Kurian is Technical Director at Dr. D Studios, Sydney, Australia, he was formerly the Technical Director at Animation Lab in Jerusalem, Israel, and Los Angeles, USA; IT Manager of Process Development at DQ Entertainment; and Mel Programmer at Toonz Animation India. He received his education at St. Stephens and Aptech Computer Education. His specialties are: pipeline designs, scripts, making of application for supporting production pipeline, C++, Mel, Perl, Python, PyQt, Wx, Java Script, Shake Script, .Net and knowledge in Maya and other 3D packages and editing packages...

Kurian OS, TD at DR. D StudiosCG Today : Welcome, Kurian, to CGToday. Thank you for joining us.

Kurian : Thank you for the invitation and it’s a pleasure being here.

CG Today : You are a technical director in animation film and television industry. How did you know that this was the job for you?

Kurian : Well, it is a good question.

I never knew about it until I joined the VFX team in Toonz. Before that I have been trying my hands in modeling, rigging, texturing and animation – thou never succeeded; I joined at EFX and started writing small expressions. I got interested and then decided it as my career.

CG Today : Can you define the role of a technical director in the world of animation industry?

Kurian : The basic responsibility of a Technical Director is to create an effective production pipeline with which the total team along with each and every asset can be maintained and organized at an ease in turn a successful delivery.

The Technical Director’s are also responsible to reduce the production cost and time by optimizing the process on a day to day basis by creating, customizing and or implementing the available tools / software’s in the market.

To put it simple, Technical Directors are like ‘Doctors’ who are responsible for the overall technical health of a project.

CG Today : Well put, now you are with the newly formed Dr. D Studios in Sydney, Australia. What is unique about this studio and your position as a Technical Director, the Doctor?

Kurian : Well, Dr. D is a new studio but have a good previous track record and the team have already succeeded in delivering the wonderful movie Happy Feet. We have lot of talents from all over the world. I could learn new techniques from them and could explore my potential for coming projects. In 3D industry as you know, we require to be updated; as everyday it’s a new technology. I think this place is really cool and interesting to work since I would be able to interact with high end talents.

CG Today : Happy Feet 2 is one of the current productions of Dr. D Studios; can you tell us about it?

Kurian : As of now I can only say, “Trust me it will be a fantastic movie”.

CG Today : Production Pipeline is integral to any project. What is the most difficult thing about “pipe-lining”?

Kurian : The requirement of any basic production pipeline is to interlink all the departments and keep them up to date on current status of the project. To create such an effective pipeline we’ll require advanced tools such as production tracking system, asset management system and other automated information transfer systems. The toughest part of a pipelining would be creating and or integrating these systems, linking them and create an effective communication between them. Since most of the artists will be occupied and busy on their creative front charging towards the deadline; they do not gain much time to update their work details or any other data to a tracking system. The vital role of a better pipeline management system comes in here. The most difficult thing about “pipelining” is to camouflage the pipeline and or any other data processing away from the artists so that it do not interfere the creative process.

Now there are few smart and ready to implement pipeline management systems are available in the market.



CG Today : How important is it to have open communications with the animators on a project you are involved in together?

Kurian : Not just animators, from the beginning to end, like story to edit, we require transparency. A transparency which reveals the system generated by TD’s for the total team and requires initiating an effective communication to find out other additional requirement of the team. An effective communication before beginning a project and on a regular basis of following it up would help indentifying the bottlenecks and resolve the issues then and there. As creative talents core competency is not programming or pipelining, it become TD’s responsibility to initiate a communication and explain the latest available / implemented tools which would help reducing their work load and keep the production process at ease and optimized. Having an open communication with the total team is the only answer to direct them technically.

CG Today : You have written scripts that may be purchased and used by the animation industry as a whole. Tell us about your Fast Re-namer for Maya script for example.

Kurian : Yes, I had written several scripts for animation production and some are available for free at highend3d. I have been writing them as a part of my learning exercise. I just felt it would help someone to solve their problem or improve the performance; I just shared it. Regarding the rename script, it is an inspiration of ‘comet rename’ an advanced script actually developed for DQ Entertainment.

CG Today : You say that one of your favorite software applications is Houdini. Can you share with us the reasons?

Kurian : I started my 3D life with Maya almost a decade before, still I find Maya to be powerful and user friendly. The interfaces are very well designed and it is very easy to use for even a beginner. When compared with Houdini; Houdini outstands in crowd animation or a massive visual effect scene. Houdini is quiet advanced in simulation, scripting and API support, render engines, fluid and particle systems, rigging and it is very comfortable to play around with digital asset system. Houdini is very good for visual effects and yes it stands to be one of my favorite applications.

CG Today : It’s a very common question by aspiring TD’s, “How do I become a Technical Director?” can you throw some light on it?

Kurian : Cool, as I told earlier it was by a chance, anyway :)

I had some programming background when I came to 3D industry and during that period we do not have much TD’s in India. It was more or less exploring our own path and it was naturally a heuristic method. I used to collect information through various sources such as client documentation and internet to understand the TD’s role and responsibilities. My previous creative attempts have helped me a lot to identify and analyze what exactly an artist will require in a pipeline.

Now there are lots of resources available both through the internet and specialized training schools. I would suggest having a basic knowledge on languages and programmes like C++, Mel, Perl, Python & Javascript and then take up a course or join as an intern at any studios.

There are specialized training schools available these days with custom designed course modules especially to build a career as a TD.

By the way I wish to thank here Mr. Lino Stephen who had offered me the first opportunity to work as a programmer in his team, Mr. Shanmugha Raja; who took me to the core of Maya programming and its possibilities. Anbu and Deepu; for the trust they had on me and who keep bugs me for more options and tools :)

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