How version control software saved one artist from near disaster
Ryan L’Italien
Issue: January/February 2023

How version control software saved one artist from near disaster

Malaysian-based visual effects (VFX) artist and virtual production researcher Zubaida Nila was one of 21 finalists picked from 178 applicants for the six-week intensive Epic Games’ 2022 Women Creators Program. The program provided hands-on experience with Unreal Engine workflows, offering lighting, post processing and special effects skills training. 

Toward the end of the program, Nila’s files became corrupted, resulting in what seemed to be a lost project. However, Nila didn’t lose hope, thanks to the version control software she leveraged throughout the program. In addition to the hard skills Nila gained over the six weeks, she learned firsthand the value version control offers filmmakers. 

Virtual production

Although virtual production has been around for years, the global pandemic forced production teams to work remotely, increasing the popularity of digital creation tools. The virtual production market revenue worldwide increased by $200 million between 2019 and 2021, and has a projected compound annual growth rate of 14.1 percent from 2022 to 2029. Due to the large files virtual production teams manage, version control is necessary since it saves each file iteration, allowing dispersed teams to collaborate seamlessly and on the most updated version. 

Virtual production also saves studios – and individuals like Nila – considerable time when designing, iterating and producing content. With only six weeks to complete a short film, participants had little spare time.

Version control software

Given the program’s tight deadline, each creator needed to easily access, track and review thousands of assets. Artists worked alone on their projects and leveraged Helix Core to secure their work, allowing them  to focus more on the creative aspects of the project instead of back-end, logistical tasks. 

As Nila developed her short film, she had countless art assets that needed to be stored, revised and reused. Helix Core provided Nila with one location for her art assets, simplifying file management and automatically saving iterations without taking up local space on her computer from content copies. Additionally, Nila could render her shots in Epic Games’ virtual machine that she used throughout the program while still having access to them with version control. 

Even though the most recent version of her files became corrupted, the software saved Nila’s film from being lost forever. The entire project was backed up, with rich information and history for previous changes she could revert to in her film. Without version control, Nila would have given up on her project entirely. 

Into the Devigation

Nila’s short film, Into the Devigation is an abstract story based on the behind-the-scenes life of an artist at the intersection of their chaotic desk and serene imagination. It is a meta-story about the behind-the-scenes struggles of post production artists and their aspirations to someday transition to a less surreal, technological environment. It shows a real glimpse into the experience some VFX artists and producers may have when working in virtual production. 

Virtual production and version control software allow producers and directors the creative freedom to do almost anything imaginable, without the need for green screens, big movie sets or large hard drives for storage. It allowed Nila and the women in the Epic Games’ Women’s Creators Program to work on their films remotely, from anywhere and at any time, creating and saving multiple file iterations of each film clip. Film studios, big and small, can save time, money and resources by virtually collaborating on projects, and this very well could be where the future of filmmaking is heading.  

Ryan L’Italien is the director of solutions at Perforce ( The company is based in Minneapolis and offers Helix Core, a version-control system for teams who need to accelerate innovation at scale. Users can store and track changes to all of their digital assets, from source code to binary to IPs.