pm

StudioSuite here. We heavily use the calendar, library, and equipment modules.

Terence Curren
http://www.alphadogs.tv
http://www.digitalservicestation.com
Burbank,Ca


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Mark Suszko
Re: Studio management software, what do you use?
on Mar 11, 2009 at 2:36:28 am

Thanks Terence, can you expand on any of that without giving up anything personal or proprietary? Likes, dislikes, how many have full access and how many just see the results in their MS Outlook or iCal calendars? What you'd like to change or improve?


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Terence Curren
Re: Studio management software, what do you use?
on Mar 11, 2009 at 6:26:08 am

We're still using the older version, but have slated an upgrade to the current version this year. That adds a few more features and will simplify using it for billing also. On the PC side, that info can be exported directly to Quickbooks.

For the library module, we use to label and track tapes, DVDs, etc. We bought a barcode scanner to make the whole process fly.

Inventory on all gear is well laid out. You can enter all the details about the gear down to where you bought it, what you paid, what it is currently worth (Useful for running insurance lists), it's service record (and you can set it to flag you for regular maintenance), Which room is booked with , etc.

There is a built in patchbay module with templates for most patchbays that you will ever need.

Overall, we are happy with it. Issues I do have are resolved in the new version. You do need to purchase Filemaker for every system you will run it on, and Filemaker Server if you plan to network it. Don't forget to add that to your cost calculations.

Terence Curren
http://www.alphadogs.tv
http://www.digitalservicestation.com
Burbank,Ca


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