A common misunderstanding and confusion for newcomers is:
"What is the actual role of a Technical Director?"
Technical Directors are everywhere. Every decent sized Visual Effects, Animation and Games production has them but what do they actually do?
The simplest answer is:
Technical Directors solve technical challenges to achieve the artistic results.
While a director dreams up the creative realization of the project, the producer plans and budget, the Technical Directors job is to help realize this creative dream by creating technical solution.
1. 🧪 Solve technical issues
Creating art is hard! Creating digital 3D art with hours of length for mass consumption in a digital "on demand" media is even harder. The challenges are numerous:
Complex and unique projects: No two projects are the same, each has its own set of technical requirements.
Evolving technology: Constantly changing tools and techniques require adaptability.
Multiple 3D software packages: Artists need to navigate various software to create their work.
Huge specialized teams: Coordination and communication are crucial in large-scale productions.
International and ununified backgrounds: Diverse teams bring different perspectives and workflows.
Technical Directors are the bridge between a software developer and an artist. They allow artists to create by removing hurdles and creating solutions that help them beat the deadline. To develop something on time and on budget, it's essential to streamline processes, and that's where Technical Directors shine.
2. 🚀 Create technical opportunities
We currently have a variety of amazing software options. However, creative projects often have unique elements that demand a lot from typical off-the-shelf software. This is where custom solutions allow Technical Directors and developers to create something new and unique, making aspects of the projects possible.
Custom shader/lights: Develop shaders and lights that fit the specific artistic vision of a project.
Procedural models/shader: Create complex and customizable models and shaders for more creative control.
Creative customizable elements: Allow artists to tweak and adjust elements to their liking.
Data or user-driven creations (cities, forests, etc.): Generate large-scale environments based on input data or user specifications.
Pipelines, tracking, publishing: Streamline and automate various stages of the production process.
3. 🐍 Python to the rescue
An important skill for all Technical Directors is the scripting language Python since it's the most used in the industry. It opens untapped potential in every project while being used in all DCCs. Using Python allows the artist to focus on the art without thinking too much about the process. Some ways Python can help artists with their tasks include:
Summarize multiple steps into 1-button-solutions: Automate repetitive tasks to save time.
Simplify workflows and create predefined templates: Streamline processes to improve efficiency.
Develop new tools and applications: Enhance the DCC with custom features tailored to the project's needs.
Python is an essential scripting language for Technical Directors, as it's the most used in the industry. It opens untapped potential in virtually every project while being used in all DCCs. Utilizing Python allows artists to focus on the art without thinking too much about the process.
In a nutshell, Technical Directors are the unsung heroes of Visual Effects, Animation, and Games production. They solve technical challenges, create opportunities for artists, and help bring the creative vision to life. To become a Technical Director, you'll need a strong understanding of technical workflows, great communication skills, and knowledge of scripting languages like Python.
If you want to become a Technical Director yourself, start by solving your technical issues, look for solutions that improve workflows, and learn Python to create helpful and essential scripts.
Learn more about the TD role? Check out my Free 7-Day TD Bootcamp: Technical Director.
Thanks for reading,
About the Author
I'm Alexander, an Award-Winning Technical Director & Coach in Visual Effects, Animation and Games. My skills are solving technical problems, simplifying workflows and mentoring career goals.