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A technical director (TD) is usually a senior technical person within e.g. a software company, engineering firm, film studio, theatre company or television studio. This person usually has the highest level of skill within a specific technical field.


Software

In
software development Software development is the process of conceiving, specifying, designing, programming, documenting, testing, and bug fixing involved in creating and maintaining applications Application may refer to: Mathematics and computing * Application ...
, a technical director is typically responsible for the successful creation and delivery of the company's product to the marketplace by managing technical risks and opportunities; making key
software design Software design is the process by which an Agency (philosophy), agent creates a specification of a Artifact (software development), software artifact intended to accomplish goals, using a set of primitive components and subject to Constraint (m ...
and implementation decisions with the development teams, scheduling of tasks including tracking dependencies, managing
change request A change request is a document containing a call for an adjustment of a system; it is of great importance in the change management process. Image:Example change request.png, 350px, Figure 1: Example change request for the car industry, alt= A chan ...
s, and guaranteeing quality of deliveries and educating the team on technical
best practice A best practice is a method or technique that has been generally accepted as superior to any alternatives because it produces results that are superior to those achieved by other means or because it has become a standard way of doing things, e.g., a ...
s. Typical responsibilities: * Defines the technological strategy in conjunction with the development team of each project: pipeline, tools, and key development procedures * Assesses technical risk and mitigation plan * Establishes standards and procedures to track and measure project's progression * Evaluates development teams, identifying strengths, problem areas, and developing plans for improving performance * Evaluates interview candidates for technical positions * Scouts for and evaluates new technology and tools as opportunities for innovation and development excellence * Oversees technical design documentation process for correctness and timeliness * Provides input to the other disciplines on the practicality of initial design goals and impact to the overall project timeline * Evaluates software implementation on design and task thoroughness * Helps to identify high risk areas for the project director * Identifies weak software systems that need code improvement and schedules corrective action, when possible * Creates
automated test In software testing, test automation is the use of software separate from the software being tested to control the execution of tests and the comparison of actual outcomes with predicted outcomes. Test automation can automate some repetitive but ...
process for system features, where possible, and contributes to the
build system Build automation is the process of automating the creation of a software build and the associated processes including: compiling computer source code into binary code, software package (installation), packaging binary code, and running test automat ...
* Aids in all stages of post-production including during finalizing


Film

In visual effects (VFX) (
Industrial Light and Magic Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is an American Film, motion picture visual effects company that was founded in May 1975 by George Lucas. It is a division of the film production company Lucasfilm, which Lucas founded, and was created when Lucas bega ...
,
Sony Pictures Imageworks Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc. is a Canadian-American visual effects Visual effects (sometimes abbreviated VFX) is the process by which imagery is created or manipulated outside the context of a live action shot in filmmaking and video producti ...
), feature animation (
Pixar Pixar Animation Studios (), commonly known as just Pixar, is an American computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform ge ...

Pixar
,
Dreamworks Animation DreamWorks Animation LLC (also simply known as DreamWorks) is an American animation studio An animation studio is a company producing animated media. The broadest such companies conceive of products to produce, own the physical equipment for p ...
) and game development (
Naughty Dog Naughty Dog, LLC (formerly JAM Software, Inc.) is an American First-party developer, first-party video game developer based in Santa Monica, California, Santa Monica, California. Founded by Andy Gavin and Jason Rubin in 1984, the studio was acqu ...
), a technical director's responsibilities vary from studio to studio and as such, the term is not very well defined. Typically, a TD is a combination of an artist and a programmer, responsible for the more technical aspects of film production, such as programming
shader File:Example of a Shader.png, upright=1.3, Another use of shaders is for special effects, even on 2D images, e.g. a digital photograph, photo from a webcam. The unaltered, unshaded image is on the left, and the same image has a shader applied on ...
s, developing character rigs and animation setups, performing complex simulation tasks and setting up the pipeline (how the data is passed from one stage in the film production to the next). In contrast to a programmer, a TD would normally not work on large programming projects, but rather make heavy use of
scripting language A scripting language or script language is a programming language A programming language is a formal language In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathe ...
s such as
Python Python may refer to: * Pythonidae The Pythonidae, commonly known as pythons, are a family of nonvenomous snakes found in Africa, Asia, and Australia. Among its members are some of the largest snakes in the world. Ten genera and 42 species ...
, MEL, MAXScript, or
shell script A shell script is a computer program In imperative programming, a computer program is a sequence of instructions in a programming language that a computer can execute or interpret. In declarative programming, a ''computer program'' is a Set (m ...
ing. Another responsibility of a TD is to look after any technical problems the regular artists encounter and to develop custom tools to improve the artists' workflow. In these industries, "technical artist", "technical animator" and "generalist TD" are sometimes used as synonyms.


