Sumit Das - Vita



I am an experienced software engineer, designer and coder, most notably in c, c++, and python. I have also spent years working in production and interacting with artists, technical directors, software developers and producers. This diverse experience gives me a more global view, and the ability to understand and work well with people of varied backgrounds.

My graduate work was done in the early days of VR. I did my doctoral research at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory, where I worked on data visualization and helped to develop the first version of the CAVE, a projection-based VR system. My primary contribution to the CAVE was to design the sound system, including hardware specification, core software, and API.

Since then, I have worked in the animation and fx industry in various capacities - from software engineering and R&D, to character setup, to pipeline design, to fx artist. While my primary passion is developing large and long-term software systems, my experience with different user populations guides my design and coding decisions to be more user-centered and thus more appropriate for what the users need.

I am able to communicate well with both pure artists and hardcore technical workers, and as a result I have often found myself acting as a liaison between departments. Over the past few years, I have been focusing on efficiency problems brought on by poor or incomplete communication between departments or individuals with differing technical backgrounds or worldviews. This has resulted in increased efficiency and less user frustration.

There is nothing I like better than designing a system that "disappears" and simply allows the user to seamlessly get their work done. I truly enjoy the process of learning the viewpoint of a user base, and providing a system and UI that matches their thinking.


General Technical Director, Disney Animation, 2013-Present.


Develop tools and pipeline workflows for artists. Troubleshoot and fix artist scenes, debug problems they have with tools.

Worked with software department testing and maintaining parallel animation caching system (Parade). Explored features of new maya evaluation manager features (running deformer code on the GPU). Extended parallel weighted blend deformer to be able to deal with non-matching topologies and mesh densities.

Helped communication and understanding between production and software departments. Focused development on workflow efficiency in the pipeline. Negotiated between departments and supervisors, then designed and implemented rig node/attribute locking, and currently designing a framework for a check system to ensure data validity for rigs and other assets (to be extended to shots).

Projects: Big Hero 6, Giants (working title).
Languages: python, c++.

Head of Animation Pipeline, Sony Pictures Imageworks, 2009-2013.


Set and maintained front-end standards and tools across shows, drove pipeline refinement and development. Helped to define job descriptions and technical organization of animation pipeline TDs. Represented the front-end pipeline at cross-departmental "town councils" and at show technical planning meetings.

FX Artist, Sony Pictures Imageworks, 2008-2009.


Created various shot effects for G-Force, mainly using Houdini and Maya.

Character Pipeline Supervisor, Sony Pictures Imageworks, 2004-2008.


Supervised character pipeline and tool development for various films. Co-supervised a team to develop and maintain facility standards and tools across all Imageworks shows. Headed up a team to design, develop and maintain a pipeline for character setup and animation. Specified and helped to design source control system for multi-show production environment. Served as technical liason between character group and other departments. Developed hierarchical, modular character setup system. Developed rigs to allow closer integration of character and fx animation. Modified pipeline for large effects/character hybrid systems (G-Force).

Projects: Open Season, Surf's Up!, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, G-Force.

Senior Character Technical Director, Sony Pictures Imageworks, 2001-2003.


Set up and maintained characters for films. Developed tools for character setup and pipeline.

Projects: Chubb-Chubbs, Early Bloomer, Matrix II, Matrix III, Haunted Mansion, Cursed.
Languages: mel and c++.

Character Technical Director, PDI/DreamWorks, 1999-2001.


Set up and maintained characters for Shrek. Developed pipeline for skin generation and relaxation, researched dynamic skin. Developed tools for collision detection/response, deformation, software design and efficiency, user interfaces.

Languages: script (proprietary), c.

Research and Development Staff, PDI/DreamWorks, 1997-1999.


Developed software for particle systems, FX, and dynamic systems for CG characters in Antz. Implemented and supported tools: curve drawing/editing, rotoscoping, camera tracking, various setup tools.

Language: c.

Software Engineer, Xaos Inc., 1994-1997.


Designed long-term plan for software development, participated in specification and hiring of software team. Worked extensively with animators to determine software needs and streamline production process. Research and development on tools and systems for animators and programmers: Particle systems, metaballs, matting, viewing/fitting splines to motion capture data, UI for 3D manipulation and procedural animation. Animation and modeling for IMAX film The Magic of Flight, Formula 409 commercial, Intel promo.

Language: c++ (standalone and plugins for 3dsMAX).

Research Assistant, EVL, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1987-1994.


Audio research and development for The CAVE virtual environment. Research on physically based modeling, genetic algorithms, artificial life, generation and control of audio. Software development and data visualization for EVL industrial clients: Monsanto, American Express, North Chicago Medical School, UIC Business School. Software development for programming language RT/1: Added rendering (scanline zbuffer, Phong shading, texture mapping), control structures, improved memory management.

Languages: c, c++, RT/1 (propietary)

Programmer, Western Anchor, DeKalb, IL, Spring 1991.


Made modifications and additions to redistricting system used by Illinois State Congress, served as technical liaison to House and Senate users.

Language: c.

Intern, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY, Summer 1990.


Designed addition of rigid body dynamics to swish, a physically-based simulation system. Worked with Alan Norton and David Haumann.

Language: c++.

Biomedical Engineer, Hines VA Hospital, Hines, IL, summers 1989 and 1987.


Research in physically-based modeling of flexible bodies; collected and analyzed data for normal and amputee gaits, to aid in prosthesis design.

Language: c++.


Ph.D., Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL), Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), 1994. Dissertation: An Organization for High-Level Interactive Programmatic Control of Computer-Generated Sound. Explored new paradigms of sound control for use in the creation of multi-modal user interfaces, with practical applications in the areas of virtual reality and data visualization.

M.S.E.E., EVL, EECS Dept., UIC, 1989. Thesis: Multiprocessor Considerations for Visual Array Analysis. Ported RT/1 graphics programming language to the Truevision Vista Graphics Coprocessor; designed and implemented system to visually inspect large areas of memory.

B.S.E.E., EECS Dept., UIC, 1986. Major: Computer Science.


C++, C, openGL, Mel, Python, XML, PHP, HTML.
Houdini, Maya, 3dsMAX, PRMan, various proprietary tools for animation, dynamics, rendering, compositing, etc.
Also: JavaScript, ActionScript, Logic, various music production tools.