When creating award-winning projects for high-profile clients like Mercedes Benz and IKEA, staying organized is key. Production timelines continue to tighten and studios need to be as flexible as possible. For nhb studios, a studio awash in tools, the answer was NIM, an all-in-one studio management platform that helped the company speed up every part of the production process, from projects to people.
nhb started their exploration into NIM through its bidding and financial tools. As the inputs came in from artists and producers, Tran was able to access detailed views of the actuals in real time, without having to manually input and track numbers in Excel. After that, the company adopted it across departments and now applies it to all incoming projects.
How did you discover NIM? What made it different from other production tools?
“We played around with a lot of other solutions for many years, but they needed a lot of coding and were built around a more rigid idea of pipeline. TV commercials are like working at a startup. One comment and the whole project can change,” says Quang Tran, head of nhb Berlin. “NIM helped us break down the physical and organizational barriers that were preventing flexibility. Now, we can easily utilize our entire network, bringing together the best talent for each project.”
Four separate locations and a wide network of on- and off-site producers, directors, designers, animators and composers have helped nhb become one of the top production houses in Germany. Equally well known as a talented one-stop-shop and partner of renowned VFX studio The Mill, nhb currently specializes in advertising projects, ranging from luxury automobiles to brand work for Coca-Cola, Volkswagen and eBay.
What NIM features are you currently using and how is it useful for VFX professionals and artists?
“The first feature we put into heavy production was bidding. We were Excel-based before NIM, which is incredibly inefficient. So much so that an executive consultant friend of mine once told me that whenever he gets into a company and sees a monitor with Excel on it, he just says, ‘these processes need to be optimized’ and writes a bill. Once we brought our bidding process into NIM, we dramatically sped up bidding for our clients in a matter of days.”
“Later on, we delved more into the project forecast features of NIM, which opened up a better, higher-level understanding of the project much earlier in the process. From there, we adopted file and version management to Nuke and Flame, which is now the main setup we use. On the artist side, it brings the usual benefits of a pipeline tool: no file browsing, version and change management. You don’t need to bother with where to render to, naming conventions, etc. Projects are being published from Flame, which acts as the main production hub at nhb. Together with the connected conform feature for Flame, we’re seamlessly getting plates and shots into NIM, so everyone in the production process can start immediately. This is especially helpful for the producers, who do task management in NIM. Additionally, we maintain an open dialogue with the team from NIM Labs, so we’re happy to see that many of our ideas and suggestions have made it into later versions of the product.”
NIM was different. We immediately felt that this tool was made in a production business like ours.
Created by studio pros, NIM was designed to cover the entire studio spectrum from projects to profitability. With tools like timecards and reviews in one place, nhb has been able to connect their offices into a central hub, gaining real-time feedback from artist inputs and NIM’s visual aids. “All the functionality and options were door openers for us,” says Tran. “And we could use it right off the shelf.”
How does NIM speed up a studio’s production and management process?
“NIM offers us a high-level view over the bidding process, as well as the production itself. The smart part for us, is that there is no real barrier from bidding to production. Bidding data is taken into production, so we can directly pull actuals for each project. Task management is also nice, so large teams can just concentrate on their tasks.”
As nhb continues to stream information into the system, NIM becomes a living database filled with timelines, storyboards, watchouts, graphs and project notes that nhb can use to make informed decisions about current and future projects. “At this point, it’s like a project wiki,” said Tran. “At any moment, I can get a real-time view into the status of the studio, whether I’m trying to track profitability across projects or reactivate a project down the line. The more we feed in, the more we get out.”
With NIM Connectors, nhb has established a live link to industry-standard tools like Nuke and Flame, providing even more up-to-date information as artists work. The Nuke Connector, in particular, brought the onboarding process of freelance Nuke artists down to just five minutes, opening up new efficiencies around remote work. Once jobs started, the Connector took file and naming conventions out of artists’ hands, saving the team hours of time formerly lost to accidental errors.
“It seems like a bit of magic,” says Tran, “why one tool works and another doesn’t. NIM gives us a simple structure that we can easily adapt from project to project, instead of something we have to maintain through code. And that lets us scale faster than we ever have before.”
Visit NIM Labs online to sign up for a free 30-day trial.
About NIM Labs
NIM Labs are the creators of NIM, the world’s first studio management software. Incubated at Ntropic, NIM Labs consists of creative directors and studio heads who want to centralize the most common challenges studios face, from finances to production tracking, so teams can stay more informed, more profitable and more engaged in their work. NIM is currently used at Digital Domain, Intelligent Creatures, Ayzenberg, Logan, Taylor James, Aaron Sims Creative, Lockheed Martin and more. NIM Labs is headquartered in LA. For more information, visit: https://nim-labs.com.
About nhb studios
As a full-service post-production network, nhb studios is a partner to respected advertising agencies and film production companies on an international level. Partnerships with, for example, The Mill for color grading give access to a top-notch portfolio of artists. nhb studios is headquartered in Germany, with locations in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Dusseldorf. For more information, visit: http://www.nhb.de.