Visual Effects Community Urges Studios to Allow Artists to Work From Home

Security and non-disclosure agreements are cited as the holdup for keeping more work from continuing during this time.

The Visual Effects Society is urging employers to allow employees to work remotely during the coronavirus crisis. Meanwhile, a VFX artists' petition to Motion Picture Association chairman and CEO Charles H. Rivkin sends a similar message. In both cases, security and non-disclosure agreements are cited as the holdup for keeping more work from continuing during this time.

"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," the VES said Monday in a statement. "Many companies are trying to take action, and we are optimistic that studios and vendors can find and enact workable solutions."

The VES is also urging people to work from home for the health and safety of the community: "Many visual effects practitioners are still hard at work at studios and facilities around the world, when they might prefer to work remotely in this difficult time."

The VES statement is similar to the message in the aforementioned petition, which is addressed to Rivkin and has so far been signed by roughly 9,000 artists. It urges employers "to put aside often legal misguided IP protection measures and harsh NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) and allow tens of thousands of dedicated artists to work from home and prevent total VFX studios shutdown and layoffs."

The petition was started by Vancouver-based VFX pro Mario Rokicki.

Also on Monday, the VES Technology Committee issued best practices and guidance for working from home, culled from studios, vendors and facilities.

The text of the VES statement, as well as the petition, can be found below.

VES Statement

At this time of crisis, supporting the health and safety of our global visual effects workforce is of vital importance. Many visual effects practitioners are still hard at work at studios and facilities around the world, when they might prefer to work remotely in this difficult time. Municipalities worldwide have been enacting stringent public health protocols to help curb the spread of COVID-19, and that includes strong guidance for employees to work from home, whenever possible.

The Visual Effects Society 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.

To aid this transition to remote work, the VES Technology Committee has issued best practices and guidance for working from home, culled from studios, vendors and facilities. The recommendations are designed to help the VFX community by providing technical solutions to common problems practitioners may encounter in preparing and adapting to work from home workflows, acknowledging the security and technical issues involved.

Read the full cadre of work at home best practices here – https://bit.ly/2Ue8as3

Petition

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a global pandemic. It is spreading around the globe and will affect everybody with projected up to 70% of the population contracting the disease. The experts agree that to prevent unnecessary deaths mainly caused by overloading hospitals is to observe social distancing to ‘flatten the curve.’

Many high technology companies sent their staff home and provide remote working capabilities. Unfortunately VFX Studios around the globe that work on projects for the Hollywood Studios and Streaming Companies are prevented from providing remote working solutions to their staff. NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) pushed on VFX studios don’t allow artists, production, tech and support staff to work from home. With often overcrowded facilities and artists that sit elbow to elbow pushing long hour days with overtime puts not only me but also my loved ones at risk of catching the virus.

The NDAs that are forced on VFX Studios put artists and stuff at the peril. What was minor inconvenience before is the major life risk situation with Coronavisrus outbreak. VFX houses have or can quickly deploy secure technology solutions to allow work from home on the projects that with the magnitude of the pandemic will probably be delayed.

All I ask is to put aside often legal misguided IP protection measures and harsh NDAs and allow tens of thousands of dedicated artists to work from home and prevent total VFX studios shutdown and layoffs. We want to make the best of the tough times and towards creating the great work that we always delivered in the past.