Extending Perforce Helix for Widespread Adoption at Vancouver Film School

Some of the most compelling entertainment produced today is a creative mix of artistry and technical wizardry. Helix VCS provides the version management platform that lets artists and engineers collaborate on a digital movie or game, storing all 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.

What is it about Helix that Vancouver Film School likes so much?

benefits-qualitycontrol

Prevalent within the industry

solutions-version

Technically superior product

Reliable technical support

Helix 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."

 

Development Environment at a Glance

  • Company name: Vancouver Film School
  • Headquarters: Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • Industry: Education
  • Perforce customer since: 2011
  • Number of users: 2,000

 

Vancouver Film School Creatives Pick Helix

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. “Helix 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 Helix as being the most industry-relevant product for our Game Design program,” says Operations Manager & Business Applications Architect Owen Lambert.  The use of Helix in Game Design has rolled out fully, with the June 2011 graduating class being the first to use Helix 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 Helix 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 non-traditional intake model, which means that new students come in every two months. Students start using Perforce Helix 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 Helix throughout the term, and over the next two terms during project development. Each term is eight weeks long.

A Perforce Helix 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 Helix Visual Client (P4V) rather than the command-line interface.

With Helix, 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 Helix VCS to other programs within the school.

About half of the school's 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.