Previs Techniques: New Power Production Strategies For Cinematics

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

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. 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. Here at Animatic Media, we use our own version of previs [sometimes spelled previz] as part of a strategy to save client’s 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 rather epic story requirements with an insanely tight deadline. Skating on a longboard, a grandfather explores a busy city terrain. A camera tracks his every move in one continuous shot. All the while, 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 a minimum of 2 days. And if the client wanted to change the camera angle, you're really $%^&#!!

In a scenario like this, doing things the standard way is impossible. It takes too long to have a storyboard artist draw storyboards, edit timing drafts, plan motion capture, add keyframe animation, then render and composite high-definition scenes for final output. In addition, 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 previsualize any adjustments needed before the shoot, improving efficiency. We decided to borrow film industry previs techniques and apply them to the world of commercial testing.

From over 9437 animatic productions, Animatic Media have developed a large library of pre existing 3D assets. Drawing on this, we’re quick to assemble scenes. In this case, we needed cities, props and low poly people. As you’ll see in the images, low poly models contain less detail:

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

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. The storyboard panels were used to assign scene numbers throughout the production:

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 optimum efficiency.

Image 2

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

Previs Techniques in the Final Edit

When we reach this stage of the production, all the animation is created by hand. The previs data is used 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.

Image 3

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 mocap footage edit is passed along to the animators. They use it to key-frame animate the expressions and combine that action with the motion capture footage.

You can view the complete spot here:

Power Production Complete

Phew! As our case study demonstrates, previs techniques help power productions. Using previs, at Animatic Media we’re able to accelerate 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 to click here to see more 3d cinematics