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How the Creators of Shōgun Use Bluescape to Unite an International Production Team

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The highly anticipated TV show trusts Bluescape to connect 400+ crew members and break barriers in remote production.

About Shōgun

Shōgun is an upcoming FX limited series based on James Clavell’s best-selling 1975 novel. The show follows a shipwrecked English sailor, an ambitious daimyo, and a mysterious female samurai as their destinies become intertwined.

Shogun FX tv show

It was previously adapted by NBC as a 1980 mini-series starring Richard Chamberlain. Justin Marks and Rachel Kondo are co-writers on the project with Marks also serving as executive producer.

Creating a rich, authentic world with a dispersed crew

In a pre-COVID world, it was much easier for costume and set designers to meet in person. Casting directors could actually shake the hands of their prospective stars. Traveling to scout locations wasn’t such a hassle. Now, studios are compelled to accomplish all of these tasks virtually. 

Set in 17th century Japan, Shōgun requires a richly detailed and historically accurate setting with an international cast. The core challenge of creating a television series of this scope in a digital-first environment is managing the quantity of content as well as the collaborators that interact with it.

When Shōgun’s geographically-dispersed production team could no longer gather in the same space, Bluescape filled in the gap.

“Bluescape lets us make mistakes faster and correct them more quickly.”
-Justin Marks, Executive Producer of Shōgun

Using Bluescape to break barriers in remote TV production

Bluescape provides an infinite virtual workspace that serves as a meeting room and story room where casting, costuming, design, and other teams can see and discuss all their content in a collaborative setting.

Shogun FX Props board

Above: Prop boards in Bluescape ensure every detail is true to the time and story. 

This view of content isn’t possible in storage solutions like Box, Microsoft One Drive, Google Drive, or in other solutions where content must be opened one file at a time. Bluescape gives the team a birds-eye view of their work and the ability to drill down to the smallest detail. By sharing work and collaborating in a virtual workspace, the Shōgun team is able to access the best talent, make faster decisions, and increase visibility for their leadership.

“If the information is not in Bluescape, it doesn’t exist.”
-Justin Marks, Executive Producer of Shōgun

With Bluescape, the Shōgun casting team is able to make decisions on talent even though they’re miles apart. The Shōgun costume team evaluated hundreds of designs at the same time, rapidly browsing, referencing, and comparing clothing options in their Bluescape workspace. In addition, Bluescape makes it easy to visualize a complete range of choices and history of decisions to easily align actions and resolve differences. 

The Shōgun team is now free to focus on sourcing the best talent regardless of where they’re located. Bluescape’s virtual workspaces make it possible to enhance the team, improve their output, and reduce production costs all at once.

Bringing the big picture to life

With Bluescape, Marks is able to quickly present workspaces created by the art, set, costume, and props departments to convey the amount of care being taken to construct a historically accurate and emotionally evocative fictional world to key stakeholders. 

Despite immense and unprecedented challenges, the Shōgun crew coordinates an interdisciplinary group of creators within a distributed environment via Bluescape. The first creative review within the Bluescape workspace gave everyone that “Aha!” moment where they could visually communicate intentions and quickly make decisions, even when spread out around the world. 

“This show would not have been possible without the technology solutions we discovered during the pandemic. Bluescape offered us a virtual meeting hall for access to people we would never have reached prior to the pandemic.”
-Justin Marks, Executive Producer of Shōgun

The immediate results have been game-changing. Even as production resumes in-person activities, Bluescape has become embedded in the process and will continue to form the foundation of creative collaboration for future productions.