(Post)Production: Classifications and Infrastructures of Digital Visual Effects (2015)

This article historicizes the categorization of post-production work, specifically that of visual effects, as technical processes and “post” production in large-scale cinema production. It analyzes 1980s deregulations and the successive vertical integration strategies performed by studios to increase their control over distribution. The economic model of the contemporary blockbuster built upon concentrated studio control to redistribute the production of spectacle away from high-cost “creative” labor and into an expansive infrastructure of visual effects production that was more easily controllable and exploitable for central profit. An examination of visual effects classifications in the recent criticism on blockbusters by Kristen Whissel and Sean Cubitt will suggest that while visual effects function as primary components of textual design, we need to reconfigure how we describe this central component of filmmaking to shift the interests of its underlying infrastructure away from systemic profit and back to the human worker.

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