View Full Version : The anatomy of previsualization.

02 February 2006, 12:04 AM
The attached word file includes a Q&A session I did with Digit Magzine on the subject of previs. For those of you interested in making movies and doing previs, you should check this out. I didn't have time to turn it into a .pdf. If you need that, let me know.

02 February 2006, 07:25 AM
Great stuff, thanks for sharing.


02 February 2006, 12:26 PM
Thanks Steffen....

Glad you liked it. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

02 February 2006, 02:45 PM
Very interesting, Brian. Thanks a lot.

02 February 2006, 04:45 PM

Yes, this made for a great and useful reading, many thanks for sharing it.

Regarding previz as a business, iīve been trying to build an idea on how could i jump into this here in Spain, where such a niche in the filmmaking process itīs not that common (if it actually exists at all); i have even studied filmmaking with the sole purpose of understanding how to match my cgi skills with the real thing, exactly as you have so clearly exposed in the interview.
Iīm still thinking on this but there are some issues regarding mainly pipeline issues, approaches on staffing the teams, like: do you have permanent mini-team positions, or do you rely on other kind of organization depending on the kind of shots you need to previz? Do you rely on external artists or try to cook everything in-house?

My experience working in teams has been so far related to modelling and layout of static scenes for big projects with a group of freelancers that gathered for the contracts and disbanded after, and even got the chance to supervise them for a short period, and it was then that the "previz biz" became an interesting idea.
But again i have the pipeline concerns, as previously all we did was final pure 3d and didnīt need to provide data to third parties. FBX might be a solution.
But still iīm somewhat puzzled as to how should i approach this. Of course iīm a lot less puzzled than before, due to your advices in the forum and in this great document.

So, many thanks

02 February 2006, 07:57 PM

Great questions. I'll try to answer them the best I can.

Juan: do you have permanent mini-team positions?

At this time, no. We have no full time staff other than the CEO, COO, and a VFX sup. All other artists are hired on as contract labor/work for hire. This keeps overhead extremely low and artists are only brought on board when needed. There are cycles in the film industry where keeping full timers onboard would be very expensive. Perhaps when we're a larger company, we'll have a core team that is staff. Esentially we see the previs team as an elite team that is assembled like a "strike force". We go in, house ourselves at the studio's location of choice, and are directly available to the director. We go where he needs us. Freelancers are hired and they must bring their own gear to work on the project. We're not in business to provide freelancers with the latest and greatest equipment. Part of our hiring requirements are that they are insured, talented, and have their own gear. Once the project is complete, they are released. Those that we establish a firm working relationship with are always rewarded as "the first to call" when we land a new gig.

As for the pipeline. A lot depends on your previs philosophy model. If all you're doing is providing conceptual movies for story telling purposes, pipeline is fairly irrelevant. However, if you're wanting to tie into an existing vfx house that uses a different software package than yours, you're going to want to consider a couple of things.

1. Should we migrate to their software package for the greatest compatibility? (The best choice in my experience.)

2. Does the vfx company just want hard positional/rotational data of animated objects, lights and cameras? If so, FBX export can work. Once EITG releases 6.5r3, it should have FBX exporting capabilities. As long as your comfortable with that workflow, and you construct everything to be compatible, (run lots of tests) EIAS could theoretically work as your previs platform. (Which is what I'm hoping for). Until exporting is made available, I can not recommend EIAS as a pipeline friendly previs platform. Its fine for conceptual work only.

Warning: As great as FBX is, there are caveats. Data exchange between software packages is less than perfect and if you have any particle systems, specialized textures, dynamic simulations, etc.. those will not transfer. You may wind up spending more time finding FBX workarounds than learning and using the vfx house's native application of choice.

02 February 2006, 10:59 AM
Great information again Brian. Thanks for your time and for sharing your expertise.

I see and understand that trying to accomodate to the customerīs pipeline would be the best choice for the technical previz approaches, but then we might loose somehow the capabilities to interact and get faster turnarounds due to our lesser expertise in the customerīs software, we might loose responsiveness if trying to get the nuts and bolts of a different app while at the same time trying to be operational. So i guess that trying to become as well proficient in one of the commonest tools around (ie Maya or XSI) would be a sure bet and an aid to the process. Anyway, resourcing to external artists would greatly help to accommodate to the pipeline if you have artists with knowledge in those apps that wouldnīt have the need to learn to use them, is this a correct idea, something you actually do?

My preferences go mainly to the conceptual previz approaches where my desired setup of EIAS, Lightwave and Motionbuilder would suffice (and excel) for my intentions. Heavily VFX dependent blockbusters are not really common around here, so the technical previsualizations might not be requested too often.

Thanks again, :bowdown:


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