Previs Techniques: New Power Production Strategies For Animatics

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Animaticmedia took on a :30 3D animation project for Valenstein & Fatt, London that was due in 8 days. It had no storyboard, no look development and only a loose shot list. This is how we pulled it off…

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Previz version Finished spot

What exactly is Previs?

Is your production feeling the squeeze of time? Then meet previs, your power production superhero.

So, what is this new production champion – a storyboard? An animatic? Previs uses 3D animation to previsualize the technical aspects of your scenes during the preproduction stage. The technique uses low quality but fast rendering 3D models. You get to test camera angles, lens and timing of a story in real time. At Animatic Media, we use our own version of previs [also previz] as part of a strategy to save clients time and money. Follow this case study to find out how...

Animatic Case Study

Valenstein & Fatt, formerly Grey London, reached out to us for a 3D cinematic. Our brief combined epic story requirements with a tight deadline. Skating on a longboard, a grandfather explores a busy city terrain. A camera tracks his every move in one continuous shot. We needed to showcase various locations and characters in crowded street scenes. The deadline for the cinematic...8 days.

Let's put this production request into perspective. A typical 3D cinematic job from a game company may take months to produce and cost millions. Alas, this is the world of advertising. For a project of this scale, the storyboards alone would take at least 2 days. And if the client wanted to change the camera angle after prepro, you're $%^&#!!

In a scenario like this, doing things the standard way is impossible. It takes too long to do these usual steps:

  • Have a storyboard artist draw storyboards.
  • Edit timing drafts.
  • Plan motion capture.
  • Add keyframe animation.
  • Render and composite high-definition scenes for final output.

Also, the concept involved a continuous shot that called for a camera to track his every move. The technical depth of these techniques would struggle to show this in an accurate way. Previs to the rescue!

Borrowing Previs Techniques from the Film Industry

Previs is in regular use in the film industry. Mapping out action in 3D animation walks crew members through the technical details. It empowers them to visualize any adjustments needed before the shoot, improving efficiency. We borrowed from these film industry previs techniques. We then applied them to the world of commercial testing.

Animatic Media has created over 9437 animatics. From these, Animatic Media has developed a large library of preexisting 3D assets. Drawing on this, we’re quick to assemble scenes. In this case, we needed cities, props and low polycount people. As you’ll see in the images, low polycount models contain less detail:


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But, using low polycount allows us to create and render our previs much faster. Previs maps out a continuous camera movement better than a standard animatic. We delivered this initial 30 second previz animation in 24 hours time:

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Fast Forward for Storyboards

With a previz in place, our power production strategies flip the traditional process. We create the storyboard at this point using screen capture images from the footage. Much faster than a storyboard artist drawing, this kept our tight deadline on track. We used the storyboard panels to assign scene numbers throughout the production:

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Image 1

Klipnotes Collaboration

Klipnotes is our in-house proprietary animation app for remote collaboration. As you’ll see in the image, our clients use it to provide feedback on the initial previs. This is another power production strategy that keeps our work at greatest efficiency.

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After a few rounds of collaboration using Klipnotes, we used the feedback to bring the spot to this phase:

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Previs Techniques in the Final Edit

When we reach this stage of the production, we create all the animation by hand. We use the previs data to produce timed motion capture sequences. As the images show, we do this in a 22”x 22” square foot space using Optitrack motion capture software.

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The previs is still in use – see the top right corner of Image 3. Now, the editor uses it as a guide to stitch the mocap footage together. Next, the director passes along the mocap footage edit to the animators. The animators use that reference to key-frame animate the expressions. They then combine that action with the motion capture footage.

You can view the complete spot here:
https://www.animaticmedia.com/skateboard

Power Production Complete

Phew! As our case study demonstrates, previs techniques help power productions. Using previs, at Animatic Media we’re able to speed up to meet the demands of your tight deadline. As you’ve seen, borrowing this film technique translated well for advertising. The efficiencies also open up new possibilities for other businesses. If you think 3D animation might suit your next project, get in touch with us to discuss the possibilities.

If you would like to get in touch with us you can contact us here and click here to see more 3d cinematics