The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has granted Academy branch status to its visual-effects members, making them the first new Academy branch in 42 years.

Academy president Arthur Hiller said in a statement that “visual-effects artists are advancing the art of moviemaking in virtually every type of film. By granting branch status to our visual-effects members the Academy is acknowledging another important contributor to state-of-the-art filmmaking as it really exists today.”

Branch status will permit the 130 visual-effects specialists, who currently are members at large, to elect three of their colleagues as governors of the Academy, thus increasing the board to 39 after elections are held in July.

The last branch added to the Academy came in 1953, when the board of governors created the administrators branch, which was absorbed into the executive branch in 1970.

Jonathan Erland – who has sat as a nonvoting member of the board since August 1993 representing the Acad’s visual-effects members – said, “Visual effects are not limited to action or science-fiction movies. Effects can heighten emotions of a dramatic film. The range of movies that use effects in a subtle but important way just continues to grow.”

The announcement came Feb. 9 as members assembled in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater to view reels from seven contenders for the f/x Oscar and select three nominees.