An Ode To VFX-TECH

This time last year, I was still working at Industrial Light & Magic. That year, the company had undergone many Disney-centric changes, we had just wrapped work on the Avengers sequel, and the upcoming work on Star Wars Episode VII had everyone abuzz.

I worked in the department that wrote scripts to assist in artists’ workflows, but also addressed any support issues that came up during our post-production work. Coming up with quick but reliable solutions to these support issues was stressful work, for both the fixers and fix requesters. Often artists and production would email a company-wide email list, vfx-tech, instead of the appropriate support channels, which often launched an epic thread of dueling “mine’s broken too”s and “please use support-log instead”s. It spawned frustration on both sides.

I will say that this part of the job was stressful, but also that the people of ILM are a pleasure to work with. As a way to poke fun at our situation and try my hand at topical rhyming, I threw together a Twas The Night Before Christmas parody just before the holiday hiatus. I sent it to the same email list that often spawned so much friction between artists, production, and support.

Email list, program, and department names (IT, PS, etc.) have been modified to remain anonymous.

Ode To VFX-TECH

Twas the night before final delivery, when all through the vfx house
not a shell was responding, not even a mouse. 
All the jobs were hung on the farm, what a scare,
with only hours left to render, how is that fair!

The artists were nervous, dreaming of their beds,
while visions of black frames flashed through their heads.
And production just waiting for the work to wrap,
had been thinking if, in the meantime, they could possibly nap.

When out from IT there arose some chatter,
tech departments sprang from their desks to see what was the matter.
Away to
support-log they flew like a flash,
opened up a ticket, resisting a “HULK SMASH”

With a little responsiveness, one cursor and a click,
we knew in a moment we would see a thread quick.
Unaware of existing issues, unable to check,
several artists sent their issues to
vfx-tech.

“Now IT! Now PS!
Now, TE and RnD!
On, logouts! On, reboots!
On, “Try a new shell maybe”!
To the top of the department!
To the top of the show!
Something is wrong, very wrong,
Everyone must know!”

IT investigated slowness and PS, the databases,
while TE tried to reproduce all the broken cases.
Soon the issue acknowledgement told us that all is well,
as shells were responding as far as we could tell.

Artists rendered out their frames, much to their glee,
while production was happy to start the delivery.
It’s almost as if The Mouse had said, in all his delight,
“Uh’huh! Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night!”

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