“Make it in Post:” Digital Visual Effects and the Temporality of Creative Value in Post-Production

The Palgrave Handbook of Screen Production, edited by Susan Kerrigan, Craig Batty, Marsha Berry, Kath Dooley, and Bettina Frankham. Palgrave Macmillan.

The Palgrave Handbook of Screen Production, 2019

Book Description

This handbook is an essential creative, critical and practical guide for students and educators of screen production internationally. It covers all aspects of screen production—from conceptualizing ideas and developing them, to realizing and then distributing them—across all forms and formats, including fiction and non-fiction for cinema, television, gallery spaces and the web. With chapters by practitioners, scholars and educators from around the world, the book provides a comprehensive collection of approaches for those studying and teaching the development and production of screen content. With college and university students in mind, the volume purposely combines theory and practice to offer a critically informed and intellectually rich guide to screen production, shaped by the needs of those working in education environments where ‘doing’ and ‘thinking’ must co-exist. The Palgrave Handbook of Screen Production fills an important gap in creative-critical knowledge of screen production, while also providing practical tools and approaches for future practitioners.

Part III Realising Screen Work: Practice, Process, Pragmatism

Chapter: “Make it in Post:” Digital Visual Effects and the Temporality of Creative Value in Post-Production


On account of its temporal categorisation, post-production is constituted by a sense of “after-ness” that implies a deferment, marginalisation, and decentralisation of creative value in the screen production process. As Allain Daigle identifies, “The categorical language of ‘post’ remains an operating lineage of creative control that operationalizes post-production productivity as a protocol of efficiency rather than creative design” (2015 , 173). This is a production ideology of efficiency over creativity reflected in the proverbial production protocol “fi x it in post.” This attitude is most associated with the development of digital editing technologies that facilitate the ostensibly more effi cient and economical correction of mishaps made during principal production; this infers post-production is a stage of deferred labour that is more technical than creative in value. In this regard, “fix it in post” expresses creative value in temporal terms, in which “after-ness” in the screen production process connotes technical activity of less creative value. The concept of creative value applied in this chapter is concerned with industrial ideologies and terminological protocols that tacitly maintain distinctions between creative and technical skillsets and labour output across the production stages—that is, principal and postproduction respectively. I focus on the production protocol concerning effects (FX)-focused terminology, in which special effects (SFX) refers to illusions filmed on camera during principal production and visual effects (VFX) designates images made on computer during post-production (Fink and Morie 2010 , 1–2). As this chapter will explore, this terminological distinction between SFX and VFX is more than convention, but also relates to how creativity is practised and valued across the stages of production.

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