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Visual Effects Branch Key Creative Guidelines

Prepared by the Visual Effects Branch Rules Subcommittee

The Visual Effects Branch Executive Committee will consider extending membership to individuals who have shown outstanding merit and made notable contributions to our industry in accordance with Academy Bylaws Article III, Section 1. The following are general guidelines of responsibilities and contributions to consider when evaluating an individual’s role as a “Key Creative.” In addition to the other requirements, satisfying some or all of the below would qualify an individual to be considered for membership in the Visual Effects Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Some individuals may demonstrate that they creatively lead a show from start to finish, while others may have made significant and consistent contributions within one phase of production over multiple films.

In its most traditional definition, a “Key Creative” is an individual with the fundamental skills and responsibility of actively and creatively supervising the technical and aesthetic execution and look of the visual effects for the picture, and serving as a direct and primary visual effects collaborator to the director, on an equal creative level to the function of the Production Designer and the Director of Photography in their respective departments. However, it is understood for membership consideration purposes that the ever-growing breadth and scope of visual effects as a craft necessitates not only multiple supervisors but also diverse roles and areas of specialization in technology, technique and innovation, each with its own key creative emphases that are critical to the success of the film. The following descriptions can help clarify some of the types of proactive leadership that can help better qualify candidates for membership. Please note that this list, while providing clarity and guidance, is neither exhaustive nor solely definitive.

In general, Key Creative means: An individual whose contributions and/or role as a lead creative on a specific project served as the primary basis for the execution of the defining/representative aspect of the visual effects for that project in relation to its essential importance to the engagement and effectiveness of the storytelling.


1. An individual creatively involved /responsible in developing and defining Look of Picture/Character Design as it relates to the visual effects imagery and processes, in concert with the director, art department, and visual effects vendors.

2. An individual responsible for having a significant input and/or recommendation authority on a creative and technical basis in the selection of other primary visual effects creatives and facilities.

3. An individual responsible for working with both the production team and the visual effects teams to define creative objectives.

4. An individual working with the director to establish and oversee previsualization and tech-vis, defining appropriate and optimal shooting techniques and set-ups for visual effects.

5. An individual whom the director and studio regard as primarily responsible for overseeing the execution of visual effects.

6. An individual responsible for creatively and technically planning any in-camera visual effects, including but not limited to practical effects, mechanical and stunt rigs, virtual production, graphics design, execution, and integration.

7. An individual involved in the assessment and selection of technology companies and their key personnel, as it pertains to addressing the specific creative needs of the production and picture; this might include mo-cap, virtual production, and other technology vendors.

8. An individual who serves as a creative voice and problem-solver with other heads-ofdepartments such as art department, camera, production design, etc. to solve creative problems for the project.

9. An individual responsible during testing phases for evaluating new tech and proving methodologies to solve unique technical challenges for the project.

10. An individual who creatively and technically defines shot methodologies for visual effects, exploring best techniques within budget and schedule parameters.

Production (On- and Off-Set):

1. An individual who creatively works with the director and HODs to execute the visual effects plan. (Continuation from Pre-Production).

2. An individual who has the ability and authority to offer alternative solutions for plate capture and shot execution as the shooting schedule progresses and the body of work changes/evolves.

3. An individual who serves as a creative contact for the camera, production design, editorial, etc., as collaborator and problem solver in relation to visual effects.
(Continuation from Pre-Production)

4. An individual who is creatively and technically involved with the execution of any incamera visual effects, including but not limited to all practical effects, mechanical and stunt rigs, virtual production, graphics execution, and implementation.

5. An individual who is responsible for creatively directing visual effects teams, and working to maintain a consistent look across multiple shots and vendors. (Continues through Post)

6. An individual working creatively with editorial to collaborate on storytelling needs and problem-solving visual effects work as the project evolves and changes. (Continues through Post)


1. An individual who is responsible for the aesthetic execution of the visual effects (e.g., characters, creatures, environments, props, FX, animation, lighting, compositing, and, as relevant, final grading).

2. An individual creatively directing post-vis, in collaboration with the filmmaker’s vision.

3. An individual who is responsible for solving production and technology problems as they arise with key artists, technologists and vendors; and who will, if necessary, creatively redirect assets and methodologies to address the aesthetic needs of the picture.

4. An individual who is a consistent and significant creative contributor responsible for managing all visual effects shots to final execution.

Other Defined Roles:

Listed titles and credits are the first and primary step in qualifying applicants for membership consideration into our branch; however, members are ultimately selected based on their individual and consistent key creative contributions to the production of visual effects in motion pictures. With that in mind, it is important that we consider all who meet these criteria.

Visual Effects Producers: The individual must be able to demonstrate that their role, has satisfied a significant portion of the above levels of creative participation, and has demonstrated a consistent creative partnership with either the Visual Effects Supervisor and/or the Director in the absence of a Visual Effects Supervisor.

Creative Technologists: Individuals responsible for ground-breaking technological developments and/or significant advancements in technique, especially ones that are applicable and/or adaptable to other films and are likely to become more broadly adopted within the industry to enhance the capabilities of all practitioners of the visual effects artform.

The ultimate goal of the membership process is to identify and bring together individuals who demonstrate the leadership, creativity, innovation and diverse skill-sets of our craft, and who represent the high level of quality and dedication to further the advancement of our artform while serving the educational and aspirational goals of both the Academy and our global visual effects filmmaking community.