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Undeserving Credit

Why Stealing Sucks By John Virata
Last week I found out that I got scammed. The ideas, the words, the paragraphs and the phrases that I get paid as a journalist to submit into Cyberspace, were purloined by an unscrupulous person masquerading as a journalist. This thief stole my writing (A review of Adobe's Photoshop Elements that appeared on DigitalProducer.com in late June/early July) and put his/her name on it, submitted it as his/her own work to Digital Photographer Magazine, which proceeded to print it in the November 2001 issue on page 24.

It appears that this particular thief, didn't even have the software in his/her possession when my stolen review was submitted to the hapless editors at Digital Photographer Magazine. Stealing is wrong. Plagiarism is wrong. Taking credit when no credit is due is wrong.


Which brings me to another related peeve; the lack of attribution for work done with regard to special effects in the film industry. In my previous profession as an editor of a print magazine (NT Studio, aka Digital Studio aka DCC Magazine) that covered the art of special effects creation, we received quite a few demo reels from studios that wished to showcase the best pixel pushing that they could muster. We enjoyed viewing these reels and saw a lot of great stuff created back then, (on Windows NT based workstations, as if) but a peculiar notion came to us as we viewed reel after reel after reel; Some of the exact same effects shots appeared on reels from different effects facilities. At first I thought, well maybe Facility X did some modeling, and Facility Y did some animation while Facility Z provided some texture mapping. Sometimes that is indeed the case. Other times it is just blatant undue credit.

What often puzzled me is why the credit usually went to just one effects facility, and not the other smaller, but equally important effects facilities that contributed to the specific effects job. I just recently found out that some of the smaller effects facilities will sign off any attribution to the work they do in a film to get the work, but will retain the right to showcase the work on their ever-important demo reel.

No credit in the film but credit on the demo reel and the word-of-mouth circuit? What is up with that?

Why would Facility X take all the credit if silent partner Facility Y did the money shots? Granted, some facilities give credit to their collaborators. But is the industry so cutthroat that a facility of questionable capability would go as far as to claim the work of others as their own to continue to get the big gigs? Or is there an incredible amount of undue influence when the contracts are signed? This taking of credit for work done on the wings of others needs to be reassessed and addressed. If Facility M or I or C does effects work for a film, then that facility should get credit for the work that was performed, regardless of which facility got the contract. We are talking about a line of credit at the end of a film. While the farming out of work process is good for the effects industry, and especially to the smaller facilities that do a lot of the work in Hollywood, due process should be meted out when handing out the credits.


John Virata is a senior producer at Digital Media Net

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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at jvirata@digitalmedianet.com
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