Thursday, April 12, 2012

Meet Our New Software Developer

From the streets of Compositing meet our new kid on the block of Software Development, Jared Glass. 

What did you study after school?
I studied digital media, animation and visual effects. In school I one of my chosen subjects was Java (programming language) which made the foundation of my programming knowledge.

What did you do at TF before becoming Software Developer?
I was employed as a compositor. We started as a team of just two guys and in the beginning there wasn't very much work. So in the downtime I downloaded pretty much the whole Foundry youtube channel. The Foundry is the company responsible for Nuke (an awesome, node-based digital compositing tool). I basically went through all of the tutorials gaining knowledge on different compositing techniques and colour theory and then moved on to plugin development and scripting. Studying the tutorials helped quite a lot. In many cases the Nuke veterans believed that they already knew everything so they dismissed the tutorials. But I've learnt that in keeping an open mind I am keeping myself open to learning. So that was pretty cool because I was able to teach a thing or two to some people who were way more experienced than me.

How are you settling into the new job?
It's crazy! I always have about five different things open on my PC, helping people, developing things and finding solutions to various other technical issues. A lot of my time is spent juggling all these tasks. I've found it best to just make a list of what I need to do and run through it in order of priority. That and a few hundred sticky notes reminding me to do various other things. I went from doing more of an artistic thing, compositing and started creating post effects. This lead to the creation of some compositing plugins, then a few pipeline scripts and finally ended up in full-time pipeline development and plugin design. My current job is basically to create a smoother workflow for the artists. As hectic as it is I do still enjoy the combination of helping people and overcoming various mental challenges that coding can present.

What exactly do you do?
The pipeline is an ongoing thing, and then I do plug-ins and general tools. So, for example, in a lot of cases someone might be clicking a whole lot of buttons and changing a whole bunch of values, which could be quite a long and especially laborious process for them. Though I could take take half an hour to write a quick script for them, that saves them time and decreases room for human error resulting in them just having to click one single button and it's done in a matter of moments. In my mind everyone should learn programming, even if it's just the basics, because you can automate so many mundane tasks and spend more of your life doing things that are actually productive. It can make life a lot easier and faster!

How would you describe yourself both at work and outside of work?
Work wise, I guess I'm quite strict and diligent. If something needs to be done right, it needs to be done right. There are strict rules and regulations that need to be followed otherwise they can have a knock-on-effect down the line that leads to a later disaster. In many cases I end up writing scripts that take all the admin away from the artists so that they can focus on their art and not have to worry about naming conventions etc. A lot of what I do is also just general technical support - if someone comes to me with a problem I'll either sort it out immediately, or if I'm really busy I make sure they have something else they can do in the meantime until I get a chance to solve their problem.
Outside of work I stay as far away from computers as I can! I get enough of them at the office. I enjoy almost any kind of pyhsical activity, whether it be soccer, slack-lining, hiking, running, cycling, gym or anything else that gets my heart pumping. I like to keep a balance between sitting in a chair infront of a computer and doing physical activities. This being said, I do do a fair amount of tutorials on my home PC. I try to keep my brain exercised by learning new things and most of the work I do at home ends up helping my work at work haha.

Who is the character that you most relate to in the current feature you're working on, Khumba?
Ha! I'd probably say I'm most like Khumba's dad, Seko, because I have to direct people. Even though they don't always listen I kind of have to keep everyone in line and keep everything running smoothly.

Do you feel like you have big shoes to fill?
Yes, I do. But I also feel like I've been prepared properly. And if I'm not prepared enough in one aspect I will push myself and step up to the plate. I've been lucky to work under two great bosses: Dave Clark and then Simon Anderson. It helps to have a good sense of direction and I've been very fortunate to have worked and learned from quite a few talented people. So if I can succesfully implement what I've picked up along the way, then I'm sure my teams will prosper.

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