What does a data capture TD do?
Data capture technical directors (TDs) go onto the film or TV set to collect the information about the live-action footage that the teams in the VFX studio need to add the visual effects.
They take photographs of the set and the way the cameras are positioned. They “capture data” about the type of lens type being used, its focal length, filters, focus and colour temperature. They also record the camera height, camera mount and distance between the camera and actor, and other details. And they take photos of surfaces, so that the textures can be recreated digitally later on.
All this information is necessary so the exact scene in the live action can be recreated digitally and the VFX can be incorporated in a believable way.
Data capture TDs use a variety of tools to capture the data, including cameras and a ‘total station’ which electronically measures horizontal and vertical angles and distances.
They upload, log and backup all the data, before sending it on to the relevant members of the VFX company on a daily basis.
Data capture TDs tend to be employed by VFX companies or studios rather than work as freelancers.
What's a data capture TD good at?
- Being accurate: be methodical in your work, pay close attention to detail, have strong problem-solving skills
- Technical knowledge of cameras: have an in-depth understanding of all motion picture equipment, cameras, lenses, monitors and lights
- Understand the VFX pipeline: know the process through which visual effects are created
- Using software: use the data sharing application FileMaker Pro, be able to operate and maintain your data collecting equipment yourself
- Being efficient: work quickly and accurately on set so that the physical production can run smoothly, organise and prioritise your tasks