Senior Systems Administrator

  • Senior Systems Administrator

Visual effects production within the entertainment industry relies heavily on technology to deliver the impressive cinematic effects that audiences have come to expect. To keep the studio up on current innovations and systems running smoothly, production also relies on the computer specialists that are experts in all things tech.


As a member of a visual effects team, the senior systems administrator is chiefly responsible for the installation, configuration, administration, and maintenance of all computer hardware and software systems within the studio. To assist in these ongoing tasks, the senior administrator will typically have a small junior staff, which he or she will supervise.

Among other common responsibilities on the job, the senior systems administrator is tasked with ensuring all workstations have the proper software and seeing to it that users’ licenses are up to date and correctly registered. In addition, he or she configures and maintains in-house servers and networking functions, the render farm, as well as security and authentication protocols. Naturally, this individual is the go-to IT specialist who will be called upon to fix smaller issues, like troubleshooting modeling software and calibrating monitors for correct aspect ratio and color.

On an ongoing basis, the senior systems administrator is relied upon to research and evaluate new software or hardware systems that may improve asset creation within the studio, as well as identifying areas where new technology can make the production pipeline more efficient.

Skills & Education

The role of the senior systems administrator is a highly skilled position that requires considerable experience and education. Among the proficiencies required for the position are server administration and certification, such as Linux/Unix systems; management of Windows and Mac operating systems, render farm management, troubleshooting visual effects applications such as Maya and Nuke; experience with software licensing procedures; and network installation. Additionally, the individual in the role must have a background in visual effects art or computer animation, which includes an understanding of film imagery, image file formats, and the structure of VFX pipelines. A college degree in computer science is beneficial in this role, as is a degree in computer animation or digital art and design. Supplemental professional certification courses may be required to meet specific employment qualifications.

What to Expect

As a senior-level position, the systems administrator must have several years of professional experience within the visual effects industry or closely related field, such as feature animation or game design. With a college degree and proper certifications, a recent graduate may find employment opportunities as a junior-level systems administrator within a studio; this will provide the necessary hands-on experience to acclimate to the industry and prepare for advancement to the senior level. As with any area of technology, the field of visual effects is constantly evolving; it is the responsibility of the senior systems administrator to stay current on emerging technology in order to deliver timely and relevant advice to studio management personnel.


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