R&D Lighting Engineer

Production Technology (R&D, PE, Pipeline) London, United Kingdom


Position at Industrial Light & Magic

Position Summary

We are looking for engineers for our lighting R&D team, to help advance our Katana/RenderMan/Mari-based lighting and look-development tools and high-performance, photorealistic visual effects pipeline.

ILM is working closely with Foundry, and with our sister studio, Pixar, to develop interactive lighting workflows that efficiently manage scenes of massive geometric and texture complexity, allowing Lighting TD’s to iterate faster and spend more time on creative decision-making.

The tools and workflows we’re developing include:

  • Pixar’s Renderman-for-Katana (RfK) as the primary interactive lighting environment.
  • Integration of Pixar’s Universal Scene Description (USD) as a canonical representation of complex scene, effects, and lighting data.
  • Light publishing and templates.
  • Procedural geometry, instancing, and efficient level-of-detail.
  • Multi-shot and sequence-based lighting workflows.
  • Smooth integration between interactive and distributed batch render queuing.

Who We Are

Industrial Light & Magic, founded in 1975 by George Lucas, has created some of the most iconic moments in motion picture history. From Star Wars to Jurassic Park, Pirates of the Caribbean, Transformers, The Avengers, theme park rides and interactive experiences, ILM continues to expand the possibilities of what visual entertainment can be.

ILM’s R&D and Core Pipeline groups develop the ground-breaking technology that our artists use to create dazzling visuals. ILM’s innovations have won 29 Scientific and Technical Academy Awards®. Today, we are 70+ visually-minded software engineers, working side-by-side with over a thousand digital artists in a fast-paced, intensely collaborative, creatively-driven film production environment, across studios in San Francisco, Singapore, Vancouver, and London.

What You'll Do

  • Work in a collaborative, distributed team of full-time software engineers, designing artist-friendly user interfaces, robust data management and scene assembly systems, and automated batch processes that scale to high-volume photo-realistic visual effects production.
  • Work directly with highly specialized and talented artists in active film production, in ILM’s studios in San Francisco, Vancouver, London, and Singapore. Work with Lighting TD users groups, shows, and engineering teams to balance long-term software development projects with day-to-day production support.
  • Collaborate closely with the Renderman team at Pixar, and with Pixar’s USD and production shading/rendering teams.
  • Collaborate closely with The Foundry.

Education / Experience

  • BS or advanced degree in computer science or related field, or equivalent experience.
  • 3+ years of experience in professional software development and/or VFX production.

Required Skills / Competencies

  • An intuitive understanding of the demands of a fast-paced, creatively-driven visual effects production environment.
  • Collaboration: a readiness to trust others, be trustworthy, and play nice.
  • Communication: an ability to express yourself concisely, a willingness to speak up, and a conviction to keep everyone informed of progress and issues.
  • Empathy: an ability to listen intently and understand artists’ needs.
  • Creativity: an insightful and analytical thinker, and a creative problem solver.

Required Technical Skills

  • Expert knowledge of programming in C++ and Python on Linux.
  • Thorough knowledge of principles of computer graphics, especially lighting and shading: path tracing, light transport, high-dynamic-range imagery, color science, subdivision surface geometry, proceduralism and instancing, deformation and caching.
  • Experience with Katana (or similar computer graphics lighting application), as a user and plugin developer; other API’s a plus: Maya, Houdini, Nuke, etc.
  • Experience with Renderman RIS (or similar pathtracing renderer).
  • Good understanding of asset management and production tracking systems.
  • Thorough knowledge of 3D data formats: Alembic, USD, OpenVDB, etc.
  • Good knowledge of standard libraries: boost, TBB, OpenGL, CUDA, etc.
  • Experience designing artist-friendly interfaces using GUI toolkits: Qt, PyQt, etc.
  • Thorough knowledge of software development principles: object-oriented design, test-driven development, source code management, build and release processes.
  • Experience working with a large, complex, mature, and dynamic code base.