By Zona Marie Tan

The Australian visual and digital effects sector may have formal representation in a Visual Effects Society (VES) Chapter by the end of this year.

The current 48 Australian members of VES, soon to be 50 in October, will be submitting a petition to establish an Australian chapter to the Los Angeles-based VES office at the end of this month.

Fuel VFX’s new business manager and VES member Trish Graham is one of the drivers of the formation of this chapter because she strongly believes the Australian visual effects industry (VFX) needs representation.

“It’s a relatively new industry sector that has grown a lot over the last couple of years,” says Graham. “Depending on what’s in production, there can be hundreds of VFX and digital partners in the country. Which is a significant number, and they’re not formally represented.”

The chapter’s formation will mean support and international access to VES festivals, educational events, conference and screenings for visual effects practitioners including artists, technologists, model makers, educators, studio leaders, supervisors, PR/marketing specialists and producers in all areas of entertainment from film, television and commercials to music videos and games.

Internationally, VES comprises 1,600 members in 17 countries, with currently only three chapters formed in London, Vancouver and San Francisco. With Australia possibly slated to be the fourth, it will prove that the country is on par with those other centres of creative excellence. Graham also adds that this may give Australians working overseas more confidence in getting support should they decide to return to Australia to work.

“It’s a great sign of the maturity of our industry that we can come together on something of mutual value like this,” says Rising Sun Pictures’ Tony Clark, who has been involved in the VES awards process in the U.S. side for a long time.

“The VES provides an excellent forum for the free exchange of ideas with peers in the industry and I’m sure will continue to provide such a helpful discussion group for those in the Digital Media industry when considering issues of overall importance such as education, standards and sustainable practices.”

Nonetheless, a VES chapter also means an opportunity to foster relationships with other guilds and associations.

“The Australian VES members will be inviting other guild members to our events because it’s important to inform the rest of the film community about what we’re doing and what contribution we can make to storytelling, filmmaking,” explains Graham.

Although still considered an expensive, technical area of filmmaking, Graham says they are discovering that filmmakers are beginning to involve VFX and digital production companies in the pre-production stages.

“That’s saving filmmakers a lot of money and time with good planning,” concedes Graham. “And that’s what we want to communicate to the other guilds like the ADG and ACS."

"We’ve all got something to learn from each other, and this will be a first port of call for other members of other guilds to be better informed about VFX and digital production.”

[Read Smoke & Mirrors Sept-Nov 2008 issue for more]

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