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Visual Effects Society urges Hollywood to let VFX artists work remotely during coronavirus crisis

Adam Driver in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
Adam Driver in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” VFX artists who work on such effects-heavy films are demanding to work from home during the coronavirus outbreak.
(Lucasfilm)

The Visual Effects Society, a leading organization representing VFX artists, has called on studios and the film industry to support efforts to allow people to work from home due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

In a statement Monday, the Visual Effects Society said it “wants to encourage all employers — large or small — to grant permission for their employees to work remotely during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We understand the concerns around security to protect proprietary work product, but right now is the time for the utmost flexibility towards VFX artists and all practitioners as we try to figure our way through this crisis. Many companies are trying to take action, and we are optimistic that studios and vendors can find and enact workable solutions.”

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To aid in that effort, the organization’s technology committee has offered guidance for working from home, in concert with studios, vendors and facilities.

The organization’s statement comes during a time when many VFX artists have had to continue to work on-site even as film and TV production has shut down in compliance with government regulations to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Last week, Mario Rokicki, a color supervisor at Double Negative in Vancouver, Canada, launched a petition on change.org in the form of an open letter to the Motion Picture Assn., imploring the industry to “allow VFX artists to work remotely.”

To date, the petition has received nearly 9,000 signatures.

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Many VFX artists are required to work on-site because of stringent nondisclosure agreements they must sign intended to protect intellectual property and prevent leaks and copyright theft. Such agreements have also made working remotely difficult, as workers generally aren’t allowed to take materials off-site because of security compliances.

In recent weeks, in wake of the global pandemic, a number of studios, including Sony Imageworks and Industrial Light and Magic, have undertaken efforts to give many of their VFX artists the ability to work remotely.


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