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March 2016

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PREVIS 34 POST MARCH 2016 believability of the effect. They also affect the pacing of the sequence." Proof won't get involved in the more nuanced effects, such as the light reflect- ing off the creature's scales, or how the pupils in its eyes dilate. "We are looking at the bigger mechanics of it." Autodesk Maya is used for modeling, animation and rendering. Proof has also built a suite of productivity tools. "We do everything with hardware rendering. It's Maya's built-in Viewport 2.0, but we've written some custom shad- ers to it so we can tweak the look of the previs to suit our needs." Speed is the name of the game when it comes to previs. "If a director has an idea, it does not work very well if we turn around and say, 'Give us three days.' We are work- ing at the speed of ideas, and ideas change rapidly." — Marc Loftus BLUR STUDIO Director Tim Miller and visual effects supervisor David Stinnett opened Blur Studio ( in 1995, taking on a good amount of studio, gaming and advertising projects. The studio, based in Culver City, CA, is known for its work in animation, motion graphics, digital characters, visual effects and pre-visu- alization, among other things, and has seen continuous growth in feature film work. Most recently, Miller was tapped to direct 20th Century Fox's superhero hit, Deadpool, staring Ryan Reynolds. So when it came time to plan out shots and sequences, Miller naturally looked to his own team at Blur, with the studio's Franck Balson acting as previs super on the film. "Previs and postvis are playing a big- ger role than ever," says Balson. "I think filmmakers are really starting to get used to the idea of doing previs. Because at the end of the day, it helps them sell their ideas to the studio a lot earlier on and makes the studios feel more confident about the movie. Certainly about specific action sequences or sequences that might be hard to visualize for everybody and for all the stakeholders to get a better vision of what the director wants to do. It also helps keep costs down. For instance, if you go to shoot an expensive scene, like a car chase sequence where a lot of cars are going to be completely wrecked and there are going to be explo- sions and fire, all of that is going to cost money — a lot of money. But if you do the previs, it helps you know what kinds of shots you're going to be doing, what kind of equipment you're going to need, and keeps everybody aligned on what the director's vision is for that sequence." According to Balson, the studio completed around 45 previs and postvis shots for the film, including the opening title sequence, the closing credits, and the freeway scene that was previewed in the film's trailer. "That action sequence used to be so much longer," he says. "If you were to read the script, there was literally an extra seven minutes of action. We started on it and then reality kicked in and the budget kicked in, and we realized, we didn't have the money for all this. So that's one reason why you do previs, because you don't want to be on set shooting and then realize you can't afford to do the effects on it, and decide to not put it into the movie. So, doing it in previs is a good way to decide if it will make it into the movie or if the sequence is too long." The tools of choice at Blur are wide and varied, but are centered around a few staples — predominantly 3DS Max. For Deadpool, Balson says, "We did the previs and layout in 3DS Max, and then everything was cached out through MotionBuilder into Softimage." He adds that animation and rigging was complet- ed in Softimage, cached out a second time to go back into 3DS Max, and then all rendering/compositing on the film was done on Nuke. Balson points out, "I think the biggest advantage to previs is for the director. He's going to be able to see what he wants even before shooting. After that, I think it's a great benefit for the produc- tion team. They can plan the shooting much better. Having previs as a base re- ally allows you to plan ahead, rather than react, which would be almost impos- sible because you would lose so much time. On a compressed schedule, like on Deadpool, where we had a little more Blur's Franck Balson. The studio's previs work on Deadpool helped director Tim Miller achieve his vision.

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