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5c Challenges and approaches for archiving (and appraising) visual effects industry records

Presentation Description

The visual effects (VFX) industry holds both financial and cultural importance in Australia and other regions in the world, employing thousands of artists to digitally generate imagery for wide-reaching media content for big and small screens. Using an array of ever-developing technologies, commercial software and bespoke tools and code, VFX artists craft and combine 3D models, animations, environments and lighting elements output as “shots” for film and television productions.  Archiving VFX is a challenging process requiring strategies to ensure digital records, including computer-generated imagery, will be understandable and usable into the future—beyond the lifespan of most software applications. An important step for archiving VFX is appraising the records to ensure that ongoing retention is focused on only those records selected as having enduring value. But how should we go about selecting VFX records for preservation as archives?  This paper presentation will outline my collaborative research with the VFX industry to investigate their records and archiving practices. It includes findings about how VFX companies currently manage their records, which types are generally produced and archived, as well as viewpoints from my interviews with VFX practitioners about which records they think should be archived.  Drawing from the Records Continuum model, I will also present an appraisal model to illustrate the potential of VFX archives to reach and intersect with areas outside of VFX, to support various modes of practice, theory and enquiry over time.  Working with VFX practitioners to understand their records and archiving has been a rewarding and challenging area of research. I hope that through my research, the VFX industry will start to recognise the importance of preserving and safeguarding evidence of their innovative work into the future.

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