There is no such thing as “virtual” work – unions unite to enhance standards on performance capture


Computer generated imagery (CGI) is transforming the way that content is produced nowadays. Fueled by formidable computing power and sophisticated artificial intelligence, it is making even the most extravagant creature or landscape the human mind can think of look as real as your favorite pet or our neighbor’s backyard.

From the early rotoscoping techniques used in the late ‘30s when making Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to the astonishing motion capture used to make Tolkien’s fantasy world spring to life, there are virtually no limits to what CGI can be used for today, with applications reaching way beyond the realm of animated or sci-fi feature films. Interestingly, and despite their apparent absence, performers continue to play a key role in this success story. Their voices, bodies, movements and likeness are sampled, captured and churned by complex algorithms rendering a virtual, but deceptively real, experience.

For the trade unions representing them, CGI is anything but virtual: it is a complex but significant new area of work where to extend their jurisdiction, with a view to regulating work environments, protecting the safety, image and reputation of their members, and promoting adequate terms of pay. Many of them are breaking new ground and are successfully negotiating contract language setting new and higher standards in this field.

Conscious of the need to capture the essence of this pioneering work to empower other affiliates to make strides in their own national environment, FIA has set up a working group in 2017 to facilitate the sharing of experience. Members of the group mostly comprise industry-savvy union officers from North America, the UK and Europe, where these technologies are most advanced, and labour strongly organized.

Through regular virtual meetings, the group has worked to untangle and identify distinct types of performer contribution to digital imagery, working on common definitions and investigating the legal framework to identify the most progressive, and protective, norms in this field. The group has also undertaken to examine the extent to which collective bargaining agreements cover the full breadth of performance capture and suggest common definitions to properly acknowledge the professional work of performers.

A preliminary report from the working group is available in English, French and Spanish hereunder. It is visible only for logged-in FIA members.

Report Performance Capture_EN

Rapport Capture de jeu d’acteur_FR

Informe sobre Capture Performance_ES

Scroll to Top
This site is registered on as a development site.