How To Become a Pipeline TD

How To Become a Pipeline Technical Director

What is a Pipeline TD?
Pipeline Technical Directors (TDs) make sure a VFX project runs smoothly by identifying and fixing problems as they arise. This is done by making sure each department has the software tools that they need to complete their part of the project to the best standard possible.

What is the Job?
The role of a Pipeline TD will involve working closely with the rest of the pipeline team. It involves the responsibility for developing and maintaining departmental tools used for animation, VFX and other projects. Specific responsibilities will include writing and modifying computer code to solve problems related to art or productivity, acting as a liaison for communicating technical issues to Production, R&D and IT, testing and debugging tools and processes to ensure stability, and educating Artists on how to work with the pipeline and department tools.

A Pipeline TD will work with a range of people, including 3D Animators, Riggers, Modellers, Lighters, and Compositors. They communicate with VFX Artists across the team to understand their needs. If the project that they are working on isn’t running smoothly, then it is the Pipeline TD’s responsibility to identify what kind of tools need to be developed to fix the issues.

Key Skills

  • Ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines
  • Excellent problem-solver
  • Good communication skills
  • Ability to work in a team as well as independently
  • Experience using software packages such as Python, Maya, Nuke and Shotgun
  • Ability to prioritise production needs and tasks
  • Good understanding of the visual effects process, from shooting through to composition

Salary & Working Hours
The average salary for a Pipeline TD can vary from £60,000 up to around £67,000, but the average is around £63,000.

Working hours for a Pipeline TD will depend on whether you are working in a studio, in which case it is likely to be normal hours, 9am-5pm, with the occasional need to work overtime and evenings when deadlines are approaching. For those who are working on a freelance basis, working hours will depend on when you choose to work, and when you can get projects to work on.

How To Become a Pipeline TD
As the Pipeline TD oversees departments and has a lot of responsibility, the Pipeline TD must have a very good understanding of how VFX production pipelines work and the different roles within them. It may be useful to get a few years’ worth of experience working as a VFX Artist or in a related role, in order to build up your skills. The role of Pipeline TD is a fairly senior role, so you’ll need to work your way up from a junior position.

As with most jobs in the film industry, a portfolio is essential in order to showcase your work and show potential employers what you are capable of. Building up experience, even through volunteering will always put you at an advantage as well.

Latest Pipeline TD Jobs

Where Can It Take You?
The role of Pipeline TD is a senior role, and therefore career progression in terms of promotion may be limited. However, for most Pipeline TDs, career progression is through being able to work on larger, and more important projects. This can be achieved through building up your reputation and gaining experience working on a variety of projects. On top of this, the skills you obtain as a Pipeline TD will provide you with the opportunity to work in many other roles in the film industry.

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