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People & Culture

Inside Scoop | Shajy Thomas, Regional Head of Technology Infrastructure

April 4, 2023

As we shine the torch on our fascinating team, we reveal what working inside Technicolor is like. Shajy Thomas, Regional Head of Technology Infrastructure, APAC at Technicolor Group in Bangalore, discusses his role, the impact of technology in the M&E sector and why Technciolor continues to be the industry leader in creating and distributing content in a seamless manner across the globe. 

Talk us through your role and journey at Technicolor Group.

I joined Technicolor nine years ago to oversee the Technology department for MPC Bangalore. My main goal was to build out all the capabilities for large-scale VFX production in Bangalore which began with adding new creative departments. In my current role, I head the Technology Infrastructure – Asia Pacific for MPC, The Mill, Mikros Animation, and Technicolor Games. Being able to learn from and work with the best creative and technical minds in the industry has made this an exciting journey.

During my career, I have initiated and implemented 24×7 Global Technical Operations handling functions for Renders, Cloud, Data, built a software and R&D team of 130, as well as onboarded and consolidated multiple new business units in India.

How similar or different is the technology in M&E compared to other organisations?

As far as the technology play and implementations are concerned, all domains are different, whether they are in the M&E sector or any others like – Aerospace, Automotive, Life Sciences. Some of the similarities between them can be found in Simulations, Visualization, Large Data, HPC, and Cloud usage. At Technicolor Group, we are engaged in large-scale productions of VFX, Animation and Games content with locations established throughout the world. Therefore, we have a very large footprint for Data, HPC renderings, and Cloud requirements. It is vital that we not only conduct proprietary research internally, but also partner with leading technology manufacturers and solutions providers to create and deploy the right platform for us. Considering the intensity of our digital workload, our infrastructure and core platform have been developed and designed to handle tremendous loads. To put some numbers in perspective, approximately 160TB of data traverses our global technology network daily, 250 billion data points are tracked on the data lake platform, and billions of requests are handled by the micro services (5000-10000 per second) – this is at a scale like some of the largest public cloud providers.  In addition, we also work with cutting-edge technologies such as VR, AR, and Realtime. Our focus continues to be on optimisation and improving efficiency.

Which technology-led change do you foresee will have the greatest impact in the future of creative tech industries?

In the wake of the pandemic, we have seen the emergence of many new ideas and innovations, as well as an increased acceptance of change. Among the leading tech trends are Virtual/Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning.

A wide range of possibilities for real time asset building and shot production has opened with the advancement of motion capture, facial animation, and real time render capabilities. Whether it is for virtual production, AR/VR-based visual experience, or multiplayer gaming, the key is to have the right application of technology and integrate it into the process. The AIML space is undergoing a great deal of R&D, whether it is for automating and accelerating VFX workflows and processes or for creating interactive characters and environments. Once again, the key is to combine creativity with the appropriate tools.

Due to the increasing demand for content creation, distribution, and consumption, the amount of data and rendering required has increased dramatically. Therefore, it is imperative that all studios work on optimizing at all stages of the process so that sustainability can be maintained. Furthermore, I encourage the use of renewable energy sources whenever possible. Our business requires scalability and flexibility, so we should make our applications native and adopt the cloud appropriately.

What is the most rewarding thing about being at Technicolor Group?

Our philosophy at work is to learn, grow, and have fun. This comes with a major focus on the development, investment, and support of new technologies and skills to support the scale and diversity of multiple businesses across the company. As a 107-year-old organization, we have also had the privilege of working on world-class pipelines and processes in leading animation, VFX, advertising, and games studios.

Every project presents its own set of challenges, and working with the best creative, production, and technology professionals to resolve them, strategize for the next, and see the amazing results always keeps us on our toes. We design and maintain one of the largest data storage, networks, HPC farms, and cloud infrastructures to support large-scale VFX, Animation and Game productions, it is quite thrilling. As new ways of working become available, we are constantly striving to innovate and adapt, while also being practical and forward-thinking.

Tell us about your recent award “Top 100 CIO”.

Being recognized is always an honour. I was selected for the “Top 100 CIO 2023” award, which recognizes individuals who have successfully implemented a paradigm shift using innovative IT solutions to enable multi-fold business growth. This also positions Technicolor’s technology among the top organizations in the world. Besides demonstrating our ability to leverage advanced technologies and build new-age solutions for the industry, this also shows how dedicated and hardworking the team is.

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