Week 06: Technical department

The Technical department makes the software tools to enable the artists to work efficiently and creates a smooth pipeline

Effects techincal director (FX TD)

Visual Effects Technical Directors (FX TD) work on set to ensure that elements such as explosions and action sequences work within the VFX parameters required from the footage. They assist the director in capturing a scene that will work most effectively for the VFX team and then lead the team through the post-production process.

FX TD’s best skill mainly is being a problem-solver, staying up-to-date with the latest researches and techniques, and pushing technological boundaries to find ways to make directors’ visions a reality on screen.

They often work on set to ensure the footage is filmed in the best way for VFX to be inserted in post-production and create code for customized tools required for the production.

Their responsibilities are:

  • Collaborating with supervisors to reach best filming conditions for the FX sewuences requiring particle and fluid effects
  • Researching the look of effects based on the briefing
  • Maintaining visual consistency throughout the pipeline
  • Advising on set what needs to be caputres in-camera for post-production
  • Writing code and deal with complex effects
  • Integrating special effects into live action footage
  • Problem solving during production and ppost-production
  • Working to deliver the director’s vision

To fit this role you must have a strong knowledge of filmmaking and post-production to be able to integrate special effects into live-action footage. Therefore, an FX TD’s “skills set” must include:

  • VFX career training and high level portfolio or demo reel
  • Knowledge of photography
  • Keen eye for detail
  • Have a good understanding of physics in order to make procedural effects belivable
  • Overcome obstacles
  • High level of technical ability using a variety of software
  • Communicate properly with the VFX’s team, offer support and take direction from a VFX Supervisor.

FX TDs work under the management of a VFX Supervisor.

Web reference



Assistant techincal director

The Assistant Technical Director help identifies and fixes problems, making sure everyone has the tools they need for the pipeline. They supervise production and technical crews composed of student and temporary employees and act as the Technical Director’s representative when the Technical Director is unavailable.

Their expertise includes understanding the software used by VFX artists and how VFX pipelines work. As matter of fact, Assistant TDs assist Pipeline TDs, design solutions to problems, and use coding skills to create tools that VFX artists need.

As well as the Data Capture Technician, their role is responsible for data management, achieving, restoring, and tracking data and converting resizing files where needed.

ATDs essential duties are:

  • Provide technical advice and support for artists
  • Monitor render farm, disk usage and file transfers between sites
  • Contibute to testing and feedback for software releases
  • Monitor the project within time and budget

An ATD must be good at:

  • Be helpfulla nd patient with a variety of staff to understand their needs
  • Work well as part of the team
  • Assist technical issues and think analytically to come up with creative and efficient solutions quickly
  • Keen eye foor detail when designing tools and fixing issues
  • Stroong knowledge of all jobs within the pipeline and all the challenges they may face
  • Have advanced undestanding of programming in python and C++
  • very high level of techincal ability using a variety of relevant software as used in the project as Maya, Houdini, and Nuke

ATD works under Pipeline TDs and closely with data input/output technicians to develop solutions.

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Software Developer

Software developers are the creative minds behind software programs, and they have the technical skills to build those programs or to oversee their creation by a team. They create software or systems which TDs can use and modify to suit VFX artists’ need.

Software developers must stay updated about software and technology, managing to help find innovative ways to enable artists within the pipeline to complete their work as fast as well as possible.

Developers can work in systems software or applications. Their duties are similar in any case tho.

  • Develop and test software to meet consumers’ and clients’ needs
  • Recommend and develop upgrades for existing applications
  • Create models and diagrams to show programmers the code needed for applications
  • Monitor quality and performance through testing and mainenance
  • Document all work for future reference

Their required skills:

  • Communicate well with pipeline techincal directors as weel as directly with a variety of staff
  • Undestand the needs of those figures and assist them with techical issues
  • Work well as part of a team to develop solutions
  • Great problem-solving skills
  • Think analytically and come up with creativve solutions
  • Strong knowledge of programming in Python and C++
  • High level of ability on Maya, Houdini and Nuke
  • Knowledge of all part of the pipeline
  • Create an apporpirate development plan and stick to a timescale
  • Understand how to breakdown a project into tasks

Software developers work closely with TDs throughout the VFX pipeline.

Web reference



Pipeline Technical directors

Pipeline Technical Directors are responsible for writing and maintaining tools that will be used in a VFX/Animation Production, and for further developing the pipeline for future shows.

Pipeline technical directors will provide direct help to Artists and aid in solving pipeline-related problems providing all the tools they need to complete their part of the project to the best standard possible.

By communicating with VFX artists, they put in place to ensure the project runs smoothly, and if it is not, they identify what kind of tools need to be developed to fix the issue. Their job involves writing or modifying code to solve problems and providing face-to-face technical assistance.

Pipeline TDs responsibilities are:

  • Writing pipeline tools
  • Working in collaboration with the CG Supervisor
  • Maintaining of tools such as troubleshooting and optimisation
  • Keep documentation of all development and updating as necessery
  • Ongoing research to improve productivity or communication

Job skills:

  • Excellent Python and Linux skills
  • Communication and documentation skills
  • Think analytically to identify problems and come up with efficient solutions
  • Knowledge of all parts of the pipeline undestanding their needs and challenges they face
  • Programming skills in Python and C++
  • Technical level ability using Maya, Nuke and Houdini
  • Keen for details and ability to multi-task
  • Desirable skill in Computer Science

Pipeline TDs communicate with staff from all departments and work closely with Software developers.

Web reference



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