PREVISUALIZATION Part ONE: What is Previs?
COW Library : Cinematography : Gare Cline : PREVISUALIZATION Part ONE: What is Previs?
WHAT IS PREVISUALIZATION?
The computer is possibly the single most significant technological influence in our lives today. There is not a single aspect of our existence that is not enhanced or hampered by the influence of computers – everything from finance and writing to making appointments and storing data.
However, computers have blossomed, beyond compare, with the creation of images. The burgeoning imaging technology has allowed doctors to peer inside the human body, scientists to see the extreme limits of the galaxy and data analyst to visualize complex notions and transform them into simple and easy to understand ideas. Yet, computer images have gone beyond being able to see what is invisible or what has happened, to now being able to show us what may happen. Hence, previsualization – a new form of computer imaging that allows us to visually understand the future.
ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT THE MEANING
Previs. You may or may not have heard of it. If you have, you may have heard conflicting or more often muddled definitions. Many assumptions have developed around this often-misunderstood word. Unfortunately, much of this syntactical confusion is not helped by special interest groups surreptitiously commandeering the term and construing its meaning to something quite foreign from its original definition.
The three most common assumptions associated with previsualization are: it is used exclusively in the motion picture industry; it is used exclusively for designing visual effects (VFX); it is primarily three-dimensional animation. Of course, all of these definitions are incorrect.
So, if these presumptions about previsualization are not true, then what is?
THE REAL MEANING
The Oxford English Dictionary may be the best vocabulary arbitrator for a definition of a word in dispute. The OED, published by the Oxford University Press, is the considered by the academic community to be the premier dictionary of the English language. With descriptions for approximately 600,000 words, it is considered the largest official dictionary in the world. Additionally, the University Press staff spends countless hours documenting and cataloging the use of every printed English word. Here is what they have to say about previsualization:
Pre-visualization n. 1956
Though much confabulation has been made over the correct spelling of the abbreviated form, previs with an s ending is the most commonly used short form.
TYPES OF INDUSTRIES WHICH USE PREVISUALIZATION
The OED definition suggests there are several of types of previsualization: all of which are planning tools for various kinds of industries. Now, there are six different fields, in which some sort of previsualization is used to visualize how a procedure or product will look. The motion picture industry is only one of these fields. They are as follows:
Photography is one of the older disciplines to use previs. Ansell Adams was known to previsualize many of his more renowned photographs as far back as the 1930s.
For the purposes of this essay, we will focus on the various forms or types of previsualization used in the motion picture industry.
TYPES OF MOTION PICTURE PREVISUALIZATION
Within the sphere of cinema, previs takes on four different forms. These break into either 2D illustrations or the newer classification of 3D renderings. 3D animation is only one form of previs.
Traditional hand-drawn storyboards date back to the beginning of movies. French magician and director, George Méliès, was known to have cartoon sketched his stories before putting them in front of the camera.
In the next chapter, we are going to focus on the rising cost and risks of moviemaking and why a director or a producer may want to consider previsualizing his or her next picture; particularly with 3D storyboards.