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HomeGearProduction Pro review

Production Pro review

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I used to be a consultant to Set Management and was instrumental in the release of ProductionPro Budget. With the firm conviction that reality should trump allegiance, this review is as unbiased as I get.What You SeeProductionPro opens in a snap, faster than any other budgeting program. The look, however, is boxy and utilitarian, as if it had been constructed from kiddie blocks on a rainy afternoon.There are three sections below the usual toolbar and icons. All can be resized down to nonexistence, but not rearranged. The budget is the largest box, alternating lines of white and blue in the lower right. Above it, a tabbed selection displays a budget recap, SubBudgets (much like Axium’s Data Sets), Fringes, Personal Agents (for tracking tax cutoffs) and Power Keys (macros). Open any tab and unearth more shades of blue than a baby shower.The last open budget opens with the program by default. Nice. There are the usual templates (charts-of-accounts minus numbers) or sample budgets, though most seem a bit outdated.What You GetGreat value in a program jammed with more features than anything close to its price tag.Budget essentials—from a quick recap to macros—are right above the budget for easy access. Fringes are grouped into folders for one-click application. Personal Agents deliver penny-accurate taxes by tracking tax cutoffs for hyphenates (like a writer-producer-director).Users can change the core identity of the entire budget structure. So if you want to post directly into the TopSheet (for some odd reason), it can be done here. (Caution: The changeover is not for the faint-hearted or the accounting-challenged.) Need to add more budget levels? There are already five, but and you can keep on creating Sub-Sub-Sub-Details for extreme breakdowns.How would you use such an exacting thing? Well, you might budget Overtime (Sub-Sub-Sub-Detail) during a Night Shoot (Sub-Sub-Detail) for the second unit (Sub-Detail) in the suburbs of Paris (Detail) in the European Sequence (Account) for the Camera Department (Category). Whew! (No, I wouldn’t do that, but the option is here.)The Library can hold anything, even an entire budget, along with Fringes and Globals. It opens directly below the budget and even includes its own navigation tree. Cut-and-paste moves data from the Library into a budget. You can have an unlimited number of Libraries, but open only one at a time.What’s GoodThe entire structure of the budget is replicated in a left-panel tree, with plus signs indicating additional budget levels. Once you get used to it, navigation is as simple as picking fruit from the tree.F1 delivers context-sensitive help most of the time, saving endless hunting. The program’s intuition is often uncanny in narrowing answers to precise problems. Not flawless, but a great start.From that same navigation tree, it’s possible to set up all sorts of program functions, too, from Production Info to Fringes, from Macros to SubBudgets.Add public or private Notes to any item anywhere—even Fringes or SubBudgets or items in the Library. That’s really helpful.Units get a stunning makeover here. Remember ordinary Units (D=Day/Days)? Forget them. These are made to do your math.Say your day (D) is 12 hours long. W is 6D and M is 4.34W. Now instantly calculate two months of wages for a worker making $22/hour. Bam. That kicks up budgeting a couple of big notches.There are columns and more columns. Fifteen in all. Some show key data (like Fringes) and others add extra math functions. Choose what you’d like to see (and use) at every budget level. Very cool, indeed.What’s BadThe program is PC-only. In today’s Mac-eat-Mac world, this should be giving major indigestion to the folks at Set Management. Big no-no.There’s no companion scheduling program and no arrangement to import anyone else’s export. That’s not a huge problem (there’s not that much to import into a budgeting program), but it’s an inconvenience.There are no tool tips alerting users to the myriad things that can be done with this program. That means you get no clues for moving through the budget. Of course you could use the tree. Or the function keys, or arrows or even a few well-aimed mouse-clicks. But who’s to ever know? Unless you’re an old hand at budgeting programs (or have read the manuals), you’ll have no idea what to do first here. Or second or third, Sorely missed.What you see is what you get. Maybe someone likes all this PPB blue; maybe someone would prefer, I don’t know, pink…? No skins, no extra icons, no toolbars. No good.Production Pro lets users drag jobs (with their rates) directly from the Rate Book into the budget. Sounds wonderful in theory, but it’s just a terrible tease. Rates are long since out of date. And while some (not all) PH&W numbers are listed, they can’t be dragged with the rates. A great feature gone very bad. Sad.Bonuses• One-click access to the internet for program updates or a quick check of currency rates.• One click from your budget to a lightening-quick PDF file. Better set up everything first; you won’t get chance once you click the button.• The full program, without any limitations, can be downloaded as a 30-day free demo.• Phone help is available, knowledgeable and free. There’s even a toll-free number for the call. Who It’s ForProductionPro is for anyone who needs a top-quality budgeting program for very few bucks. At $99, it’s practically a giveaway.Newbies could easily tough out this interface and make a fine basic budget. Anyone who enjoys digging deeper (or needs the complexity) will find a cornucopia of goodies that deliver very sophisticated results in great style.The program needs an update. But until one is forthcoming, the current version can keep anyone going for many a film.Company and Product InfoSet Management, Inc.www.setmanagement.comProductionPro Budget, v1.4.4 Build146MSRP: $99Help Desk:[email protected] in US: 877-296-4929Outside the US: 703-924-0988Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm ET

Written by Norman Berns

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