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Software Engineer - Hair/Cloth Toolset

Burbank, CA - US

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Job ID 762123BR Location Burbank, California, United States Business Walt Disney Animation Studios Date posted Jul. 08, 2020

Job Summary:

At Walt Disney Animation Studios we have a deep commitment to the philosophy that creativity inspires technology, and technology inspires creativity. Engineers in our Production Technology department are charged with developing and implementing new algorithms to solve unique and challenging problems for all of our animated content. We do this working alongside a user base that shares a collaborative environment with us, and uses the code we develop daily.

Projects Include

  • Evolve and expand our custom tool suite for grooming, tailoring, cloth/hair simulation, and additional in-shot work (e.g. sculpting, character performance tuning)
  • Develop new approaches to achieve art-directed simulation with a high level of artistic control
  • Expand our procedural geometry tools for creating hair styles and fur grooms, and driving motion in shots
  • ​Take part in reimagining our overall toolset from the ground up in a highly optimized in-house 3D animation application framework
  • Collaborate with artists on developing intuitive visualizations and interactive workflows


We are looking for an engineer to join our Production Technology team, targeting development of our in-house Hair and Cloth toolset. Our developers work in a collaborative environment in the pursuit of simple and performant solutions to complex problems. In this role, you will partner closely with the artists using the tools, as well as production and technology leadership, technical directors, cross-team software engineers, and researchers.

The developer filling this role would use a variety of techniques including new simulation algorithms, applied research, high performance parallel computation, geometric and procedural techniques, highly efficient data parsing and storage, and other computer graphics algorithms with associated artist workflows. In-depth understanding of both underlying mathematical and theoretical foundations as well as user-facing workflow needs are qualities we seek in an ideal candidate.


What does it mean to be a developer here at WDAS?

  • Our engineers get the opportunity to work on the full stack of our tools, from developing the underlying algorithms through building intuitive artist-friendly interfaces.
  • ​Work hand in hand with artists to make the tools we need for the incredibly complex and rich characters and environments featured in our movies.
  • Develop on top of a highly performant, extendable in-house application framework.
  • Develop new artist-centric interaction models using the latest hardware and technologies.


Key Qualifications

  • Master’s/Ph.D. with specialization in Computer Graphics (with a focus on areas related to our hair and cloth toolset) or comparable industry experience in a research, studio, or games environment
  • Proficiency in C++, ideally C++11/14
  • Strong mathematical fundamentals, such as linear algebra, PDEs, and numerical methods
  • Excellent problem solving, troubleshooting and debugging skills
  • Strong software design and engineering skills
  • Ability to develop and optimize algorithms for efficiency and scalability
  • Deep understanding of computer graphics foundational concepts, algorithms, and related artistic workflows
  • Ability to adapt and extend relevant research to production-level tools tailored to the specific art-directed needs
  • Ability to prioritize competing demands
  • Exemplary communication, ability to engage with artists to understand their requirements and formulate practical solutions


Bonus Qualifications

  • Experience with performance tuning and writing/debugging of parallel and vectorized code
  • Knowledge of the latest publications in the academic community relevant to hair and cloth
  • Experience building clean interfaces using UI development toolkits (Qt)
  • Working knowledge of Python
  • Other expertise: Maya API, USD, OpenGL

About Walt Disney Animation Studios:

Combining masterful artistry and storytelling with groundbreaking technology, Walt Disney Animation Studios is a filmmaker-driven animation studio responsible for creating some of the most beloved films ever made. Located in Burbank, WDAS continues to build on its rich legacy of innovation and creativity, from the first fully-animated feature film, 1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, to 2013's Academy Award®-winning Frozen, the biggest animated film of all time. Among the studio's timeless creations are Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Big Hero 6 and Zootopia.

About The Walt Disney Company:

The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise with the following business segments: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, consumer products and interactive media. From humble beginnings as a cartoon studio in the 1920s to its preeminent name in the entertainment industry today, Disney proudly continues its legacy of creating world-class stories and experiences for every member of the family. Disney’s stories, characters and experiences reach consumers and guests from every corner of the globe. With operations in more than 40 countries, our employees and cast members work together to create entertainment experiences that are both universally and locally cherished.

This position is with Walt Disney Pictures, which is part of a business segment we call Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Walt Disney Pictures is an equal opportunity employer. Applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or protected veteran status. Disney fosters a business culture where ideas and decisions from all people help us grow, innovate, create the best stories and be relevant in a rapidly changing world.

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