Michael Dolan

Software Engineer, Pipeline & Compositing TD

michdolan@gmail.com  |   |   | 



My life and digital art have been synonymous. Since preschool I have loved tinkering with computers, art and design, and this passion has become my career.

I worked as a freelance designer and video editor throughout college in Minneapolis, studying graphic design, visual effects and motion graphics. After earning my bachelor's degree in the field in 2006, I took a 6 month hiatus to adventure around the US in a van and see as many beautiful things as possible. 42 states and twenty-something national parks later, I got hired to create broadcast visual effects and motion graphics in Virginia Beach. This position on a small production team entailed everything from directing and on-set VFX supervision to full CG production and compositing.

After 4 years in television and some film side projects, I took a compositing job in the automotive visualization industry in Detroit for 3DEXCITE (then RTT). For 2 years I learned to light and comp cars. At the same time my interests bled more and more into the R&D and programming side of CG and in 2012 I made the switch into full time pipeline and tool development. I spent the next 3 years collaborating on development projects across the gamut of artist-facing and back end disciplines, with a focus on Nuke and compositing processes. 

In 2015, I made the move out west to work on the feature film VFX and animation pipeline at Sony Pictures Imageworks in Vancouver. I contribute to a broad range of 2D and 3D tools and workflows, supporting supes and artists on all active shows, with a primary role as a Nuke pipeline developer.

My background as an artist has been one of my greatest strengths as a developer. Knowing the lure of taking a shot from obscurity to final continues to fuel my imagination. While my niche is compositing and image processing, I have also written tools in and around 3D, project and asset management, and the many faces of the web. I love being challenged, learning and creating. For me code has become an art form.

When I'm not working, or pursuing various personal code and art projects, you'll likely find me chilling with my wife and two sons, who love to play and keep me sane. We enjoy traveling, hiking, reading, movies, church, and just generally having adventures together.

Sony Pictures Imageworks current studio


Technical Direction

Whether it's pipeline innovation and automation, integrated 2D/3D tool development, or just troubleshooting day to day production issues; I love geeking out to solve CG challenges.


I am certified by The Foundry as a NUKE trainer, and specifically enjoy helping artists understand the more technical sides of NUKE. Whether the Python API, BlinkScript and Expression nodes, or general compositing math and processes, I strongly believe in empowering artists to contribute to the wider pipeline.

I am frequently tasked with implimenting new interfaces and functionality into NUKE, and am well acquainted with its many strengths and quirks. I have a lot of experience with PySide and PyQt (Python Qt bindings), whose integration has opened infinite possibilites of customization. I have poured years of work into efficient compositing processes in and around NUKE.


Large scale CG production can't happen without project and asset management systems. Artists hate tedium, producers hate being in the dark and frankly, we're all inconsistent and error-prone humans. Automating these processes in an intuitive way is an art in itself.

I have learned from and collaborated with great teams of engineers and CG supes on multiple breeds of production pipelines; from feature film VFX and animation, to automotive and aerospace visualization, to network television. With experience as an artist and developer, I have worked with a wide variety of CG software and development environments:

» CG/VFX – Nuke, Maya, Modo, Mari, Katana, Photoshop, After Effects, SynthEyes, PFTrack, Mocha, Substance, Unreal Engine
» Renderers - Arnold, MentalRay, Modo, OctaneRender, Maxwell
» Other – RV, Shotgun, Rush, Jenkins, Ant, Jira
» OS – Linux, Windows, OSX

On top of helping write a pipeline, I have also spent a good amount of time training and supporting artists who use it. Even the best systems can fall apart when they aren't used properly, and I have often been the first line of support. This role also carries the benefits of seeing my tools at work and getting constant feedback on improving them.


From computer graphics and creative coding to web and desktop productivity applications, I am continually experimenting in the vast landscape of software development. With Moore's law hard at work and a vibrant open source community, there is always something to learn and someone to be inspired by.

I love imagining clear, efficient and intelligent solutions to complex problems. I have worked solo and on teams and have gained experience in many languages, with a wide array of frameworks and libraries:

» Python - PyQt, PySide, PyOpenImageIO, PyOpenColorIO, PyOpenCV, PyOpenGL, PyAlembic, Numpy, Django, ZeroMQ
» Python APIs - Nuke, Modo, Mari, Katana, Maya, Mocha
» C/C++ - Qt, OpenImageIO, OpenColorIO, OpenCV, OpenEXR, OpenGL, Alembic, openFrameworks, CUDA, Boost, Protocol Buffers
» C++ SDKs - Nuke (NDK)
» GLSL - Vertex, geometry and fragment shaders
» C# - ASP.NET MVC, Entity Framework, Unity3D
» JavaScript - AngularJS, jQuery, Bootstrap
» JavaScript APIs (ExtendScript) - Photoshop, After Effects
» HTML5/CSS3 - Bootstrap
» ActionScript - Flex (Spark/MX), GSAP
» Source Control - Git, Mercurial, TFS, SVN

Besides my professional work, I am currently in progress on several personal development projects; a C++/GLSL/CUDA real-time 3D particle simulation application for interactive installations, and an ongoing project writing PySide widgets and Python components for a node-based compositor.

Michael Dolan 2014
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