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Vactors in Feature Films (2010-2013)

Cite this dataset

Kennedy, Jason (2021). Vactors in Feature Films (2010-2013) [Dataset]. Dryad.


This article describes a segment of data produced as part of an ongoing research project that attempts to catalogue the performance of every vactor (virtual actor) in feature films from 2010-2019. Vactors are computer-generated (CG) characters that produce performances alongside profilmic elements. While vactors are increasingly common in films, they are poorly catalogued and often regarded among both academics and film critics as disdainful, monolithic performance strategies. A comprehensive list of vactors can be used to extract trends about the number of vactor performances by year, as well as how certain vactor performance styles become more or less predominant with time. By expanding on prior research that focuses on vactor performances from 2010, this article explores trends in vactor performances across multiple film genres between 2010-2013. By analysing this data, this article suggests that vactors are not monolithic but rather encompass a wide variety of roles featuring various degrees of performance nuance and complexity.


This study is concerned with films whose initial release dates occur between 2010-2013. The research is specifically limited to non-documentary feature films and includes a comprehensive survey of Western cinema (American, Canadian, Australasian, and European), as well as a cursory survey of Bollywood, Chinese, and Korean cinema. I cross-reference films listed on the "Internet Movie Database" ( with the film catalogue on the website “Wild About Movies” ( I use the software MPC-HC to manually advance through a film at discrete 10-second intervals, which allows me to quickly search for vactor performances. When in doubt, I also consult several industry magazines, including “Cinefex” and “3D World”, as well as visual effects news websites, for details about the visual effects production of a given film.

Each vactor is recorded by film, year, genre, and category of vactor performance style(s) (it is possible for a vactor to participate in more than one performance style throughout a film).

Usage notes

Each of the files listed here contain data that pertains to one of ten different performance styles I have previously defined in relationship to virtual actors (vactors) in film. The structure of each file is similar. The columns includes are "[PERFORMANCE STYLE] by Genre [YEAR]", "Movies", "Total Movies", and "Total Roles".

"[PERFORMANCE STYLE] by Genre [YEAR]" includes a list of popular film genres in which vactors have featured. This list is repeated for each year of this study: 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. There is a separate CSV document for each performance style: anthropomorphised, basic animal, complex animal, cosmetic, non-realistic, physical, sentient, stylised, true synthespian, and verisimilar.

"Movies" represents the names of the films that correspond to a particular genre in a given year that also include vactors.

"Total Movies" is the number of the films listed per genre in a given year.

"Total Roles" is the number of individual vactor roles across all the films listed per genre in a given year.

Below the 2013 data, there are additional values for "Total Roles", "Total Appearances", "Total Movies", and "Repeated Roles".

In this context, "Total Roles" refers to the sum of roles in the "Total Roles" column, representing the full count of [PERFORMANCE STYLE] vactor roles in feature films between 2010-2013.

"Appearances" refers to the sum of all appearances of [PERFORMANCE STYLE] vactors in feature films between 2010-2013. This value may be different from "Total Roles" if the same vactor role appears across several films.

"Repeated Roles" refers to the number of instances in which a single [PERFORMANCE STYLE] vactor role has appeared across multiple feature films between 2010-2013.