In Broadcast - November 2013 - 74


I N T E R N A T I O N A L

WWW.INBROADCAST.COM | ISSUE 25 - NOVEMBER 2013

N E W S

InMEDIA

The Rise Of Previsualisation
Previsualisation is a major evolutionary step in the world of modern film making...

By Kevin Hilton
Contributing Editor

A

74

ll technologies develop and
evolve over time but few get
to the point where they begin to
move out of their original area into
other parts of the film or programme
making process. Previsualisation
has been doing this in recent years,
growing from being simply a way
to block out sequences into being
able to present scenes in animated,
3D form, to the point where they
can be used in the main production
and post-production chains.
In basic terms previsualisation
is a technique for presenting how
a scene will look before proper
shooting begins. At one time this was
done with illustrations in the form of
storyboards but new technologies
and techniques have extended
those fundamentals into digitised
or animated sequences, putting
3D figures and objects-very often
based on live actors and physical
props shot using motion control
cameras-into renderings of the set.
FrameForge Previz Studio 3 is
used predominantly on feature
films-including individual sequences
in The Hangover III and Steven
Spielberg's The Terminal-but has
found applications in TV as well. It
has been used to plot out big crowd
scenes for Downton Abbey and is
part of the pre-production process
for Belgium's most popular soap
opera, Thuis (Home).

Autodesk has partnered with James
Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment
and Peter Jackson's Weta Digital to
develop virtual production technology
for the motion picture industry

FrameForge president and
lead software designer Kenneth
Schafer says previsualisation does
not necessarily have to be used
for everything but can help in the
case of a soap, which has a huge
number of episodes every year,
or a on a film where the viability
of a particular scene needs to be
confirmed. Schafer adds that it
is also beneficial to independent
filmmakers who are trying to raise
money for a project because previs
can give a good impression of what
the proposed movie might look like
without going to the expense of
physically shooting test sequences.
Schafer describes Previz Studio
3 as a virtual set on a computer,
which allows people to explore and
find the best image for each part
of the story. It includes real world
camera equipment and peripherals,
with features including pan/tilt, dolly,
zoom, roll and crane control; a
lighting mixer for creating light and
shadows; and a library of objects
and figures so sets can be created
and populated with actors and
props. All of which can be animated
and synchronised with the script.
The writing element of filmmaking
was Schafer's starting point in the
industry. He has written scripts,
including for Star Trek: The Next
Generation, but moved into software
in 1991 with the Movie Magic
Screenwriter program. He later had
an ambition to direct but "came to
my senses", although the experience
made him think about other aspects
of the process: "I became frustrated
with storyboarding software, a lot
of which was basically clip art. I
talked to a lot of directors and
cinematographers and the response
was that they were looking for an
animated storyboard that could
preview scenes and visual effects
but not one that took over from how
they would usually work."
Schafer comments that a major
difference between FrameForge's
approach and other previsualisation
programs is that Previz Studio 3 can
be operated by almost anyone, not
just visual effects artists. Among
established software that comes
from a VFX background, but also
with the influence of computer
aided design (CAD), is Autodesk's
Maya and 3ds Max. Over the
years Autodesk has acquired

Take4D incorporates
a number of different
real-time virtual
camera systems for
different shooting
requirements

leading companies in motion
picture technology, including Alias,
Discreet and Softimage, a strategy
that has resulted in its present
product portfolio.
3ds Max provides 3D modelling,
a n i m a t i o n , re n d e r i n g a n d
compositing for games, film and
moving graphics production. The
2014 version includes crowd
generation, particle animation and
perspective matching. Maya also
offers 3D animation with modelling,
rendering and compositing features
but also features simulation
capability within a scalable
production platform.
Nick Manning, Senior Manager of
Global Field Marketing for Media and
Entertainment at Autodesk, says it is
easy today to have previsualisation
as part of a production pipeline: "In
its most basic form previsualisation
allows people to save money by
testing shot layouts using computer
graphics. When you've got the
overheads of crew previs can keep
down costs because you can try
out sequences in pre-production
and only go on the set once
everything is ready."
More recently, Manning observes,
the "rise of the virtual studio" has
become another area where previs is
proving itself: "It's being used on set
as part of the production workflow
for visualising visual effects. For
example, James Cameron had
a 'virtual camera lens' during the
making of Avatar so he could see
what the CG elements would look
like in relation to live action."
Manning comments that this
approach is being used in television
as well as cinema in the creation

of visual effects, which is often an
expensive business. "Over the years
films and television series have had
a requirement for better and more
comprehensive VFX but that - and
post-production - is a more costly
part of TV production," he says.
"One way of saving money is to use
previs to make sure that the effects
are right from the beginning. And
these days the quality of previs
tools is that much better, with higher
resolution and flexibility in terms of
scaling up and down, so it is being
used in production and post as well
as in the early planning stages."
This ability to plan ahead
comprehensively with the confidence
that the end results will be the same
as what is previewed, is, in a sense,
agrees Richard Widgery, Founder
of Take4D, merging the once
separate stages of pre-production,
production and post. "Now people
are saying 'Why not take the pre
out of previsualisation?' and we are
achieving that today," he says.
Widgery started out in the film and
TV business 25 years ago working
on animatronics at Jim Henson's
Creature Shop. He got into motion
CONTINUED ON PAGE 76

An abstract composition designed
and rendered in Autodesk 3ds Max
software


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of In Broadcast - November 2013

In Broadcast - November 2013
Contents
InNews: Engineering Emmy Awards
InNews: K-Opticom Live 4K Hevc Transmission
InForm: Sislive Product Range Success
InFocus: JVC Delivers Global Content Camcorder
InStudio: Litepanels Sola 12
InGear: Ikegami Unicam-HD Camera
InGear: Soundfield DMI Aces Top Tennis Tournament
In Broadcast - November 2013 - Intro
In Broadcast - November 2013 - In Broadcast - November 2013
In Broadcast - November 2013 - Cover2
In Broadcast - November 2013 - Contents
In Broadcast - November 2013 - InNews: Engineering Emmy Awards
In Broadcast - November 2013 - 5
In Broadcast - November 2013 - InNews: K-Opticom Live 4K Hevc Transmission
In Broadcast - November 2013 - 7
In Broadcast - November 2013 - 8
In Broadcast - November 2013 - 9
In Broadcast - November 2013 - 10
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In Broadcast - November 2013 - 26
In Broadcast - November 2013 - 27
In Broadcast - November 2013 - InForm: Sislive Product Range Success
In Broadcast - November 2013 - 29
In Broadcast - November 2013 - 30
In Broadcast - November 2013 - 31
In Broadcast - November 2013 - InFocus: JVC Delivers Global Content Camcorder
In Broadcast - November 2013 - 33
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In Broadcast - November 2013 - 36
In Broadcast - November 2013 - 37
In Broadcast - November 2013 - 38
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In Broadcast - November 2013 - InStudio: Litepanels Sola 12
In Broadcast - November 2013 - 43
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In Broadcast - November 2013 - InGear: Ikegami Unicam-HD Camera
In Broadcast - November 2013 - 59
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In Broadcast - November 2013 - 61
In Broadcast - November 2013 - 62
In Broadcast - November 2013 - 63
In Broadcast - November 2013 - InGear: Soundfield DMI Aces Top Tennis Tournament
In Broadcast - November 2013 - 65
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In Broadcast - November 2013 - S1
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