Visual effects (VFX)

Pipeline technical director (TD)

Also known as: Pipeline technician

Pipeline technical director (TD)

What does a pipeline technical director do?

Pipeline TDs make sure a VFX project runs smoothly by identifying and fixing problems as they arise. They make sure each department has the software tools that they need to complete their part of the project to the best standard possible. They have a very good understanding of how VFX production pipelines work and the roles within them.

They communicate with VFX artists across the team to understand their needs. They then put things in place to ensure the project runs smoothly and the artists’ needs are met. If the project isn’t running smoothly, they identify what kind of tools that need to be developed to fix this. Issues that arise might be technical ones to do with 3D art, or productivity issues. Their job involves writing or modifying code to solve problems. They also provide face-to-face technical assistance. Pipeline TDs will work closely with research and development teams, who design and test any new software.

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What’s a pipeline TD good at?

  • Communication: communicate well with a variety of staff at different levels to understand their needs and assist with technical issues, work well as part of a team to develop solutions and take direction from a VFX supervisor
  • Problem solving: think analytically to identify problems and come up with creative and efficient solutions, find new ways to overcome obstacles and achieve a creative vision
  • Knowledge of all parts of the pipeline: have a good understanding of the jobs within the pipeline, their roles, needs and the challenges that they face
  • Programming and coding skills: have advanced knowledge of programming in Python and C++ with a very high level of technical ability using a variety of relevant software used across the project such as Maya, Houdini and Nuke
  • Helping others: offer guidance to more junior members of the pipeline team and give face-to-face technical assistance to staff across departments, maintain a positive attitude

Who does a pipeline TD work with?

Pipeline TDs communicate with staff throughout all the departments to understand their needs and problems. They work closely with software developers to develop solutions to these as well as different kinds of supervisors.