A few weeks back I wrapped my role on Toy Story 3. I should say my roles since I moved departments a couple of times. I worked in Sets Shading, and in GT, which stands for Global Technology. The name is not entirely appropriate since GT departments only write and maintain tools for their own show.
My new assignment is in the research group of Pixar, also called R&D. Each company has a department called like this, but in Pixar it takes an unusual meaning, for a Computer Graphics company. The role of R&D everywhere I have been in contact with or worked at was to write and support the tools and the pipeline used in the current and future productions.
At Pixar, part of R&D actually makes time to explore new solutions to problems that have not come up yet, publish papers, experiment. What is done there is not guaranteed to be applied to any production, depending on a number of factors, besides how successful the results of the research was. The members of the department are among the most famous and respected fathers of CG as we know it. We have some undergraduate and graduate students, and even professors taking a sabbatical year at Pixar.
So what am I doing now? Well, I am working on a project I cannot talk about, and if it is successful, it might be applied to an undisclosed future production. That was a very unsatisfactory answer was it not? Unfortunately that is all I can say at this point.