PREVISUALIZATION Part FOUR: When to Use Previs
: Gare Cline
: PREVISUALIZATION Part FOUR: When to Use Previs
WHEN TO USE PREVIS
Early in the last century, the movie industry developed a workflow, or a process of manufactoring and marketing narrative films. Over the course of the past century this method has evolved with the introduction of new technology, such as sound and color. Though much of the new innovations in machinary have enriched the movie veiwing experience, it has not altered the fundimental means of making movies. Nonetheless, pre-visualization is one of the few improvements that has made the filmmaking more cost efficient.
MOTION PICTURE PRODUCTION PHASES
The making and distribution of movies comprises of six phases and a number of subphases, which are far too detailed to cover in this brief article. The six phases are as follows:
HOW DOES PREVIS FIT INTO THE FILMMAKING PROCESS?
This phase involves the conceputalization and writing of the story in the form of a screenplay.
Forecasting the cost to make the movie and raising the funds neccessary to complete the project are done in this phase.
Here the artistic and logistical preparations for shooting the film takes place.
This stage entails the actual shooting of the movie.
- Post Production
Since it is most likely that the project is not shot in the order it will be displayed, it becomes neccessary to assemble the footage in a manner that tells the movie's story. Of course, this is not to say that editing plays a minor role in the making of a movie. Editing allows the director to creatively manipulate time and space.
The final stage in the manufacture of a movie is making it available for viewing. In today's ever evolving market, a plathera of options have emerged from the traditional large screen movie theater to the small screen portable telephone.
In this new age of filmmaking, pre-visualization can play an important role in every stage but delivery. However, the advantages of previs can best be realized in the first three phases where the concept and logistics of the project are carried out. Much of the time, unfortunately, projects are not storyboarded or boarded until late into the pre-production phase. Often, this is too late to be effective. The longer a director is allowed to plan and conceptualize his or her project, the better the results.
Below is a brief examination of how previs fits into each stage of film production:
The script stage may be the best time to previs with regards to planning how the film should look and could be shot. By roughly visualizing the sets, the costumes and the coverage, the director can readily see how his or her story is unfolding, or perhaps, not unfolding. Many story structural and character development issues can be recognized at this juncture of planning and therefore creative solutions can be derived and explored. 3D storyboarding is especially effective at this stage.
Development is the optimal phase for creating a pitch deck or finalizing the storyboards. The pitch deck, a term coined by Good Magazine, is a brief three minute slide show designed to help visualize a verbal pitch. Boarding the picture at this stage allows the director the precious time and freedom to work out how to creatively communicate the intent of his or her project. In other words, the director can discover how to best show the film's story.
Unfortuately, this not the best time to begin using previs. Nevertheless, this is when it is most often initiated. Due to budgetary constraints, many producers can only afford to hire on a previs artist at this stage. This delay in hiring is unfortunate as it hampers the potential quality of the project. The longer the director is allowed to plan and conceptualize his or her project, the better the results will be. Boards done in development are passed onto a pre-visualization house to be rendered as VFX animation. This is where the visual effects shots are conceived and tested.
Previs at this stage is rarely used except for a process known as motion matching whereby the movement of computor generated images are matced with the movement of a photographed shot or scene.
- Post Production
If previs is used at this phase, it is usually done to aid the editor and the visual effects department. Often shots that would contain VFX are slugged with previsualized shots in order to help the effects personnel determine the nature of the effects needed.
In the final chapter, we will look at who should use previs and how to shop for a previs artist. We begin by looking at what sort of previs is needed and the volume of work that needs to be done, and then proceed through how much time to allot for previsualization and finally end with determining the costs involved with previsualization.
To Be Continued...
Mr. Cline specializes in optically accurate, pre-visualization storyboards for business plans and motion picture productions. His clients include JuiceBox Skateboards, Arenas, Sony Pictures and The China Film Studio.
Recently, he has been designing a course in stereography for the PRC film community. His work in film spans nearly 20 years, including seven years as a lighting designer where he worked on over ninety videos, commercials and features, including Amityville Horror and King of the Hill. More recently, he had been a foreign correspondent for the Belgium magazine, Cine-Tele-Revue, covering industry news and gossip. He has also worked for the stage, including Assistant Director for the Armory for the Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Lighting Assistant on the U.S. premiere of Sam Shepard's Fool For Love at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco. Mr. Cline holds teaching credentials in art, English and history. He briefly taught English and cinematic studies to autistic children.
Mr. Cline received a BA in English from San Francisco State University and a MA in cinematography from the American Film Institute.
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