Behind the Screens

Mei Chu, Sony Pictures Imageworks

By July 1, 2020July 20th, 2020No Comments

Mei Chu, Sony Pictures Imageworks

Mei Chu
Associate Software Engineer
Sony Pictures Imageworks

Tell us a bit about yourself – how did you get your start in visual effects and/or animation?

As a kid, I was fascinated by Pixar’s Toy Story so I went to school to learn how to be a part of this industry. Initially, my goal was to become an animator. But after doing some research and through schoolwork, I decided to focus on learning film VFX compositing. I started in this industry as a rotopaint artist and then a compositor at various studios in Vancouver. I started learning Python on my own to pursue a path of becoming a TD that eventually led me to Sony Pictures Imageworks.

What do you work on currently?

I am currently working in SPI’s software development group, focusing on Nuke. Generally, that means solving issues that compositors may have and also working towards the larger goals of our team. I am also involved in our colour pipeline which involves working with OpenColorIO, hence why I am a big fan of that particular Open Source project.

What was the first film or show you ever worked on? What was your role?

The first film I ever worked on was actually the last Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. I was a stereoscopic rotoscope artist on that film, which means I was separating out different elements of the final composited images into pieces for stereo-conversion. The first film I got a film credit for was Jack the Giant Slayer as a rotopaint artist at Digital Domain.

What has been your favorite film or show to work on and why?

There are many films to choose for all sorts of different reasons. Harry Potter for being my first film work in the industry, Jack the Giant Slayer for being my first film credit, and all of the shows I have supported so far as a developer. It is always great to be part of film productions that are passionate and lively.

What do you like about open source software? What do you dislike?

I like the highly collaborative aspect of Open Source development and seeing all of the hard work be used by others. Most importantly, it is great to be able to grow as a developer through feedback from fellow Open Source project peers.

Which open source projects are you involved in?

I am a member of and contribute to ASWF’s OpenColorIO. It is a great group of patient people who have helped me navigate my first Open Source project contributions – learning about proper contribution etiquette, keeping a clean git history and readable, and project-specific do’s and don’ts.

What advice would you offer other developers or software engineers interested in getting started with the Foundation?

It is entirely likely that as a developer in this industry, you already work with something that is part of ASWF. Sometimes it can be something that is running silently in the background like the case of OpenColorIO. So, start looking at that something you interact with every day and want to improve and get connected with that particular project.

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In Behind the Screens, we talk to developers and software engineers from across the motion picture and media industries to learn more about their work in visual effects and animation, how they use open source software, and their involvement in the Academy Software Foundation. If you are currently involved in the Academy Software Foundation or an open source project for motion pictures and would like to be featured in “Behind the Screens,” please email us