Pipeline Heroes Inside-Out: Part One

Jun 27, 2018




For four years, the Pipeline Awards have recognized excellence in pipeline tool development, integration, engineering, and usage. They have honored creative visionaries who have given artists and studios across the globe the ability to focus on the things that matter. Although their work is not always publicly recognized, they remain devoted to improving laborious processes and achieving new best practices in the field of pipeline. We have seen some incredible work from extraordinary individuals that we fondly call our "Pipeline Heroes".

In this new series, Pipeline Heroes Inside-Out, we aim to celebrate the achievements of past Pipeline Award recipients and get to know them better. In this first installment of the series, we asked our heroes…


What do you think it takes to win a Pipeline Award?

Benoit Leveau, Milk VFX

2015 Shotty Award for Smart Publish Notifications


As pipeline developers, we're faced every day with challenging problems. There is always a delicate balance between a quick fix - so that production is not interrupted - and a proper solution that doesn't come back to bite you in the long term.

However, if you approach problems in a different way and look at the big picture, there is yet another way - an elegant and innovative solution that will drastically improve the efficiency of the pipeline. I think the Pipeline Tool Award rewards such solutions.


Janice Collier, Mammal Studios

2016 Pipeline Hero Award


It seems like the major characteristics are technical curiosity, stubborn persistence, and management that writes your name in on the ballot that year? I think that's how it works...


More seriously, I became 2016's Pipeline Hero based on a sort of mutual consensus between my boss, Gregory Liegey, and the Shotgun team at Autodesk. I don't come from a traditional computer science background, so I approached critical work at Mammal as a researcher first and then a programmer. I scoured the Shotgun codebase on GitHub; my early scripts are littered with pointers back to this or that Stack Exchange question. I split my time between assigned problems ("hey, we need better ways to make deliverables") and ones I stumbled into ("you're ingesting plates... how? that seems difficult").


I filed tons of support requests with Shotgun, Foundry, and Thinkbox, and I tried to consistently treat the engineers and Street Team members on the other end of those tickets like I'd want to be treated in the same role. You want your tickets to be upfront and professional with all the required info right at the top and all the screenshots and log files in order. You always want to keep track of the people supporting you - to tell them that you appreciated the speed of their response, that their technical apprehension of your issue is solid, or just to have a nice weekend.

As a Shotgun pipeline engineer, you're going to see a lot of the same webpages, code hooks, and employee names over and over again. You're going to want to be technical enough to deal with the tools, flexible enough to innovate with the ones you're given, observant enough to find the tasks that need new approaches but also empathetic enough to be kind and professional to the people who support you in those goals.



Andy Jones, Psyop

2017 Shotty Award for Cryptomatte


I needed a computer, but I bet there are people out there these days who could pull it off with a smartphone! In truth though, I think a genuine desire to help people push beyond their limits is the best place to start.  If you have that desire, you can use it to learn how to program, design tools, and communicate with others to find how you can make their work better and their days more productive.

Chris Bennett, Dreamworks Animation

2017 Shotty Award for DWATV Credits Tool


I think it takes creativity to come up with a unique idea; knowledge and teamwork to execute a working representation of that idea; and courage to submit that work to your peers.



 More on the 5th Annual Pipeline Awards here