Categorization of technical directors in film

Frequently, the role of a TD is more precisely defined. Various areas of computer graphics require a high degree of specialized technical/scientific knowledge and therefore merit more precise categorization. As an example, a skilled Character TD has a strong understanding of human/animal anatomy, movement, and mechanics, whereas a skilled Lighting TD might have a detailed understanding of the physical properties of light and surfaces. Those categories include (but are not limited to) the following. * Effects TD * Lighting TD * Modeling TD * Pipeline TD * Layout TD * Creature TD or Character TD * Hair TD * Cloth TD * Matchmove TD


Theatre

It is a technical director's job to make sure the technical equipment in the theater is functional, maintained and safe. The technical director, along with the production manager, is responsible for the overall organization of the technical production process. Duties included are generating necessary working drawings for construction (in conjunction with a draftsperson, if there is one); budget estimations and maintaining of accounts; materials research and purchasing; scheduling and supervising build crews; coordinating load-ins; handling conflicts that arise between different departments; and organizing the strike and clean-up for the production. Often, the Technical Director can serve as the head of the scenic department, supervising the master carpenter, carpenters, charge artists and leading them in the realization of the scenic designer's vision. In venues that host touring productions, the TD may also be responsible for advancing the technical rider, hiring local crew, renting equipment and liaising between the tour manager and the local crew.


Television

The technical director works in a
production control room The production control room (PCR) or studio control room (SCR) is the place in a television studio (MDR) A television studio, also called a television production studio, is an installation room in which video productions take place, either for ...
of a television studio and operates the
video switcher A vision mixer is a device used to select between several different live video Video is an electronic Electronic may refer to: *Electronics Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with ...

video switcher
and associated devices as well as serving as the chief of the
television crew Television crew positions are derived from those of film crew A film crew is a group of people, hired by a , for the purpose of . The crew is distinguished from the , as the cast are understood to be the actors who appear in front of the ...
. For a
remote broadcast In broadcast engineering Broadcast engineering is the field of electrical engineering Electrical engineering is an engineering discipline concerned with the study, design, and application of equipment, devices, and systems which use electri ...
outside the studio, the TD will perform the same duties in a mobile
production truck A television production truck or OB van is a small mobile production control room to allow filming of events and video production at locations outside a regular television studio. They are used for remote broadcast In broadcast engineering, ...
. It is the TD's job to ensure all positions are staffed and all equipment and facilities are checked out and ready before the recording session or live broadcast begins. They typically will switch video sources, perform live digital effects and transitions, and insert pre-recorded material, graphics and titles as instructed by the Television director. In larger productions, the director does not actually operate the production equipment, allowing them to coordinate the production and make rapid decisions without worrying about how to mechanically execute the effect or camera move being called for. The technical director may provide training to more inexperienced members of the technical crew when needed. In consultation with the director, the TD may have more or less input into the creative side of the production, depending on the situation. They may provide the director with guidance on crew assignments, camera shots and the most efficient way to accomplish any given effect. The TD is usually responsible for the technical quality of the signal being recorded or broadcast and will use various measuring devices and displays to ensure quality control. Technical directors commonly work on productions that are either broadcast live or recorded on
video tape Videotape is magnetic tape Magnetic tape is a medium for , made of a thin, magnetizable coating on a long, narrow strip of . It was developed in Germany in 1928, based on . Devices that record and playback audio and video using magnetic ta ...
or
video server {{refimprove, date=September 2014 A video server is a computer-based device that is dedicated to delivering video. Video servers are used in a number of applications, and often have additional functions and capabilities that address the needs of pa ...
s. Television productions shot on film generally do not use TDs, as the camera cuts and effects are realized in
post production Post-production is part of the process of filmmaking Filmmaking (film production) is the process by which a motion picture A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts ...
after the shooting is completed. The terminology in the UK differs in some respects from the above description: The production control room is called a "gallery", a mobile production truck is called an " OB van" or a "scanner" (a
BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London. It is the world's oldest national broadcaster, and the largest broadcasting, broadcaster in the world by ...

BBC
term). In UK television practice, the technical director is the senior technical person in the gallery and supervises the technical team, but does not operate the "
vision mixer A vision mixer is a device used to select between several different live video Video is an electronic Electronic may refer to: *Electronics Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal wit ...

vision mixer
". The TD is responsible for ensuring that the gallery is technically fit for purpose, the routing of internal and external sources, as well as liaison with other technical areas such as
master control Master control is the technical hub of a broadcast Broadcasting is the distributionDistribution may refer to: Mathematics *Distribution (mathematics) Distributions, also known as Schwartz distributions or generalized functions, are ...
rooms and transmission suites. They may additionally perform vision control duties, matching the exposure and colour balance of the cameras ("racking").


See also

*
Chief Technology Officer A chief technical officer (CTO), also known as a chief technology officer or chief technologist, is an executive-level position in a company or other entity whose occupation is focused on the scientific and technological issues within an organiz ...


References


External links


Stagelink Technical Directors Directory

Gamasutra article on the role of technical artists (directors) in game production
{{DEFAULTSORT:Technical Director Entertainment occupations
Management occupations Occupations relating to management. Business occupations Management, Occupations Positions of authority {{CatAutoTOC ...
Directors Broadcasting occupations Theatrical occupations Scenic design Theatrical management
Television terminology {{CatAutoTOC Terminology Terminology is a general word for the group of specialized words or meanings relating to a particular field, and also the study of such terms and their use. This is also known as terminology science. Terms are words and ...