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March 2016

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Page 34 of 51 33 POST MARCH 2016 s a new part of the production process, previs/postvis was initially a tough sell, with studios trying to justify it, reason what its benefits were, and understand the important role it would play in production and post. Today, previs/postvis has come a long way, becoming a must-have tool that filmmakers rely on to realize their cre- ative visions. Here, Post speaks with four studios that are leading the way in this now essential stage of production. They discuss its huge benefits in time, money and, in some cases, sometimes making the difference for a director in selling his vision to a studio. PROOF Ron Frankel is the founder and creative director of Proof (, which has studios in Los Angeles and London. He got into the business back in 1996, having studied architecture, and gained familiarity with auto CAD and modeling. "It was up and coming at time," he says of the animation technology. A job at Pixel Liberation Front introduced him to the business of previs, where they used 3D-modeling tools for design and planning. "I never let go of that idea," he adds, "and it's the foundation of what Proof was built on." Today, Proof has approximately 35 artists at each location, where they use animation software — Maya specifically — to plan out feature films, architecture, immersive environments and even games. The rise of virtual reality and augmented reality, says Frankel, is leading him to soon open a new division that will cater to non- screen-based content. "I think it's a better business," he says of previs, in comparison to straight visual ef- fects work. "It has its benefits — pros and cons. Previs is a 'time & materials' model. We get paid for time spent working on a production. If it goes longer than expect- ed, we keep getting paid. We don't flat bid a project. It's a more simplistic model. We don't operate with big margins [but it's] more predictable." Frankel says the studio will typical- ly start with a project's 'high priority' work, particularly visual effects-intensive sequences. "That's where you get most value," he explains. "Previs gives them a first glimpse." This can range from working out a tricky shot, to even mapping out a shoot location so decisions can be made as to where to put production trailers so they won't interfere with the shoot. Proof has provided previs services at a number of different stages in production. 'Pitchvis' is a process designed to look great and catch the audience's eye. It has a higher-end look than 'previs,' which can be more bare bones and utilitarian. "The visual quality is less important, but needs to look engaging," he says of the latter. 'Techvis' involves more data mining, he adds. "Everything is built to scale — characters on the ground, cameras on the ground, physical size and weight for cameras." This includes the constraints of a stage. Can a camera be moved at the speed needed for the shot? Does a stage have the height needed for an overhead shot? The idea is to anticipate any issues that might come up before the day of the shoot. 'Postvis' is used after a shoot, Frankel explains. Editorial will provide Proof with background plates and they will create temp visual effects. This allows editors to be more creative during the offline edit without worrying that the visual effects facility may have already committed to a certain cut. Proof recently provided previs and post vis services for the new Lionsgate feature, Gods of Egypt. "For Gods of Egypt, we went with a bit of a hybrid approach," Frankel explains, comparing it to the studio's work on Guardians of the Galaxy. "It's essentially an alien world. It's not a world that any of us are familiar with, so we have no precon- ceived ideas." They went with detailed color rep- resentation, thanks in part to the look established by production designer Owen Paterson. "It was beautiful — rich with Egyptian hieroglyphics and colors — so it felt necessary to represent that in the previs," he recalls. The film features a number of different 'realms,' so previs helped distinguish one from another. "As you move from one realm to another, you get a sense there was some kind of transition or transformation of the environment," says Frankel. "But the characters we left in that more illustrated look. It was one of the things that was more important to (director) Alex Proyas. It was all being filmed with live actors, so he wasn't really looking to the previs to evoke emotional performance. It was really just for blocking purposes. Keeping the characters in that more illustrated look helped him focus on the mechanics of how the shots were being set up and how the sequences were being set up." Proof worked closely with VFX su- pervisor Eric Durst on the design and execution of some of the film's large CG characters. "There are some big CG creatures that you see in the trailer," says Frankel. "Enormous snake beasts. We were getting the designs from the art department, but were looking with Alex on how big are they really? That's always a big question. You design one of these creatures and you know it's enormous, but you have to put a human on top of it. You ask yourself, 'Well, how enormous is it? How fast does it travel? How do they move?' Those all become important questions that you have to answer in order to convey the Proof's Ron Frankel says its recent project, Gods of Egypt, was beautiful and he felt it important to include the hieroglyphics and colors in the previs. A

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