How To Become a Rigging TD

How To Become a Rigging Technical Director

What is a Rigging TD?
A Rigging TD (Technical Director) is responsible for creating digital skeletons for 3D computer-generated models. They work to program these digital skeletons so that they move in a realistic way, and this is then used by Animators as a basis for their character’s movements.

What is the job?
A Rigging TD will work closely with a Modeller, whose job will be to draw a 3D computer-generated model in a static pose. This is then passed on to the Rigging TD who will program this to move in a realistic way. The Rigging TD may also receive the facial shapes and expressions of characters and it is their responsibility to work out how this character moves when they perform different expressions such as smiling.

From here, Animators will test rigs and then provide feedback to the Rigging TD, who will complete any requested adjustments. This process will continue until both the Rigging TD and the Animators are happy with the final result.

Key Skills

  • Experience of programming and coding
  • Knowledge of Python and C++
  • Organised and able to work to deadlines
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Good communication skills
  • Ability to collaborate with other individuals and other departments
  • Good problem-solving skills

Salary & Working Hours
As a Rigging TD, your working hours will depend on whether you are employed by a VFX studio or working as a freelancer. This will also affect your proposed salary; if you are working as a freelancer your salary will depend on the number of projects you work on, and the size of those projects. There’s no set salary for those working for a VFX studio as this depends on the calibre of the studio you are working for and your level of experience.

How To Become a Rigging TD
To become a Rigging TD, you need to have a few years’ worth of experience working in VFX, as it is a fairly senior role. A good starting point is to gain experience in a relevant position, such as a Modelling Artist or a Texturing Artist, or even as a Runner in a VFX studio. Simply gaining some experience working in a similar working environment can provide you with some of the key skills required.

As the role of a Rigging TD uses a fair amount of technology, knowledge of scripting languages such as Python and C++, as well as software such as Maya is essential.

A degree in a relevant subject, such as computer graphics or information technology would all be helpful in increasing your chances of landing a role. However, a degree is not essential and it is definitely possible to become a Rigging TD without one.

Starting out in the industry is also possible through an apprenticeship. This will provide you with the opportunity to earn and work in a similar role, all whilst you build up experience and skills. This can help you to build a portfolio which is the most important aspect of trying to secure a role in the industry.

Latest Rigging TD Jobs

Where Can It Take You?
As the role of a Rigging TD is quite a senior position, career development may not be straightforward in terms of promotion. However, for most Rigging TD’s, career progression will be through gaining opportunities to work on larger and more complex projects. As you become more experienced this is likely to be possible as you build your reputation.

Become a Rigging TD
If you are ready for the next step in your career, why not take a look at the latest Rigging TD vacancies on our jobs board? You can view our latest VFX vacancies here.