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What Is Cinergy? 

Many people have discovered the power of the Cinergy Motion Picture Production System, and successfully incorporated this product into their daily work.   But in case you've heard the name and aren't quite sure how it fits into your particular situation, this article should help bring the big picture into better focus. 

Mindstar Productions first released the Cinergy Motion Picture Production System (a.k.a. Cinergy MPPS and Cinergy 2000) in 1995.   Cinergy is an "integrated" production management system sold in 4 parts, called modules, consisting of Budgeting, Scheduling, On-Set Shot Logging, and Post Production modules.  At first glance, many people initially equate Cinergy MPPS with Movie Magic Budgeting and/or Movie Magic Scheduling.  Although that analogy is accurate, it doesn't take long before you realize that Cinergy is much more than that.

Cinergy Scheduling

Cinergy Scheduling starts with the revolutionary approach of reading (importing) a copy of your script into Cinergy, and extracting some fundamental information automatically.  This process, the first of it's kind in any scheduling package, tells Cinergy know how many scenes are defined, and the set and characters required for each scene.   Cinergy imports scripts written in Final Draft, Movie Magic Screenwriter, Script Thing, Scriptware, and even RTF files written in Microsoft Word. 

Immediately after importing the script, Cinergy has what it needs to display all the breakdown sheets and the stripboard.   But before you conclude that you can move ahead without a UPM or AD, consider this: although Cinergy has given you a head start, an experienced human still has to review and add to the breakdown screens, expanding on the information automatically extracted from the script.  For example, special props may need to be added to each scene, or unique extras may need to be included which are not explicitly identified in the script.  For this, Cinergy has a Script Viewer function that allows you to view the imported script and add to the breakdown sheets manually.   Using its unique point-and-click method, words can be selected from the script and assigned to the appropriate breakdown category, or you can add your own user-defined items to the breakdown that don't appear in the script at all. 

Cinergy Scheduling can then sort your scenes in the stripboard, grouping sets together and building a preliminary shooting order.  Of course, you can also drag & drop the strips manually as desired.  Once you're satisfied with the shooting sequence, you can use the "Automatic Days" function to add day separators to your stripboard.  Simply specify how many pages you want to shoot per day, and the day separators automatically appear.  Now Cinergy has what it needs to print Call Sheets, Day Out Of Days, One Line Schedules, Shooting Schedules, and departmental lists like props, wardrobe, stunts, and many others.  

Cinergy can also store the names and contact information for your entire cast and crew, and send email directly from inside Cinergy to one or more people in your project contact list.  The Cinergy Mail Center and contact lists are available for use with all Cinergy application modules, not just Scheduling.

Cinergy Budgeting

Cinergy Budgeting starts out with a blank budget spreadsheet, but several studio chart of accounts templates are available in the base package.   If your company is not included in the base set of templates, you can define your own chart of accounts and use the template in any future budgets you wish.   Cinergy Budgeting includes the commonly used features for fringes, variables and equations.   You can even set up equations that pull information directly from the schedule; one of the benefits of using an integrated package.  For example, the number of shooting days can be set up manually, or pulled directly from the stripboard.   If you want, Cinergy can automatically modify the budget if you ever go back and change the number of shooting days in the stripboard.  

Cinergy also includes a Labor Rate Browser program, available in two flavors.  First, people who purchase the Cinergy Budgeting module automatically get the labor rate program both as an integrated component of Cinergy Budgeting, and as a standalone program that can be used even when you aren't running Cinergy.   Quarterly data updates are sold for a nominal fee.   If you don't yet own Cinergy Budgeting, you can purchase the standalone labor rate browser with one quarter of labor rate data included.  The standalone Labor Rate Browser runs under all versions of Windows, and Mac OS X Jaguar or later. 

Cinergy On-Set Shot Logging

The On-Set Shot Logging module can be used independently, or in conjunction with the pre-production modules.  If you used Cinergy in pre-production to schedule your show, then you give the shot logger and/or script supervisor a huge gift by having already established scene descriptions and an imported script.   The script supervisor can then use a laptop or tablet computer to log each shot into the Cinergy On-Set module.   Cinergy On-Set tracks shot numbers, shot descriptions, camera rolls, sound reels, camera time, action time, and other critical information for each shot.  Any scene descriptions entered by the AD or UPM in pre-production are visible to the script supervisor, allowing a clear understanding of where you are in the script.  Even planned shots can be entered so the director can be sure to get every shot he or she envisioned.  If you're shooting in HiDef or 24P, you can connect your computer to one of several supported timecode readers, quickly and seamlessly adding timecode to the shot log.  At the end of each day, Cinergy can print a lined script and detailed shot log for the editor.  The log can be printed or saved in Adobe PDF format so that people who don't have Cinergy can still look at the reports.  (A feature available for all reports printed out of Cinergy.) 

Extensive work was done during development to ensure that the shot logging functions were easily accessible in the fast paced environment on the set. The developers actually worked on several movie sets to test the ergonomics of the system layout. 

Cinergy Post Production

If you add the Cinergy Post Production module to the script supervisor' computer, or provide Cinergy Post Production to your editor, then a unique output format becomes available to you.   The shot log can be saved in some special formats designed for use by Avid, Media-100, and Final Cut editing systems.  Using these special output formats, your editor can import the entire shot log digitally, eliminating the need to transcribe hand-written or even computer printed notes into the non-linear editing system.  The digital log can even be emailed to the editor, and a hardcopy can be included with your camera roll along with the camera report, completing the circle of information collected from pre-production and on the set. 

If you're shooting on film, then Cinergy can import the Flex file you get from your telecine transfer session, integrating the Flex file data with the data logged by the script supervisor, creating an accurate and complete batch digitize list.   This feature alone can save thousands in post production. 

How Can I See It?

A 15-day fully functional trial copy (including save & print) is available from the Mindstar web site at http://www.MindstarProds.com.  Support is provided through email and even through MSN and Yahoo instant messenger chat sessions.  Studio production plans are available, including premium support options and on-site training.  For more information, contact Mindstar Productions or one of their authorized distributors.

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