Meet three Disney technologists: Deni, Lead Application Architect with Disney Parks, Experiences & Products Technology & Digital; Andy, Director, Real-Time Media Engineering, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution; and Crystal, Partner Operations Manager, Disney Streaming. All three employees have been with The Walt Disney Company during the COVID-19 pandemic and are sharing their daily responsibilities, what it was like to develop cutting-edge technology while working from home and what it means to work with Disney technology in the ever-evolving age of innovation.
Each day is different for technologists at Disney, from merging the physical and digital worlds of the theme park experience to pioneering the latest technology in general entertainment and sports, Disney technologists have a depth and breadth of unparalleled opportunities.
Deni: “My current responsibilities revolve around working with our business partners to gather requirements for any new and upcoming projects, taking those requirements and creating a detailed technical solution that I would present among my peers and finally delivering that solution to the development team in order to create the final product.”
Andy: “My job is to oversee the development of a handful of ‘version one’ projects, pipelines and products that leverage real-time technology meant to scale across lines of business at the company. This ranges from linear animation production, broadcast virtual production, and real-time immersive experiences… With every project we work on, we evaluate how it can scale beyond just an initial prototype, and make sure that whatever pipelines we build can be evolved and scaled for larger use-cases.”
Crystal: “My team and I are responsible for the execution of direct-to-consumer external partnerships, synergy campaigns and internal initiatives globally across our streaming services: Disney+, ESPN+ and Star+. We partner with internal and external stakeholders to ensure the successful launch of high value brand partnerships, encompassing the execution of offers for external partnerships and internal campaigns, as well as maintaining alignment with key stakeholders across the org. on the launch of wholesale partnerships integrated via application programming interface (API).”
Innovation at Home
Innovation is in the foundation of what Disney technologists do. Our technologists are constantly elevating, evolving and forging the future of technology to always be one step ahead when creating the latest in immersive entertainment experiences, all while at home.
Deni: “During 2020 when COVID-19 first broke out and we all had to work remotely, our team was in the middle of an important project surrounding the Resort Valet System. The system had to be rewritten from scratch to meet with new security and compliance standards. We worked closely with the vendor to get these devices working from our home to be able to perform final financial and security validations. Delivering this project proved to be extremely rewarding because despite the global pandemic and device challenges, our team was able to deliver the project on time with our original projection.”
Andy: “Our team had only been working together as a fully staffed team for about two months before we had to shift to work-from-home at the start of the pandemic. We had just launched into production of our second season of ‘Baymax Dreams’ and had six months to finish development on our first two episodes. Our group consists of a bunch of creative technologists, and roles and responsibilities are assigned on a project-by-project basis, so it took some tweaking and refining to get everyone aligned. Throwing in remote connections into workstations, remote audio records done from the talent’s closets and other technology hurdles, it really could have hurt the project, but the team was able to pull together and employ creative strategies to stay connected and collaborate remotely.”
Crystal: “Like many other companies, our teams shared some initial challenges from the shift to remote work – the clearest one being the fact that most of our new team members started remote. Although there were some innate road bumps with this shift, our team wholeheartedly believes in the baseline values of open communication, teamwork and trust and weaving that into how we work with one another to still proffer that sense of community.”
Only with Disney Tech
As a Disney technologist, there are opportunities to innovate in ways that are only available at The Walt Disney Company, especially during a global pandemic.
Deni: “One month you might be working on a specific tech stack designing an app to help guests with parking, and in another month, you could be designing and implementing an app that helps our cast members in their day-to-day jobs. Not only is the technology diverse but so are the projects and the great creative cast that we work with every day!”
Andy: “On the tech-front, we’re constantly building pipelines that are meant to be malleable and effective at adjusting and refining to the needs of our content partners across the company… As consumer technologies and platforms advance, we’re seeing more areas of opportunity to deploy real-time pipelines to immerse Disney’s audiences even deeper into the worlds we build. I can’t think of another company in the world where I can be working with the largest sports brand on virtual production use-cases in the morning, then switch gears into talking about linear TV animation in the afternoon and be able to engage in meaningful ways with both.”
Crystal: “As the world continues to evolve and the way consumers think about entertainment continues to evolve, we are at a very exciting and pivotal moment in time where entertainment consumption is shifting, and the pie is trending towards Direct-To-Consumer and streaming. Given the rate in which Disney Streaming is maturing, our team is intent on continuing to also mature. There is a strong sense of pride when you work here – and knowing you are bringing the most beloved content to people all over the world, it makes what we do all the worthwhile.”
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