Visual Effects Society demands films stop misrepresenting VFX use

Oppenheimer review
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Following Oppenheimer neglecting to credit VFX workers, the Visual Effects Society has demanded change. 

Do you remember the story that emerged a month ago that claimed that whoever put the credits together forgot to mention around 80% of the VFX team that worked on Oppenheimer? Well that, along with the filmmaker’s somewhat misleading statements about there being no ‘computer-generated images’ in the film led to many of the VFX professionals who worked on it feeling more than a little put out.

Playing down the presence of VFX has become important to certain types of films and filmmakers as they look to enhance the ‘realness’ of their art, but comes at a cost to those artists (not to mention their art) who are rendered ‘invisible’ by this process.

Following something of an expose in The Hollywood Reporter at the end of July, The Visual Effects Society, which represents 4,500 members across 45 countries has now spoken out about this trend, rejecting it in strong terms. Here’s the full statement:

‘Respect and recognition for visual effects artists has been a longstanding issue across the global entertainment industry — and this story (VFX Pros Expose the Hidden Costs of Selling a Movie as ‘Real’) exposed a truth of what so many of our members and VFX practitioners have been grappling with for years. Once characterised as a postproduction role, visual effects pros are now part of the “first on/last off” essential crew, and VFX is an instrumental and ubiquitous part of the creative process. It is through VFX artistry and innovation that stories that were once impossible are brought to life. VFX artists deserve to be justly recognised and appreciated for their enormous contributions as agents of cinematic storytelling and significant contributors to financial profits — just like any other craft that is a key part of the creative collaborative — and not downplayed or cast into the shadows as if they are detractors dispelling an illusion of “pure” filmmaking.’

The statement goes on to add:  ‘Speaking in one voice for our more than 4,500 members in 45 countries worldwide — visual effects artists are proud of their work, of their craft, of pushing the envelope to use technology in service to the story. They are proud to work in partnership to bring visually stunning stories to the screen and enrapt audiences. And they absolutely deserve credit where credit is due, as the essential professionals they are. It’s high time to bring visual effects into the light and recognise what we can now achieve — together.’

Given that VFX workers already labour under some of the most unfavourable conditions within the film industry, to then not even receive due credit for their work is pretty poor. Let’s hope this statement gives those with influence pause for thought, because giving VFX work due credit goes beyond simply adding hundreds more names to the thousand that already roll by on a credit sequence. It means directors and stars publicly acknowledging that ‘invisible’ VFX work exists in key scenes, even if they are primarily practical.

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