What is a Technical Director in Visual Effects, Animation and Games?

What is a Technical Director in Visual Effects, Animation and Games?


Starostwo Tji
[Hello] My name is Alexander Richter
and Welcome to TD Monday. Every Monday we discuss topics of
VFX, Animation and Games. So today’s topic is
“Who and what exactly is a Technical Director?” [epic intro] Since this series is called TD Monday. I thought it’s time to talk about
what exactly is a Technical Director. I’m currently in Vienna Austria and I thought it’s a great background
to talk about this topic. sunny and if you don’t know who I am and like why would you I mean it’s not like I have like 1 million subscribers on YouTube [Let me check] No I don’t!
[he said in a windy voice] My name is Alexander Richter I’m a diploma Technical Director from the Filmakademie I have like 5 years of experience
of being a Technical Director I worked at VFX companies like
Framestore or Mackevision or animation companies like
Studio Soi and Animationsfabrik I worked on 2 feature films
[The 7th dwarf & Jim Button] and dozens of other projects. Trailer for the ITFS.
[Animan, Drool Pool, Planeta De Queso, Los Mariachis] I have an open source pipeline, which is called Plex. So check this out
[on GitHub] and wrote like dozens of articles in the Digital Production and in forums online On this video we will mainly focus on What is a Technical Director in
VFX, Animation and Games since this is my area of expertise there are like dozens of other job areas
where you find Technical Director But in this definition we’ll focus on just this area So my definition of a Technical Director is: “A Technical Director makes things easier and he makes things possible.” So let me explain. With “making things easier” I mean mainly the parts of pipelining and workflow A lot of times people think of pipeline and workflow if they think of a Technical Director and in a way, it’s true It’s about guiding the project in a way of
technical and organization thinking Where you suggest which software is used which naming is used where everything is where are your files how they’re named and so on how the structure of the project itself is and the files are in a good way for teamwork and especially it helps you to preserve time and you can focus more on the creative part of the job instead always like thinking about where to put the file how to name it how to save it and so on and so forth Technical Director normally define this kind of stuff They define a lot of workflows but they also write you
scripts, plugins and makros to automate your process like automate your saving, loading and all the things you will encounter while you work on modeling, lighting, rendering and so on it’s like a help to have you for be more focused on creative work instead of all the organization and workflow stuff 2. part of my definition is “making things possible” and I mean with that Software Development and Research so one of the things I did for example was implementing a research paper Which is called [Skin Microstructure Deformation with Displacement Map Convolution] and in this paper it was about having in close up a more realistic skin
in terms of wrinkles so you find all the microstructure wrinkles there and I implemented this paper to create displacement map textures for every frame to have this fine details added to the character and to make him more believable and this research is a part
of what you can do as a Technical Director Even if they’re things existing like for example, you want to create a fire solver since there is not enough creative possibilities [in the existing] because it’s grounded in reality
[shame on you] but your artist or your director wants to have
a little bit more toonish way or a more creative way of how the fire is happening or there are this kind of tools and plugins but they’re not suitable for your project because they take too long to compile they take too long to render and you want to create your own plugin and your own fire solver
which is made exactly for this project or shot. To make it even possible to make the shot in a way in the director thinks it should be or in a way of the time [constriction]. The “director” part talks about the responsibilities for a specific group of mostly artists or producer So a lot of times there’s a TD involved
with a bunch of artists for example a lighting TD with like 10 artists working on the project A modeling TD with the modeling artist and so on and so forth and he’s there to maintain
the technical fluency of the project So every time a lighting artist has a problem with the lighting setup like it takes too long to render The scene takes too long to open it breaks and so on. It’s not renderable in any way he will give it to technical director and the technical director will find solutions for example to make this light setup smaller but still consistent with the shot or he finds a ways to open this file again … He is responsible for a specific group and that’s where the directing part comes in The technical part is
to have this technical solving mind it’s like having a mathematical thinking where you work in this puzzle solving way As I said:
If you have problems with opening a file if you have problems
to maintain the artistic integrity of what you want to do A Technical Director should think of a technical solution find/create plugins find/create small scripts and integrate them into this solution
to make the artist work happening in a way that they can focus on their artistic mind and not too much on the technical challenges they encounter. A very controverse believe is this last point. And it’s: “If you’re the laziest person in the room, you’re probably a Technical Director.” [Trigger Holy] Even people surrounding me
or who are Technical Directors are like: “What’s up, man? That’s it’s not true!” and in a way it is I mean every technical person, every programmer is
in a way or another very lazy. It’s because in 2018 no one applauds you for hard-working everyone applauds you for being smart So “Don’t work hard” “Do work smart” If you are in a technical mind setup if you are a little bit more into this logical thinking you get very bored by this repetition. So if something is repeatable it means it has a formula So it’s automatable by a script, by plugins or by macros On th other side it’s not very challenging for your mind Repetition means you already figure out the Rubik’s Cube and everything after that is just practice a little bit but it’s not very puzzle solving which for me is one of the the greatest thing
of being a TD Everything is a puzzle from why the scene is not opening how to make stuff render faster how to maintain a project and stay consistent to the artistic mind have a consistent story. Everything is a puzzle. Like everyone solves puzzles in its daily life and as a technical director
it’s your daily life if you like to solve puzzles
and if you don’t like to have repetition There’s partially either the technical artist or technical director in you because you want to focus on stuff that makes makes fun for you and you don’t care about clicking around making things again and again and again
per project, per shot and You want to focus on the stuff
that makes the end result happening and I think that’s the main drive for a technical director especially if you work on pipeline or workflows. You really look into things
which makes the life of everyone easier. In a way it’s a very personal view
on what a technical director exactly does because it just reflects my experience as being part of the Technical Director Diploma at the Filmakademie and my 5 years of work experience in companies. So even there I noticed that there’s like a difference between VFX and animation between companies but it’s very important to know what the responsibilities probably will be if you go this direction and what to expect and to learn if you want to go to road maybe you want to drift away from being an artist and start to be more technical director sense or technical artist Let me know in the comments below
of your definition of a technical director And I’ll see YOU in the next video! [clap of death] [finally a real TD … wait] [ask me more in the comments] [like & subscribe for more]

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  1. The sound is far and windy … but Vienna. Added subtitles for the readers.
    What are your thoughts of being a Technical Director?

  2. Hi Alex, I am very interested in grooming and currently learning it in Houdini and Yeti for Maya but I am still a student. At which state do you think is it crucial for an upcoming Groom Artist, to become fluent in VEX/Python and other scripting, for being able to advance in the future to TD. I have basic coding skills, but you still have to compare to everybody else, right?

  3. Thank you man, I appreciate this video alot, I have an interview next week and you have really opened my eyes into what a TD does, fingers crossed.

  4. Thank you for making this video — I loved the insight! As a current undergraduate student studying computer science and wanting to break into the animation, VFX and gaming industries through computer graphics and technical directing, I can say it's very hard to find accounts of how it's actually like to be a TD in these industries online that talk about not just information on what a TD is, but also personal experiences that come with it, as well as pros and cons of what the job entails. Your video did a great job of doing this, and has reaffirmed my passion for this career! You got me excited about the path I'm on and I'm definitely watching more of your videos if you post more of them like this one (:

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