Media Production Systems Administrator

San Francisco, CA
Full Time

About the Opportunity
Are you a talented systems administrator, 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 Media Production Systems Administrator plays an integral role in the creation of beautiful, cutting-edge science media showcased in the Morrison Planetarium and other science institutions around the world. This position helps design and maintain the infrastructure of the in-house computer systems for the award winning Visualization Studio (Viz Studio). Also supports a small team of visual effects artists, animators, videographers, and editors who create science visualizations, animations, and fulldome imagery for planetarium programs. In addition, helps troubleshoot animation software, build and design custom tools/scripts, keep hardware systems up-to-date, and ensure security and stability. This position reports to the Senior Producer, Immersive Media.

Organizational Culture
Join a team dedicated to the Academy’s mission, vision and values! Currently, the Academy has a new strategic plan including three initiatives – Hope for Reefs, Thriving California, and Islands 2030 – that leverage biodiversity science, environmental learning, and collaborative engagement to regenerate fragile ecosystems around the world. Learn more at

We hope you are inspired by what we do and are excited to contribute to our mission. The mission of the California Academy of Sciences is to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. The Academy is looking for candidates who do great work, and we know they may come from a number of different backgrounds and experiences. We encourage you to apply even if you do not believe you meet every one of the qualifications for the position.

This position is based in San Francisco, California. This position is expected to work on-site from the Academy offices 5 days per week during the first 90-days of onboarding, but may change to 3-4 days per week thereafter, based on business needs. Please do not apply if you are not able to work onsite. Candidates are required to have up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination, including receiving a booster shot, as a condition of employment, absent qualifying exemptions in accordance with applicable laws. Individuals receiving a conditional offer of employment from the California Academy of Sciences will be provided the full text of the vaccination policy.

About the Morrison Planetarium and Visualization Studio Team
The Academy's Morrison Planetarium and Visualization Studio (MPVS) is where science storytelling comes to life. Since reopening in 2008, the Academy’s Morrison Planetarium has brought immersive science visualization to over seven million guests in various programs. Most of those immersive experiences leverage data-driven science storytelling created by the Academy’s award-winning Visualization Studio. With over a century of collective experience in visual effects and animation, the team has produced eight award-winning fulldome video planetarium programs, as well as videos and computer graphics for exhibits and online venues.

Key Responsibilities

  • Build, configure, and maintain the artist's workstations, keeping continuity between machines and versions
  • Upgrade and maintain the central storage array to make sure the artists have consistent access to digital assets
  • Work with our IT team to ensure the Visualization Studio meets or exceeds the security requirements of the organization
  • Remediation of the Visualization Studio’s render farm system (increase the tools, install new versions, update internally developed software, and implement a more patchable base environment)
  • Assist the Planetarium and Production Engineer in implementing automation solutions for the planetarium show productions
  • Provide support and coverage for planetarium systems operations and render farm, with night and weekend shifts, as needed
  • Perform other job-related duties as assigned    

Qualifications: A successful candidate will have the following:
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:

Required and Preferred:  

  • 2+ years of experience hands-on computer systems technical work, including design, installation, troubleshooting, and maintenance
  • Experience in visual effects, real-time graphics, science visualization or audio/visual production environment is a plus!
  • Linux/Mac systems and data server administration experience: RHEL7 or CentOS 7, Mac OS X
  • Good understanding of TCP/IP networking, ethernet configuration, fiber switches; proven ability to troubleshoot and resolve network issues in a timely manner
  • Knowledge of render server, 3D and video production workstation architecture, custom CentOS and Mac OS X operating system image testing and deployment
  • Comfortable scripting with high-level languages (e.g., Python)
  • Experience with visual effects software (e.g. Houdini, Maya, Blender, Nuke, Adobe CC) and a good understanding of 3D and 2D computer graphics and visual effects workflows (preferred)
  • Job management software experience (e.g. PipelineFX Qube) (preferred)

Required and Preferred:             

  • Self-starter with solid problem-solving abilities, a willingness to learn, attention to detail, excellent communication skills, and a sense of humor
  • Works well with cross-discipline and cross-departmental teams
  • An open collaborator who tracks/shares projects’ progress proactively and regularly
  • Virtual environments and virtual machines' knowledge
  • Remote workstation, cloud storage and computing familiarity
  • Knowledge of AR, VR, Fulldome, or 360° Video pipelines (preferred)

Physical Environment:
To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential job duty satisfactorily. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable qualified individuals with disabilities to perform essential job functions.

  • Primarily an on-site position, providing direct support to show production systems
  • 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 30 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

Compensation and Benefits
Hourly hiring range: $36.06-$38.46 per hour. Hourly rate will vary based on experience and relevant skills/knowledge set. The Academy offers a total compensation package that emphasizes both base salary and comprehensive benefits.
Schedule: Full-time, 40 hours per week.

Review of applications will begin on May 22, 2023, and will continue until the position is filled.

Please upload your resume and complete the brief online application

The California Academy of Sciences will give full consideration for employment to 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, status, and gender expression), religion (all aspects of religious beliefs, observance or practice including religious dress or grooming practices), reproductive health decision-making, marital or domestic partner status, age, place of birth, national origin or ancestry, physical, mental or medical disability, height or weight, sex, sexual orientation, citizenship, military service status, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law or local ordinance.


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