Thursday, 15 August 2013

What is Previz and why should we teach it?

What is Previz? Wikipedia defines it thus:

"Previsualization (also known as pre-rendering, preview or wireframe windows) is a function to visualise complex scenes in a movie before filming. It is also a concept in still photography. Previsualization is applied to techniques such as storyboarding, either in the form of charcoal drawn sketches or in digital technology in the planning and conceptualization of movie scenery make up."

Hmmm....OK, that sounds fine, but a bit dry. I think my definition would be this: "Previz is a film-making technique whereby very rough digital sets and models are created which are then assembled into a sequence, before the actual movie gets made, in order to plan effectively and save time and money".

In other words, it's a way of testing everything out cheaply and quickly using digital media before going to all the expense and bother of actually filming it. The important thing from our perspective is that it is cheap, highly effective, and a big growth area in film-making. It's also huge fun, and there are jobs out there for those who know how to do it.

But wait, I hear you say - isn't this what storyboards are for? To plan out shots in advance? The answer, of course, is yes. Previz is really just digital storyboarding. The whole point of it is to plan out a sequence in advance to save time and money and to make things work better. Previz is really just a form of digital storyboarding. Just like storyboards, none of the assets used in previz will end up on screen. But the ideas that went into them will.

Almost all directors pre-viz their work now, especially fast action action sequences which need careful planning to make them work seamlessly, to make sure all the cuts work and the sequence has a rhythm and builds to a satisfying climax. But that is part of the fun of it; working with the director, helping to craft a film at the start of the production - the creative, interesting part.

The skills you need to be a good previz artist inlude:
  • modeling 
  • texturing
  • lighting
  • animation
  • editing
  • storytelling 
  • problem-solving
So, in short, you need a broad variety of skills, general digital skills in fact. Good previz artists are all-rounders, capable of turning their hand to pretty much any part of the pipeline.

But don't take it from me, watch this video in which Fast and Furious director Justin Lin explains everything...

You can also read the Wikipedia page on Previz here:


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