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Addressing the State of Diversity & Inclusion in Open Source VFX Communities

By June 12, 2020August 27th, 2020No Comments

The current state of injustice and inequality in our society is unacceptable. We, the Academy Software Foundation, stand for inclusion, and we stand in solidarity with our Black members, colleagues, developers, artists, content creators, and the entire Black community. 

Open source has the power to break down racial, gender, and corporate barriers to unite people around a shared goal. Diversity strengthens communities, and we want to be a catalyst for change – within our own organization and across the broader open source ecosystem for VFX and animation. 

Karen Rupert Toliver, Executive VP of Creative at Sony Pictures Animation, eloquently shared her thoughts in a letter on the Women in Animation website. Here is an excerpt:

“Part of our job in entertainment is to help throw focus on that painful reality. We already know that our industry needs to be more diverse and representative. We must keep pushing. It’s urgent. But also advocating for diverse storytelling has a huge part to play. And in this area we are also not doing nearly enough. It’s not just about including Black characters in our stories. We need to influence hearts and minds to think differently. To remind us that we are all connected, that other people’s hurt is everyone’s hurt. We need to encourage people to not look away from uncomfortable things, but instead breathe into that discomfort. We need to use all the resources at our disposal to help move this cause forward. And one powerful resource is fearless storytelling.”

Building on the strength of our community, the ASWF has established a new Diversity & Inclusion Working Group with the goal of breaking down barriers to entry for open source communities. This cross-industry effort will bring together software engineers, developers, CG specialists, HR professionals and more – across studios and vendors – to help level the playing field and close some of the gaps caused by socioeconomic disparities. 

This is a time for us to listen and learn from the experiences of our community members who experience racism and discrimination in their personal and professional lives. We invite anyone who is passionate about diversity and inclusion within VFX and animation to join our working group. Open source software experience is NOT a requirement. Please consider signing up for the Diversity & Inclusion Working Group here

We have also created a #diversity channel on the ASWF Slack to help open a dialogue about the current state of diversity in VFX and animation. It is a safe space for open discussion, and we hope community members will share experiences, and we can all learn from each other. You can join us on the ASWF Slack here.

Diversity and inclusion is an issue of utmost importance to us, and we are committed to driving change across open source communities for VFX and animation. We realize this is just the beginning, and are devoted to bringing action to these words.

On behalf of the entire ASWF Governing Board, Technical Advisory Council (TAC), and all of our projects: 

Rob Bredow, ASWF Governing Board Chair
SVP, Executive Creative Director and Head of Industrial Light & Magic

David Morin, ASWF Executive Director
Head of the Epic Games Los Angeles Lab

Andy Maltz, ASWF Founding Board Member
Managing Director, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Science Technology Council

Rachel Rose, ASWF D&I Working Group Co-Chair
R&D Supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic

Carol Payne, ASWF D&I Working Group Co-Chair
Imaging Specialist at Netflix

Daniel Heckenberg, ASWF Technical Advisory Council (TAC) Chair
R&D Supervisor – Graphics at Animal Logic

Emily Olin, ASWF Director of Marketing Communications
The Linux Foundation

John Mertic, ASWF Director of Program Management
The Linux Foundation