Meet the team: Dee Coureau


Describe your professional background before joining Ynput

After a mathematics-oriented scholarship, I pursued computer graphics after my graduation. My career started in 1999 as a Compositing Artist at MacGuff Line, a renowned French studio at the time. My expertise in VFX grew through through my work on movies by my idols, like Gaspar Noé’s Irreversible or Jan Kounen’s Blueberry. I quickly took charge of smaller commercial spots as CG Supervisor and began developing tools to enhance team efficiency and explore alternative workflows. This led me to join the R&D team, where I contributed to the early stages of what later would be known as the “Pipeline”. We eventually developed an Asset and Workflow Manager named “InK” for projects like Dragon’s Hunter and Despicable Me. Following Illumination’s acquisition of our studio, InK continued to power their blockbusters like The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Migration.

With 12 years of experience, I wanted to give back to the open source community. As the Head of R&D at Supamonks Studio, we developed Kabaret, an open source VFX and Animation Studio Framework. Kabaret has been instrumental in numerous projects over its 10+ years of service. The most recent projects include Minuscule – Mandibles From Far Away as Project Manager for Supamonks and Rabbids Invasion: Mission to Mars as Head of Production Technology at Ubisoft Film & Television.

During 10 years as Head of R&D at Supamonks, CTO of Ubisoft Animation Studio, and Head of Production Technology for Ubisoft Film and Television, I saw the pipeline scene grow globally and invested my time with the French community. Through, we’ve helped the recognition of the pipeline as a profession and influenced the government to create official TD qualifications, paving the way for new educational courses. Additionally, with the Open Mind studio circle, we’ve helped break inter-studio collaboration, sharing technologies and experiences to enhance overall quality and efficiency.

My alignment with OpenPype’s philosophy was instant and natural. After a stint as Head of Pipeline at Fortiche for ‘Arcane’ season two and other undisclosed projects, I am thrilled to join Milan and the Ynput team as AYON’s Product Manager. This role feels like both an achievement and a personal fulfillment. The culmination of 25 years in the industry feels like the perfect foundation for making an international impact, which I find incredibly exhilarating! o/


What has been your biggest professional challenge before joining Ynput?

Finding the sweet spot between freedom and automation is the holy grail for pipeline engineers. As a system designer, my biggest challenge has always been – and will always be – to craft a solution which removes technical burdens from the Artists without limiting their creativity or freedom. My years as an artist were a big plus in this endeavor as I knew from scratch what the users feel, want and need. But it’s by studying other industries and growing my tech culture that I have been able to bring the best to the productions. I remember a time being baffled by the fact that we needed 18 months to make a feature film, whereas launching a satellite into orbit could be achieved in just 4 months. The creative industry is very special and its peculiarities are the reason I love it so much. But other industries have tackled similar challenges than the ones we face, and adapting solutions from “less creative” industries does not diminish our own creativity.

Eventually, I realised that our challenge lies in the evolution and segregation of concerns, akin to other collaborative systems. The Reactive Manifesto has been a guiding principle for me, consistently reminding me to keep user satisfaction at the forefront of our technology design. This approach has been instrumental in addressing and overcoming the significant challenges in my career before joining Ynput.

Can you share a significant professional success or achievement prior to Ynput?

I take considerable pride in achieving my missions in parallel to helping fellow pipeline engineers.
As Kabaret was open source, I’ve developed connections to many studios other than my employers and I was always happy to take some time to help them. This in turn helped me a lot since I could enlarge my vision to other contexts than the one I was paid to tackle.

Being given the mission of Head of Production Technology at Ubisoft Film and Television was a significant achievement for me because helping all our partner studios became my official day to day mission. More than just the recognition of my tech and managerial influx, this gave me opportunities to meet and bond with great people from various horizons. It also gave me the chance to finally dip my toes in some 2D productions, which I had been eager to discover for years.

What motivated you to join Ynput?

While Kabaret and AYON have very different audiences and approaches, both share the same vision of studio collaboration, open source and community driven ethos.

When I was CTO of Ubisoft Animation Studio, we started to explore the idea of a new framework to support our incoming productions outsourced to multiple studios. This scale was hitting the limits of what Kabaret had been designed for. At this same time, I remember reading the online discussions where Milan was sharing a glimpse of what AYON would be in a couple years, and the technical stack it would be built on. Intrigued, I reached out to Milan saying “Hey, we don’t know eachother but it looks like we’re both designing something very similar. Let’s talk!”

What should have been a quite technical discussion ended up being pretty philosophical about the challenges of open source, team energy, users and client satisfaction, and more. We turned this call into a regular meeting and there I was: part of the Ayon community without having ever used it!

