Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What exactly do visual researchers and archive producers do and what is the difference?
A: Our members wear several hats and you can hire them for one aspect of your project, or for all of them. They do visual research—looking for footage and stills in a very wide range of sources using an extensive network of contacts. They can also manage the archive/asset as it comes in, logging it and tracking it in the post-production phase so regular costings and copyright assessments can be done. They can also handle financial negotiations with suppliers, using their preferred rates and their own negotiating skills to get the best possible rate for the material and use your money in the most efficient way. Finally they can handle all of the license agreement negotiations to ensure that you have all the protections you need in place and provide a complete package of deliverables at the end. The difference between a “visual researcher” and an “archive producer” is that the visual researcher does the actual research and an archive producer does both the research and the archive management as described above. An archive producer would also have experience managing a team of researchers as might be needed on an archive heavy series.

Q: How much do researchers cost?
A: There’s no fixed rate. Each researcher sets their own rate based on their level of experience so this is something to discuss with them directly.

Q: Do I have to provide office space and other resources for a researcher?
A: No, most researchers have their own offices and can work independently. Some researchers are willing to work from a client’s office and others are not so this is an arrangement to be worked out directly with the researcher.

Q: Do VRSC members only work on Canadian projects?
A: No, our researchers work on projects for clients around the world.

Q: How do I find a researcher from your organization who has the right experience and background for my particular project?
A: Here on our website you’ll see the “Find a Researcher” tab. Click on that and you’ll see a number of criteria you can tick to narrow down the field to researchers who are just right for your project. We also operate a members-only Job Board that is sent out to the membership once a week. You are welcome to send us wording ( for a free ad to be placed there where you can describe your project and your specific needs. Researchers would then contact you directly if they are appropriate and available. The VRSC provides this as a service to our members but we are not a work agency so you would deal directly with members of rates, work terms, etc.

Q: I expect my project will take many months but I only need a researcher for a short time here and there over the course of production. How does that work?
A: Our researchers work on a freelance basis and most are able to work on projects here and there over the course of a long period, integrating your needs and requests with those of other clients.

Q: Is it true that I’ll save money on license fees by hiring a professional visual researcher?
A: Yes, this is usually the case because the VRSC has negotiated preferred rates exclusively for our members with a multitude of sources around the world and they can apply these rates to your projects. Researchers are also experienced negotiators with long standing contacts in the archive world and they know how to maximize the value of your archive budget in a number of other ways.

Q: Do visual researchers also do music clearances and editorial research?
A: Some do and some don’t so this is something to discuss directly with them.

Q: If I hire a visual researcher do I still need a lawyer to evaluate copyright issues?
A: Yes. While our researchers participate in a lot of educational programs offered to VRSC members to keep everyone up to speed on changes in copyright law so they can identify issues early on and work with you to resolve them, ultimately they are not lawyers and cannot take on that final responsibility.

Q: Can anyone join the VRSC or do you have to be an experienced researcher?
A: Only professional researchers can join the VRSC although the range of experience varies from junior researchers in the early years of their careers to those who have been working for decades. In order to preserve the integrity of our organization and its goals we do request a CV from new applicants to ensure that they are indeed qualified to become members.

Q: As a researcher, how long is the membership and what do I get for it?
A: Memberships are valid for one calendar year, from January 1st to December 31st, regardless of when during the year you join. For that fee you have access to the VRSC’s preferred rates with a wide range of archive suppliers. It also makes you eligible to participate in a number of educational programs and archives tours that we offer across the country and access to our closed Facebook page which is updated daily to share industry news and updates. The VRSC provides access to a database of archive sources, an informal forum for researchers to ask one another questions and share ideas which everyone benefits from. VRSC/ARAC also offers a comprehensive medical, dental, life and travel insurance policy to members.

Q: Does the VRSC have people who can put on workshops or participate in panels?
A: Yes, we have members in various locations who have experience in putting on presentations, conducting workshops and speaking on panels. Please use the “Contact” button to request more information.