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California Academy of Sciences

San Francisco, California - United States
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Planetarium Production Systems Engineer


Are you a talented engineer, looking for an opportunity to make science films that change the world?  Would you like to apply your technical skills to transform how people see their connection to our planet, nature and the cosmos?   The Planetarium Production Systems Engineer will play an integral role in the creation of beautiful cutting-edge science content showcased in San Francisco and planetariums around the world.  You will maintain and improve the infrastructure of our in-house, award winning science visualization studio comprised of a small team of visual effects artists creating science visualizations, animations, and full dome imagery for planetarium programs. This position reports to the Visual Effects Supervisor.

The California Academy of Sciences welcomes people of all backgrounds, identities and beliefs to join us in achieving our mission to explore, explain, and sustain life on Earth.  We place diversity, equity, and inclusion at the heart of our recruiting efforts and strive to build a culture centered on mutual respect, equal treatment, and the opportunity to succeed.


- Maintain and improve network, storage and render farm infrastructure in support of the science visualization team creating high resolution image sequences generated from large 3d models, animations, textures and scientific datasets
- Update and maintain visual effects software and operating system environments 
- Provide desktop support to workstations for 6-10 artists in Linux and Mac environments
- Maintain and operate the planetarium playback system for dailies screenings
- Install/de-install equipment and generate/maintain documentation of systems
- Collaborate with expert consultants and Viz staff on long term design, planning and budgeting of future hardware and software infrastructure and cloud-based services
- Maintain and improve disaster recovery, backup and archive strategy

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily.  The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required or preferred.  A qualified candidate will possess a combination of the following:

- 1+ years working in a visual effects, real-time graphics, science visualization or similar audio/visual production environment
- Linux/Mac systems and data server administration experience: RHEL7/CentOS 7, macOS 
- Good grasp of TCP/IP networking, ethernet configuration, fiber switches; proven ability to troubleshoot and resolve network issues in a timely manner
- Experience with visual effects software and good understanding of 3D and 2D computer graphics and visual effects workflows
- Knowledge of render server, 3D and editorial workstation architecture, custom CentOS and Mac operating system image testing and deployment
- Demonstrated track record with software engineering best practices
- Comfortable scripting with high level languages (e.g., Python)
- Works well with cross-discipline and cross-departmental teams
- Open collaborator who tracks/shares projects’ progress proactively and regularly
- Self-aware self-starter with solid problem solving abilities, works systematically and with care, has a high attention to detail, excellent communication skills and a sense of humor

A plus if you have:

- Houdini, Maya, Blender, Nuke, Adobe CC knowledge and experience
- Job management software experience (e.g., PipelineFX Qube)
- Virtual environments and virtual machines knowledge
- Cloud storage and computing familiarity

Ability to read and fully comprehend documents such as safety rules, operating and maintenance instructions, and procedure manuals. Ability to write daily reports and correspondence. Ability to speak effectively before groups or individuals.  Bilingual (spoken and/or written) in Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, or other non-English language preferred but not necessary. 
The physical demands and work environment described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently required to stand, sit, walk, and reach with hands and arms, and talk or hear.  Must be able to lift 50 lbs.  Must be able to perform repetitive motions 50 % of the time.  Must be able to climb a ladder and work on aerial lifts.  Must be able to experience tight spaces and tolerate fan noise and low temperatures in server cold rooms.

Please submit your cover letter and resume online at Note that the recruitment timeline for positions vary and depend on many factors, so it is impossible to accurately predict when a position will close. We appreciate your patience during this process. No phone calls please. 

The California Academy of Sciences will consider for employment all qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with the requirements of the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance (SF Police Code, Article 49).
The California Academy of Sciences is an Equal Opportunity Employer and is committed to ensure that all employees and applicants receive equal consideration and treatment, regardless of race, color, creed, gender (including gender identity or gender expression), religion, marital or domestic partner status, age, national origin or ancestry, physical, mental or medical disability, sex, sexual orientation, citizenship, military service status, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law or local ordinance.
The California Academy of Sciences is a non-smoking facility. There is also no smoking in Golden Gate Park.

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