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VFX shots database - Display VFX plates as sub records (in sub rows)

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Jesus_Perez-Mir
5 - Automation Enthusiast
5 - Automation Enthusiast

Hello, I've been using Airtable to create VFX shot lists for feature films and scripted TV series.

I find it very useful to display general information (VFX name, Description, Status, etc.), as you can see in the example below:

Airtable - VFX database - General info.png

But in some productions, they need me to add specific info for every VFX plate that is part of a particular VFX shot (sometimes it's just one plate, but in some instances there are many). This is pretty easy to achieve using Spreadsheet software (see below):

Spreadsheet - VFX database - Detailed plate info.png

But I'm having a hard time to replicate this simple organisation and layout in Airtable.

As you can see, some fields are common for all three plates (Thumbnail, VFX Shot Name, Description), but other fields are specific for each plate (Plate Name, Video track, Plate Duration, Source Clip Info, etc.)

I've tried different options in Airtable, like Grouping records, linking records and Lookup fields, but I can't manage to accomplish what I want:

  • Is there a way to create a main record in Airtable and add subrecords to it?
  • Would it be possible to display the information for every subrecord in a separate row (in Grid View), without expanding the main record view?

I would like to be able to create more complex VFX database like this in Airtable... But it doesn't seem to be designed for this. I'd appreciate if anybody could give me some advice about this, so I don't have to go back to using Spreadsheet software.

Thanks in advance!

Jesús

5 Replies 5

Hm, I think you're going to need to use the List view for this I'm afraid.  May I know why you can't use the List view?  Maybe we can find a way around that instead

Jesus_Perez-Mir
5 - Automation Enthusiast
5 - Automation Enthusiast

Oops, I wasn't familiar with List view... Thanks for the suggestion, Adam!

It seems like it would allow me to accomplish what I want. In this example, I have created 2 separate tables:

Table 1. VFX ELEMENTS: with the specific plate/layer info (Plate Name, Description, Source Tape, Timecode, Lens, etc.)

Airtable - VFX Elements - Table.png

Table 2. VFX SHOTS: with the general shot info (VFX ID, Thumbnail, VFX Description, Status, Notes). In this table I've created a "Link to another record" field (called VFX ELEMENTS) to be able to links each VFX Shot to its corresponding Plate/s from the "VFX ELMENTS" table.

Airtable - VFX Shots - Table.png

Then, I went to the VFX ELEMENTS Table and created a List View with the following levels:

Airtable - VFX Elements Table - List View - Levels.png

As a result, I ended up with this:

Airtable - VFX database - Detailed plate info in List View.png

This seems like a viable approach, but I find some disadvantages to it:

  • The thumbnail image becomes really small in List view... Would it be possible to display it as a large image on the left side?
  • I can no longer group VFX shots by Status or Episode (a very useful function to track progress on all the different shots), because the Group menu doesn't show me Fields from the VFX SHOTS Table (only Fields from the VFX ELEMENTS Table, where I created the List View).
  • Even if you choose the "Short" row height, this View takes up too much vertical space... If I need to print out this view in PDV, I end up with way too many pages, so it's not ideal.

Is there any other way to go about this? Thanks!

re: The thumbnail image becomes really small in List view... Would it be possible to display it as a large image on the left side?

Ahh, I dont think so I'm afraid
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re: I can no longer group VFX shots by Status or Episode (a very useful function to track progress on all the different shots), because the Group menu doesn't show me Fields from the VFX SHOTS Table (only Fields from the VFX ELEMENTS Table, where I created the List View).

I believe once you display the "Status" field from the "VFX Shots" table inside your list it should appear as a grouping option

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re: Even if you choose the "Short" row height, this View takes up too much vertical space... If I need to print out this view in PDV, I end up with way too many pages, so it's not ideal.

Yeah fair enough.  If this is only an issue during printing, would it be possible to use the Page Designer extension (or some other printing tool such as DocsAutomator, etc) to create a printable view instead?  That way you'd have one setup optimized for you to work on the data and one setup optimized for printing

Jesus_Perez-Mir
5 - Automation Enthusiast
5 - Automation Enthusiast

re: I believe once you display the "Status" field from the "VFX Shots" table inside your list it should appear as a grouping option

As you can see in the screenshot below, the "Status" from the "VFX Shots" table is displayed in my list, but the Group menu doesn't show that field (only fields from the "VFX Elements" table), which is a shame.

Airtable - VFX Elements Table - List View - Grouping.png

On the other hand, the Filter menu does let you pick fields from any Level within the List view (see below). So I'm not sure why the Grouping function is limited to Level 1 fields.

Airtable - VFX Elements Table - List View - Filtering.png

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re: If this is only an issue during printing, would it be possible to use the Page Designer extension (or some other printing tool such as DocsAutomator, etc) to create a printable view instead?

Thanks for the suggestion, Adam. But I'm still on the Free plan so I don't have access to Extensions or Tools... Honestly, all of this seems more trouble than it's worth. It's like I'm trying to force Airtable to become something it wasn't really designed for... Likely, it would take more time and effort to make Airtable work for my needs than using a trusty old Spreadsheet for complex VFX lists like this.

Anyway, many thanks for all your input an ideas.

Weird! I think our setups must be different somehow; I'm able to group by level 2 statuses like so:

Screenshot 2024-04-29 at 5.55.23 PM.png
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re: Spreadsheets

Yeah...moving an existing workflow from a spreadsheet into Airtable's pretty tricky, and it sounds like you've got a pretty nice setup with your existing spreadsheet