Computer Graphics World

September/October 2013

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Previs .com Article: Go to "Extras" in the September/October 2013 issue box for a Great Gatsby previs story. Photo: Douglas Kirkland. ©2013 Bazmark Film III Pty. Ltd. and around Sydney, a single shot would often be an amalgam of numerous plates. It was a logistical nightmare, factoring in the partial sets that were built, fitting in the stereo camera rig, what would be digital, what would be practical, and how to combine multiple locations into a single frame. "We had meetings with Baz where he'd discuss his vision for scenes. While we had storyboards, oftentimes we only had an excerpt from the script, and we'd design and pitch ideas to Baz, says Sonerson. " One of the most complicated set pieces, the New York High Line sequence, saw the main character and his friend drive from Gatsby's mansion to a speakeasy downtown, with the elevated railroad track of the High Line, which cuts through Manhattan's Lower West Side, looming in the background. The drive went from East Egg, Long Island, through the Valley of Ashes, then past the TJ Eckleburg sign to New York City. The production crew also needed Sonerson to provide detailed techvis for layouts of actually achievable shots. With so many large-scale and elaborate sets – for Dan Cody's yacht, the Buchanan's mansion, and Gatsby's party scenes, for example – space would often be limited, requiring careful plotting of camera placement, technocrane movement, speed timings, and so forth. While relying on Adobe's Photoshop and his custom Maya tool set throughout the previs, in postvis Sonerson used The Foundry's Nuke for compositing. After the shoot, Sonerson's team tracked the camera and postvis'd the plates over both the previs background and set extensions, delivering the rough composite to editorial to work out the final cut. Once that was approved, Sonerson handed off the previs environments to the final effects vendors, who then used them for their initial layouts and crafting high-res models. Prevising the Future With each show, Sonerson is constantly inventing new tools for his previs kit. Mostly Maya-based, he says, the software 32 ■ CGW Sep t em ber / O c t ober 2013 ■ Previs proved helpful for Director Baz Luhrmann on the set of The Great Gatsby. allows for the rapid setup of a pipeline and the output of useful data for on-set, location, and editorial use. For Gatsby, he was able to add a multi-camera rig and exporter tool to process and output an environment for on-set viewing on an iPad. "What's currently lacking in previs, Sonerson adds, "is that " bridge between creating the shots and the output of actually useful data describing how they're to be achieved on set. The advent of tablets and GPS-based software made a big difference for Luhrmann, especially when coordinating the camera with a lot of bluescreen and background replacements. As VFX shots become more complex, tools that enable the crew to understand how to set up a shot to achieve final VFX will help not only on set, but will save a lot of time in postproduction, as well. " Frankel echoes Sonerson's desire to see better analytic tools in Maya for the output of more useful data for the on-set crew. "On a recent production for Universal, we worked on an incredibly complicated shot that had to be precisely engineered. The tolerances were so small that we were making pan-and-tilt adjustments of less than one-tenth of a degree. And we had to analyze camera speed and acceleration to make sure the rigs were capable of starting and stopping within the available space, he says. " Having worked on numerous 3D films, Sonerson has already built custom digital camera rigs to emulate the stereo cameras used on set, along with data output tools for Maya. He says, "Per-frame data from the previs would then be exported from Maya for use by the crew for placing and moving the camera, staging actors and props, and determining focus, interocular distance, and convergence settings. " Frankel would also like to see better analytic tools within Maya for testing 3D. Right now, they operate in a hunt-andpeck mode, he says, and animators can make adjustments

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