For nearly two decades, Mr. Oner has lead production pipeline development for both feature film and TV. His early career started in 1994 in Research & Development for CGI, but he quickly found his place as a Lead Software Engineer. Mr. Oner has an impressive track record developing key software and technology for VFX production pipelines for Hollywood Blockbuster movies such as The Amazing Spider-Man by Marvel Entertainment, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and The Smurfs by Sony Pictures Animation & Sony Pictures Imageworks and the TV series Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events by Netflix.
It’s satisfying to be able to invent things and have them work even better than common solutions.
Ashley: What does a Senior Pipeline Supervisor do?
Safak: The Senior Pipeline Supervisor’s responsibility is to establish appropriate practices in software engineering to accommodate an efficient software development environment in the Technology departments; ensuring that the production technologies are headed in the right direction in a scalable manner. We are also heavily involved in architecting software for the Libraries and APIs being developed. Apart from those technical responsibilities, a Senior Pipeline Supervisor needs to be a good problem solver (whether those problems are technical or not); a good mentor; and also, a good organizer, so he or she can keep the team working together in an efficient manner.
Ashley: That’s a big responsibility…how do you envision for your role with Bardel?
Safak: I like to think out-of-the-box. I run the Tech team in a slightly different manner when it comes to common practices in VFX and animation. I expect each team member to establish well-defined development workflows in order to avoid ambiguity. It’s important that team members understand the development workflow and follow it accordingly. Not only does this ensure that time is spent wisely, but it also reduces the workload for developers, so that they spend their time “producing” rather than fixing things. Accomplishment is an important virtue for developers and I want my team to feel inspired.
Ashley: Tell me, what is the most exciting thing about working for Bardel…?
Safak: We are developing a multi-site, cross-platform and cross-application production pipeline from scratch to increase efficiency and productivity! Developing a pipeline from scratch doesn’t happen often, so being a member of a great team and working in a development environment that is producing such technologies is very exciting indeed!
Ashley: …And what would you say is the most challenging part of your job?
Safak: Well, Bardel Entertainment is a multi-discipline production house, which means that we use 2D as well as 3D animation techniques. Developing technologies that cover all the different production needs and client needs is challenging, but is also a lot of fun.
Ashley: Slightly off topic…when you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
Safak: A fighter pilot, probably for F16s because they were very popular when I was a kid. That said, I had great interest in stop motion animation and special effects, so I always played with aspects of animation even when I was a kid.
Ashley: That question I love to ask: What motivates you and is it the same thing as when you first started out?
Safak: Since the beginning of my career I’ve had a different point of view than most people because I like to think out-of-the-box: produce solutions differently and in an efficient manner. This motivates me, even today. It’s satisfying to be able to invent things and have them work even better than common solutions.
Ashley: Can you explain to us what a multi-site cross-platform pipeline is?
Safak: Multi-site essentially means that the pipeline – and all the aspects of it – run exactly the same way in any given studio without any changes; whether the studio is in North America or Europe. Along with that, our pipeline is being developed cross-platform: meaning that we are able to run the pipeline on different operating systems, such as Windows, Linux, and Mac OS.
Ashley: How will this benefit Bardel’s Studios?
Safak: Having a multi-site, cross-platform pipeline prevents duplication of development work for the developers. They develop on a piece of technology and it runs in all studios, regardless of the operating system in use. This also saves time when it comes to training 700+ artists on the tools they need to use and workflows they need to know.
Ashley: What does it mean for the artists? i.e. What new tools? How will it help productivity?
Safak: Our team provides anything from scripts to stand-alone applications required by any given production and of course, this includes the workflow and user experience. But regardless, because of the unified way the new pipeline works, artists are able to learn things very quickly and work productively. This is a big ‘plus’ for artists.
Ashley: How many people are on Bardel’s Tech team? How many staff does it take to build and maintain the pipeline? How expensive is it?
Safak: We have 15 people in our pipeline development team and we are hiring more! Based on the requirements of the production it may take to 5-25 people develop a pipeline. The cost could be several hundred thousand dollars to a million dollars, easily.
Ashley: Why would anyone want to be a part of the project?
Safak: Working on Bardel’s Tech team is a fantastic opportunity for any developer! Our aim is to have the best pipeline in the industry. In order to make sure that we do, we think out-of-the-box and have established rock-solid software engineering practices, which contribute to a Developer’s career. We are constantly learning and moving forward, as every developer desires, including myself.
Working on Bardel’s Tech team is a fantastic opportunity for any developer. Our aim is to have the best pipeline in the industry. In order to make sure that we do, we think out-of-the-box and have established rock-solid software engineering practices, which contribute to a Developer’s career. We are constantly learning and moving forward, as every developer desires, including myself.
Ashley: What kind of career can a person in Technology have at Bardel? i.e. Pipeline TD and Show TD/Asset TD roles?
Safak: We have openings for many different roles. For instance Pipeline TDs work for the core team, meaning that all the APIs used by other developers and TDs are developed by them. We are also hiring for Show TDs, who are doing development work on any given show. We also re-position team member, when possible, in order to provide opportunities suitable for their skill set and in order to advance their careers.
Ashley: How many roles are Bardel hiring for in 2017 in Technology?
Safak: We are currently hiring 1 Pipeline TD, 2 Show TDs as well as 1 Fur TD and we’ll hire more TDs based on our production needs. Check out our career page at http://bardel.ca/now-hiring/ to apply online.
Ashley: What kind of opportunities are there for Senior level local talent?
Safak: We are hiring senior level pipeline TDs who have library/API development experience, therefore he or she can contribute to our new pipeline APIs. This position also requires knowledge of software design patterns and a good amount of OOP experience.
Ashley: Another question I love: ten years into the future, how may Tech Pipelines in animation differ? How is that going to affect how animators work?
Safak: With better GPU technologies, content creation would be faster and easier. Despite the technological achievements in rendering aspects of the pipeline, we expect to see even better solutions that would cut off the rendering time, hopefully considerably. Also, content creation and consuming takes another approach with the Virtual Reality technologies being developed nowadays, so we’ll see what it will bring to our industry…
Ashley: What’s a hobby you have that not everyone knows about?
Safak: I have been in love with flying since I was a kid. So, I’m involved with some extreme sport such as skydiving and paragliding. I spend my time mostly doing these kinds of activities. Whenever I have time, I make plane models, static and RC. I also love electronics and developing software with hardware interfaces.
Ashley: thank-you for answering my questions!
Safak: Anytime, thank-you!
If you’re interested in a career in Technology with Bardel, make sure to check out our career page and apply online today! http://bardel.ca/now-hiring/
Don’t miss out! We’re ramping up for some high-profile shows!