It is really hard to make people realize the importance of animation pipeline, especially to whom not in this field. As long as you learnt something CG related and some 3D packages(ex, Maya), you will soon pick “animation pipeline”, the industry term, up from somewhere and treat it as a normal process of a group of people.
The following image I borrowed from Computer Graphics Quarterly, Volume 44 is some kinda interesting stuff for you to visually perceive the routine process of lighting. In the right column is a normal lighting pipeline. You can tell it starts from opening a Maya, doing some shader init setup, shader setup, lighting layout, … rendering and once again, ….
It might be the right time to build a animation pipeline 2.0 through much more strict viewpoint of computer scientists by making use of the present techniques from different fields, like cloud computing, mixing of gpu’s real-time rendering and cpu’s high-quality rendering, artistic driven modeling/shading/lighting, …
Don’t just rely on what you have from 3D/CG/CV softwares/packages because it starts changing and soon or later, your competitor will work in ten times speed than yours!