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Marie-charlotte Derne est artiste VFX à Wellington.

"Après avoir incendié un rideau de trop travaillant sur des effets spéciaux artisanaux, je découvre un jour qu'il est plus prudent de les créer en images de synthèse. 

C'est en France puis au Canada que commence ma carrière dans les VFX. Elle se poursuit à Wellington où j'arrive en 2016 pour réaliser un rêve en travaillant sur la Planete des Singes. Cette aventure de six mois dure maintenant depuis six ans."

Marie-Charlotte Derne


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Known for its cinematographic activity, New Zealand houses renowned special effects studios, where the French community is largely represented. Although prepared to cope with the geological and climatic hazards affecting this part of the world, there was nonetheless an invisible “shake” that has tested the structure of our profession.


At the end of 2019, the visual effects industry (VFX), - was being weighed down in a rapidly expanding market.

VFX is now massively used in the majority of feature films, series, and in advertising. Streaming platforms are adding to an already massive demand, forcing post-production studios to juggle with an increasing number of productions.

In hubs such as London and Montreal, it is possible to release some of the pressure caused by this high demand by contracting hundreds of artists just for a few months. It is more complex to relocate that many artists temporarily to remote places such as New Zealand.

Consequences for the industry workers who aren’t multiplying as fast as the projects: repetitive crunch times, shorter delivery deadlines despite non-stretchable labour time and resources. This has a considerable impact on their work-life balance, and both physical and mental health.

The industry appears to be progressively deteriorating because of a model that is struggling to evolve, and is trying to plug the gaps between the human factor, customer satisfaction and competitiveness.


The final fracture occurred from an unexpected source, the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suddenly, everything stopped. Meetings, deadlines, piles of emails, all became secondary; A storm had hit the world. Whether you were an artist, a coordinator or a supervisor, everyone had to face an unexpected situation.

For months, the health crisis broke down habits while we tried to build new ones at the same time. 

We rediscovered how to do our work, remotely. Now we tidy up, file and rearrange our homes into a hybrid living-working area.

Paradoxically, we are listening more to each other and are being more understanding.

Work life balance appears to be softening. Some simple pleasures resurface: cooking, gardening, hosting family dinners, taking up a hobby.

We are becoming aware of the link between wellbeing and productivity.

Meanwhile, the industry is restructuring as well. Remote working is becoming the new norm and soon artists based overseas will get hired to come and help.

Small satellite studios have also been popping up in 2020-2021. Opportunities are expanding and work is being redistributed.

We are finally getting greater geographic independence, meaning we are also able to work from different time zones.

Nowadays, as a French designer in Wellington, I can work from home for local studios or any client based in Australia, Europe, Asia and North America.



The fracture that occurred in 2020 has triggered a reassessment of values and priorities within VFX. It has allowed for a lifestyle reset of our profession to take place. There is more to do, but we now have more viable options to guarantee some form of stability for our family life, our health, our personal development while pursuing an exciting and demanding career.

As we start 2022, our profession is regaining some momentum. Despite the fact that these changes are fresh and still being processed, we are being given a chance to rebuild the industry the way we envision it, with foundations that reflect the world of today.

Only time will tell if this new path will work in the long term.

Marie-Charlotte Derne

Night of Ideas New Zealand is presented by the Embassy of France in New Zealand in partnership with Victoria University of Wellington, as part of La Nuit des idées, a worldwide initiative of the Institut français, Paris.

Participation of New Caledonian contributors is facilitated by the Delegation of New Caledonia to New Zealand.

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