Berkeley Film & Media Seminar


BFMS Lecture Series: Leon Gurevitch – Digital Workshops of the World: Software, Source Code and Skills Migration in the Global VFX Industries

Fri, Nov 30, 2018, 1:00 am to 3:00 am

142 Dwinelle

Leon Gurevitch

Digital Workshops of the World: Software, Source Code and Skills Migration in the Global VFX Industries

Over the last three decades, a network of globally distributed digital visual effects (VFX) companies have arisen from Hollywood’s traditional base in Los Angeles. As Hollywood visual effects production adopted computational practices and technologies, what started out as a branch of computer sciences and their IT industry correlates hybridized. Neither ‘inside’ the Hollywood studios traditional financial structures, nor entirely outside the value chains attached to Hollywood’s film output, the VFX industries have functioned as networks of precarious creative industries, offering work for hire on a film by film, contract by contract basis. All of this has led to an industry defined by the migration of labor to an extent that has dwarfed even traditional Hollywood production. This talk considers the effects and migration of precarious labor, as well as the ensuing implications for the future of a Global Hollywood structured around computational production pipelines. Central to this research are both quantitative and qualitative research approaches that combine interviews with Movie, Games, and Animation professionals (Pixar, Dreamworks, ILM, Weta Digital, Blizzard, Square Enix) with a big data migration visualization tool. The tool details 80,000 migration paths of 30,000 digital image professionals — animators, coders, engineers and artists — across industry and the world over the past 30 years in order to tease out the networked relationships between software, source code, skills migration, and precarious labor in global VFX industries.

Leon Gurevitch is Associate Professor at Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Design, a fellow of the UCLA Cultural Analytics Data Research Group, and a Royal Society of New Zealand Research Scholar. Leon has published his work in Continuum, The Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, The Journal of Television and New Media, Senses of Cinema, and others. Leon currently lectures graduate and postgraduate courses in photographics, computational cultures, and systems design.

This event is cosponsored by the Berkeley Center for New Media

This event is free and open to the public.