Joining Ynput felt like the logical and eagerly anticipated next step in my professional journey, continuing my pursuit of developing technology that prioritises artist happiness and creativity.


How do you find working in an open source, community-driven environment like Ynput?

Our world runs on open-source technologies. Linux has changed everything. It took the opposite direction from ownership-based business and proved that transparency is the best method for trust. In this regard, working on open-source technologies is always, consciously or not, a political statement. But our world also runs on profit, and it makes living on open-source work a challenge. Experience tells us that a crucial asset for success is the community – probably even more than the code itself. It is paramount to keep users and contributors in a fulfilling and gratifying collaboration.

Ynput has embraced this from the beginning and has invested in nurturing the community as much as in polishing the code. After my experiences at different levels of the tech departments, I know my reward is in the users’ satisfaction even more than in the code itself. So I deeply believe that open source is the best way to grow happiness and feel proud as a group!

What will you be doing at Ynput?

As the Product Manager, my main responsibility is to ensure that AYON features and architecture align with our strategic objectives. I will closely work with the CTO, leveraging my understanding of the systems’ mechanics, the interactions between the components, and their impact on our users and business. For this, I’ll most notably lean on the expertise and feedback of each development team, but I will also bring my experience as a coder and a system designer to help them grow in their respective fields.

Even though coding has always been the fun part, my ability to understand complex interactions is my most valuable skill. A role of Product manager is the opportunity to come back closer to the code while helping the teams with my best!

Ayon operates in many studios and on many production types. I believe my years working for different studios and helping many others has prepared me for this plurality, and I know I’ll love it!


What are you most excited to begin working on at Ynput?

With the vast community AYON has and the variety of production styles it operates on, we get a chance to improve the lives of so many people in many different ways. It’s exciting to have so many opportunities to do good. Also, joining a team of like-minded people, professionally and personally, feels like an achievement.

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to work in your Role?

For system designers, cultivating a curiosity for technological developments is crucial. It’s by analysing both the successes and failures of others that you’ll refine your sense of architectural balance and your ability to preemptively identify potential issues. This means looking beyond your immediate field and considering lessons from other industries, even those that initially seem unrelated. Remember, success is often the culmination of numerous failures, so it’s just as important to study what didn’t work as what did.

As a pipeline coder/engineer, it’s crucial to prioritise the user’s needs over the satisfaction derived from coding or building. Sometimes, this means writing code that isn’t perfect or implementing a less-than-ideal solution because it’s deliverable. Brainstorming sessions with users are more productive when based on tangible results rather than hypothetical ones. Be open to the possibility that users might change their minds upon seeing a prototype, and be prepared to discover that your initial reasoning, no matter how sound, might have been off the mark.

Trust in the solution you offer is as important as the solution itself. Therefore, half of your job is to build trust with your users. The other half is developing a system that can adapt and evolve quickly, allowing for the easy implementation of new ideas and feedback. Remember, adopting an “I know better” attitude can hinder collaboration, even when you have the expertise. The most valuable skill in this field is the ability to say, “Let’s try it.” This approach is as much about building relationships as it is about technical proficiency.

How do you balance work with personal life?

Mixing money and passion is a challenge. I must admit I haven’t always managed to find the equilibrium. It took me years to understand that I needed to invest myself into something else with the same level of passion. This “something else” would need to be a physical thing in the real world to balance the virtual and impalpable nature of our projects.

In 2015, after discovering Niels Shoe Meulman’s Calligraffiti, I registered to become an official Calligraffiti Ambassador. Elected with 25 other worldwide artists, we were painting everywhere and we grew our facebook page to one million followers! This was achieving a real disconnection from work because I was passionate and I was learning so much from the most talented artists of the style. The collective collapsed a few years later due to fame challenges, but I kept calligraphy as a mind gateway and relaxation practice. When my brushes have been dry for too long, I know I need to ease off on work.

My inherent drive to solve problems led me to my latest hobby: designing an ergonomic keyboard that’s both effective and reasonably priced. Earlier this year I decided it was about time to fix what the heck is happening with our keyboards: why do we have to shed an arm and a leg to get our hands on a half-baked ergonomic keyboard? My hobby for the last few months has been to design the keyboard I’ve always wanted and make it available at a reasonable price.

This is a wonderful way to disconnect from work because the challenges and the results are tangible. And at the same time it makes me happy to get back to work life by enhancing daily comfort.

But then I discovered I also needed a way to balance my hobbies with my personal life ^o^

I built myself a sim racing cockpit and now and then I let off some steam by playing virtual rally driving. 
I know I should sleep more, exercise more, and quit smoking. That’s on 2024’s schedule and I have high expectations for the result. Above all, spending quality time with my kids and friends remains the most effective way to kill stress and enjoy life!


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