THE NETHERLANDS — Dennis Kleyn is the CEO of Dutch VFX studio Planet X, which he founded in 2004. In addition to overseeing day-to-day business and operations at the studio, he is also the co-founder of ReadySet Studios, one of the first virtual production/ICVFX LED stages in the Netherlands, which launched earlier this year.
Kleyn recently talked with Post about his career as a VFX supervisor, and what led him to the development of Setellite, a productivity solution for the reporting and sharing of VFX data.
Tell us about your background in film and VFX, and what made you expand your area of interest?
“I graduated from the Dutch (Amsterdam) Film Academy in 2002 as a director. After two years of mainly directing commercials and music videos, I realized VFX was my true passion, and I switched my career focus. Starting at the dining table in my home, Planet X today is the largest VFX studio in the Netherlands, focusing on episodic and feature productions.
“Until a few years ago, I handled the VFX supervision for at least two productions a year, but my current role has shifted more towards the management of both our Planet X VFX studio, our software tech division, Planet X Technologies, and ReadySet Studios."
How did Planet X come to decide to create the Setellite productivity solution? And why is this type of tool so important to VFX workflows?
“Back in 2012, when our creative team at Planet X was looking for a solution to manage our on-set VFX data, the choices were limited. So, we established Planet X Technologies to develop a productivity platform for our needs. We analyzed our paper reports and workflow, and translated them into a digital version called Setellite. After our internal success using the platform, several years later, we began offering it commercially. Today we are pleased that Setellite is the most widely used on-set VFX productivity solution for the reporting and sharing of VFX data.”
Can you give us some insight into the technology behind Setellite? What other software tools is it used with?
“Setellite is an on-set VFX data collection and management tool designed for VFX data wranglers, VFX supervisors and production crews whose primary concerns are speed, efficiency and keeping data secure. It offers extensive realtime collaborative project-sharing features to collect critical on-set shot data that can be easily modified and shared with key stakeholders during — or after — production. Users can prep their work even before shooting starts, as soon as details about the shoot become available, and [adjust] while on-set.
“Setellite consists of an iPad app and web client, and allows users to work in realtime with others on the same project — all data and changes are synchronized. Setellite’s workflow is built around creating digital forms linked to the system of slates and takes routinely used on film and television production sets worldwide, and in post production afterward. The app uses smart logic to empower users with an end-to-end, cloud-based workflow to manage such things as camera and lens information; contextual references, such as light placement, weather, location, movement of talent in a shot; and other film-related details.
“Although currently in beta, we offer our Setellite Studio subscription members the ability to connect directly to the popular Autodesk ShotGrid production management and review toolset.”
What are some of the most recent enhancements made to the Setellite platform?
“We recently released the latest version of Setellite, which includes significant workflow enhancements and refinements, feature upgrades and organization advantages. These include such things as improved realtime collaboration and synching capabilities. We also launched a redesigned web client, for a more intuitive interface to maximize users’ VFX data collection experiences, and updates to our cloud-based Setellite subscription service."
Are you seeing trends in on-set VFX data collection?
“With the growth in the use of in-camera VFX, we still see a need in the industry for on-set data collection. Although the objective of virtual production is to leave the studio with ‘final pixel,’ capturing on-set data could be helpful for any post-related work that might still be required. Most ICVFX studios can capture the metadata through, among other things, the realtime tracking solution they most likely facilitate, but contextual/peripheral information, such as light setups, movement and distances of talent, etc., could be more evidently captured. In cases like these, a tool like Setellite could be used to manage this data. And, we will be looking at this more closely in our development efforts."