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March 2013

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The Third Floor's Eric Carney says previs business has increased ten-fold since the studio opened in 2005. Thunder Run, an all-CG production, goes a lot further. "We build up a scene," he explains of the previs process. "It helps with the edit. We basically have the whole movie edited before we start working on final assets. It's a previs that will turn into a production, where things will be replaced, and it's a lot better than storyboards." GFC generated what Hoit calls "a massive amount of assets" for Thunder Run. The film will feature as many as 30 characters with speaking roles. "Everything is generated and tracked," he says of the assets. "A lot of things can be duplicated and modified very easily. We'll change a little bit of a texture. If you see 30 taxis in a movie, we will probably only build two taxis and just change the textures." The studio uses Maya and Vray for modeling, lighting and rendering. When GFC starts generating assets, it's often with the idea that they will ultimately become the final assets as the project develops. Edit 1 upgrades NEW YORK — Since taking the reins at previsualization boutique Edit 1 (, company president Michael Zimbard has focused much of his energy on revamping the studio to meet the changing demands of today's ad agencies. New York-based agency Translation came to Edit 1 to work on a series of previsualizations for Bud Light and Bud Light Platinum that were concepted for this year's Super Bowl. In addition to completing full CGI spots under deadlines of less than five days, the spots called on Edit 1's creative team to help develop full shooting boards and concept frames. "Previsualization has become more than being able to deliver a polished test commercial," Zimbard says. "Agencies today are looking to us to elevate their ideas — not just execute them. The companies that do it best become known as an indispensable partner rather than an animatic factory." Edit 1 has also made some significant changes in their motion capture services and 3D character pipeline to offer clients the best marriage of technical capabilities with creative efficiencies. The company added an inertial motion capture system, which offers several advantages over traditional optical motion capture, not least of which is the ability to accurately capture an actor's motion without cameras. They also rolled out a proprietary character rigging tool for Maya and an enhanced asset management system designed for more seamless integration between artists, designers and editors. "The goal behind all of our recent development is to give our team more time to focus on the creative aspects of a job and less time negotiating technical hurdles," explains Michael Donovan, Edit 1's executive producer. "Even our space was redesigned to be forward-thinking and afford us room for continued growth." 24 Post • March 2013 Post0313_022-24,26-previsRAV5finalread.indd 24 Proof provided previs services for Paramount's Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. The level of details each asset receives depends on its role in the story. "If it's close to camera or if it's going to be a hero prop, we'll put in the extra time to make it look really good," says Hoit. "But, if it's further back, or is only going to be in the background for 10 seconds, it doesn't get a lot of love because you won't see it." The previs process, he describes, as "quick and dirty." A handful of artists will go through the script. Scenes will then be handed out to animators, who generate models pretty quickly. "Every shot gets generated and everything goes into editing," he says explains. "From editing, we get our final frames — every shot, every camera." While GFC relies on Maya, the pipeline can flex depending on outside contributors. "A lot of people have pipelines built around specific versions of Maya, or pipelines for particles that go through Houdini," he notes. "It's not too difficult these days to get things from one program to another." GFC uses iPi Soft's marker-less desktop motion capture system to quickly generate motions for previs. "You don't have to have any markers. You don't have to wear any special clothing," says Hoit. "You just turn it on and it records.Then, in less than 10 minutes, with a little clean up in the program, you can drop it in a scene, chop it up, and move it around." At press time, previs was finished for Thunder Run. Hoit estimates the studio spent seven to eight months working on the film's previs and assets, with approximately 10 animators contributing to the project, which is now in production. PROOF Ron Frankel founded Proof ( in 2002, with the idea of providing previsualization services to those working on feature films. Frankel himself studied architecture and was intent on working in the field, but says he got sucked into the visual effects world by using his practical knowledge to help troubleshoot scenes for directors and ultimately help them realize their visions. He spent several years working at Pixel Liberation Front in Venice, CA, where he had the opportunity to work on films such as Fight Club, Panic Room and Minority Report. "I came from a company that did previs and final effects," he recalls. There, he learned that artists working in previs had very specific skillsets, so when he launched his own company, he knew he needed to staff it accordingly. Today, Proof has a team of 20 in Los Angeles, and another 15 in London. Much of the studio's work is for feature films, as originally planned, but Proof has also expanded into previs for commercials and video installations. "Call us a visualization company," he explains. "We have our own artists and infrastructure, but it's all in the field of visualization and creative development." For film work, Frankel says previs is used to help directors determine if a shot can be captured on the stage size that's available. It can also be used to answer questions about cranes and the movement of a camera through a scene. "That's exactly why Proof needed to be founded as a previs company," he explains. "Previs requires incredibly skilled animators to realize the vision of filmmakers. They need to have enough practical knowledge of filmmaking and real-world practices." By working with a director well before a shoot, Frankel says they can determine what problems might come up during production, and the director, in turn, can go back to the production designer to devise a solution. For work that Proof does for experiencebased projects and installations, the team can help determine the size of a projector that will be needed to throw light onto the side of a building, for example. While Proof has worked on two entirelyanimated features to date, most of its work is for live-action projects. Previs services can range from figuring out how CG elements will work with live-action plates, to choreographing stunts that will be performed in-camera as live action, prior to a shoot. "It's not always based on effects," says Frankel, noting that they have worked on sequences that need to be 3/4/13 3:54 PM

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