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SyncOnSet App Helps Keep Costumes, Props, Continuity in Order

It’s hard enough for viewers to sort out the hundreds of characters on HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Imagine what it’s like for the show’s costume supervisor, Sheena Wichary, who has to keep track of every stitch of clothing (including multiples of the same outfit) and their state of wear at any point in the narrative, across separate units shooting in geographically diverse locales such as Northern Ireland, Iceland, Spain, Morocco, and Croatia.

Wichary used to do things the old-fashioned way: poring over scripts with a ruler and a highlighter. But three seasons ago, she went high-tech with a cloud-based application for the web and smart devices that uses a software algorithm to automate the script-breakdown process. The program, called SyncOnSet, sorts out characters with “all the costume changes and our budget
from episodes one to 10,” says Wichary. “This would ordinarily be a two-man job involving weeks of work.”

SyncOnSet is not just for costumes. It enables film and TV projects to track virtually all below-the-line continuity and assets, including hair, makeup, props, set decorations, and locations. It also allows for the secure sharing of photos.

The accomplishment has not gone unnoticed by the Television Academy, which is honoring SyncOnSet with an Engineering Emmy on Oct. 26.

The company has experienced a rapid rise. It was founded in 2012 by Brett Beaulieu-Jones, Jeffrey Impey, and Alexander LoVerde just 10 months after they’d finished their undergrad studies. (They’re now all 27.)

The inspiration came when Impey and a friend tried to find out what kind of sunglasses Jason Statham’s character was wearing in the 2011 remake of “The Mechanic.” After an online search failed to turn up the info, they began exploring the possibility of launching an online resource to catalogs cool stuff in films and TV shows. Their research led them to a costume designer who showed them her production database: a three-ring binder.

“When we saw the binder, we thought two things. One was that there’s a lot of valuable content stuffed in this thing,” recalls LoVerde. “And wow, this can’t possibly be the most efficient way to manage a multimillion-dollar department on a multimillion dollar production.”

Securing seed money, the trio hunkered down in a Boston apartment, and by July 2012 they had developed a beta version of SyncOnSet. Joseph La Corte, costume supervisor on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” tried it out. Impressed, he sent an email to colleagues, and soon it was in use on other productions, including “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “30 Rock,” and “Nurse Jackie.”

SyncOnSet also caught the attention of Rose Park Advisors and several other venture capitalist concerns, which have invested $5.5 million in the company.

Today, SyncOnSet has 23 employees in Boston and Los Angeles and has been used on 2,500 feature films and TV series.

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