Technical director

Technical director

The Technical Director (TD) or Technical Producer (TP) is usually the most senior technical person within a Software Company, Theatrical company, or Film/Television Studio or agency. This person usually possesses the highest level of competence in a specific technical field and may be recognized as an expert in that industry.

The Technical Director provides technical direction on business decisions and in the execution of specific projects. He or she may be assigned to a single project, or may oversee a number of projects with related technologies. A Technical Director also typically keeps close contact with any Production Manager and keeps them informed of their budget's status at all Production Meetings.


In visual FX/animation production such as Pixar or Industrial Light and Magic or game studios, a technical director's (TD) responsibilities vary from studio to studio and as such, the term is not very well defined.

Typically, a TD is a mix of an artist and a programmer, responsible for the more technical aspects of film production, such as programming shaders, 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 languages such as Python, MEL, or MAXScript or shell scripting. Another responsibility of an TD is to look after any technical problems the regular artists encounter and to develop custom tools to improve the artists' workflow.

"Technical Artist", "Technical Animator" and "Generalist TD" are sometimes used as synonyms, and frequently, the role of a TD is more precisely defined, for example "Effects TD", "Lighting TD", "Modeling TD", "Pipeline TD", "Creature TD", "Hair TD", "Cloth TD" etc.


In software development, 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 and implementation decisions with the development teams; scheduling of tasks including tracking dependencies, managing change requests, and guaranteeing quality of deliveries; and educating the team on technical best practices.

Typical Responsibilities:
* Defines the technological strategy 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 projects progression.
* Evaluates development team(s), 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.
* Pre-production 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 process for system and game features, where possible, and contributes to the build system.
* Aids in all stages of post-production including during finalizing


In television, the technical director actually refers to the role of the vision mixer, and works under the supervision of the television director. It is the TD's job to manually switch video sources, perform edits and overlay titles as ordered by the director. (The director does not directly interface with the production equipment, allowing him to coordinate the production and make rapid decisions.) The TD reserves a level of autonomy in exceptional cases, such as time constraints which may force him to fade to black early, or to switch away from shots which are not to broadcast standards or quality.

The TD also functions as crew chief, making sure all positions are manned and all equipment and facilities checked out and ready before the taping session or live broadcast begins. He/she may provide training to more inexperienced members of the crew. In consultation with the director, the TD may have more or less input into the creative side of the production, depending on the situation. He/she 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 often uses waveform monitors and vectorscopes to measure video levels.


It is a technical director's job to make sure the technical equipment in the theatre is cleaned and safe; although these duties may be delegated to a shop or house manager. Technical directors of theatre companies are often hired to fill the role of technical director for productions as well, but these are two separate jobs.

A Technical Director for a specific production(s) is responsible for working closely with the Scenic Designer and Director. It is their responsibility to determine how the scenery will be built and out of what materials. A TD will take a Scenic Designer's artistic draftings and create technical draftings of them. These are the draftings given to the scenic carpenters. They should be clear and have all the information a carpenter needs to start work immediately.

Technical Director can also refer to the in-house chief designer/master carpenter for a smaller theater company..

ee also

* Television director

External links

* [ Stagelink Technical Directors Directory]
* [ Gamasutra article on the role of Technical Directors in game production]

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