Importance of pipeline

Just found my notes at one of my favourite talks at FMX this year: ‘How to Approach a CG Production’ by Kay Delventhal.

A 2nd year once told me it was difficult to develop a pipeline because you simply do not have the time to when making your 2nd or 3rd year film. So I figured I could start building tools and pushing a good working procedure if I start early and start working out and gain experience in what needs to be done.

Although my notes seemed to be an utter mess and half is missing, I’m going to try and store down what I got so I don’t forget this:

Pre-production is about definitions – defining the creativity(visual development), technology(tools), and budget(time). Design, workflow, production plan, asset creation + pipeline development:

Pre-production: Figuring out what needs to be done and how to do it

It is important to know what needs to be done so time isn’t wasted doing what isn’t going to be in a shot.
Naming Conventions + Folder Structure

The pipeline involves passing work down to so many people that it is important to make sure your files and folders are named and placed in an appropriate way so that people do not waste time finding exactly what they’re looking for.
The filename has to:
  • identify purpose and content
  • be constant and stable (especially for referencing)
  • have all the information in the name
  • be unique
There are two types of files:
  • WIP(Work in Progress) & Pipeline (.ma, .psd)
  • Master Files (Final) (.mb, .tga, .tiff)


  • No blank spaces or special symbols. Remember_your_underscores~!
  • Never use temp names
  • Never use the word ‘final’
  • Maya WIP files are .ma
  • Maya Master files are in .mb (Faster)
Keep in mind; assets for example characters can change names during production which you may need to work around. The part of the name that changes the least is on the left side, and the part that changes the most (e.g version) is on the right.
Shortening words:
It is useful to shorten words for naming conventions, e.g:
  1. Project name: “Final Project 2011”
  2. Join words with Capital First Letters: “FinalProject2011”
  3. Remove vowels, double letters and whatever isn’t needed: FnlPrj11
Asset types are usually 3 letters for example:
Rigging specific: JPL (Joint Placement), RIG (Rig), SKN (Skinning), FCS (Facial Setup)
Sample filename:
[WIP File]

It will typically contain:
  • Project Name: e.g. FP11 or FnlProj11
  • Asset Type: e.g. CHR (Character)
  • (Sequence)
  • (Asset Name)
  • (Shot)
  • Workstage – e.g MDL (Modelling)
  • (Comments)

Versioning Files
Typically, we version files either by adding _001 or _v001 for WIP files. You can also add the date: YYYYMMDD so the file becomes and the version resets for each new date.
Master files don’t have numbers, if it does it is only for referencing.
I’ll do the rest (on folder structures) tomorrow.


I remember when I first got into animation, before I had any idea of the many roles in productions, before I even knew what a TD was, one of the lines that stuck to me was from Richard William’s The Animator’s Survival Kit

“If drawn ‘classical’ animation is an extension of drawing, then computer animation can be seen as an extension of puppetry – high tech marionettes.”

I loved the idea of puppetry, I’ve always wanted to work in animation, but I rebelled in the thought of being an artist. How funny now a rigger can also be known as a puppeteer.