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March 2016

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Page 36 of 51 35 POST MARCH 2016 than a year, and considering the amount of visual effects in the movie, having previs from the get-go really helped keep everyone in line with Tim's vision." — Linda Romanello ANIMATED STORYBOARDS Ezra Krausz founded Animated Storyboards (www.animatedstoryboards. com) at the turn of the century, open- ing his first studio in New York, and then expanding with nine additional locations, including Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Sao Paulo, Bangkok, Tel Aviv, Dusseldorf, Shanghai and, most recently, Toronto. He's not done either, with plans to open addi- tional previs studios in Paris and Mumbai later this year. "The initial idea was to do commer- cial previs for testing," Krausz explains. "The reason I started this company was, I always had a production company of my own, and every now and then we were asked to do previs for testing animatics…I took a course in Flash. Then, it was a new software — very cutting edge. And the second I saw the simplicity of the soft- ware, I had this idea that this is great for previs work. That's how it started." Krausz put together several Flash dem- os and began marketing his capabilities to agencies in New York and Chicago. "Basically, that's what we did. We started animating the previs. In a tradi- tional animatic way, the frames are still, and jump from A to B to C. We had better fluidity in the animatics," he says of the Flash demos. Today, Animated Storyboards will still use Flash on occasion, but much of their previs work is created using tools such as Autodesk's Maya and 3DS Max. They've used the tools to develop what Krausz calls a '3D illustrated' style that looks like 2D, but it is actually done in 3D. This has lead Animated Storyboards to branch out beyond spot work into video games. "That's a natural place to go," he says of video game art. "I am trying — like every business owner — to diversify our capabil- ities and markets. For the last 15 years we were doing previs for commercial work. In the last couple of years, we've been ex- panding our services and that's one of the markets we feel has a lot of potential." Motion capture also plays a big part in their previs efforts. The New York studio has motion capture capabilities, and at press time, Krausz says the studio had committed to leasing a 10,000-square- foot space in Brooklyn, where it would set up a dedicated mocap stage based on a 50-camera Vicon system. "We record two to three hours every day for our own needs for previs," he says of Animated Storyboard's motion capture recording. "That makes us very good at it. We have a good workflow, and [are good at] cleaning and retargeting." The new stage will be one of the largest on the East Coast. "We believe we can get some good business for motion capture recording both from the gam- ing industry, advertising industry, and, of course, feature films," he adds. According to Krausz, the studio will typically spend 20 to 30 minute recording motion capture performances for a :30 spot. The studio typically is given just two weeks from the time it is awarded until it needs to be delivered. A final previs spot, he says, can come as close as 90 percent of what the ultimate broadcast spot might look like. "That's not a long time," he says of the two-week process. Luckily, the compa- ny's network of offices allows for a 24- hour workflow. Animated Storyboards' worldwide studios also feature audio post capabilities. "We found that it's really helpful, that if you are offering previs, to offer sound as well," he notes. The worldwide network also helps with international versioning, a frequent request from clients. "If we need to record stuff in Brazil with a Brazilian VO artist, it's very easy for us," he adds. "That's a service we do quite often." Animated Storyboards recently provid- ed previs services for Pepsi's Super Bowl spot featuring singer/songwriter Janelle Monáe. "We work together with the agency creative team," explains Krausz. "We sketch it out first and then go into animation. In that case, we work with the choreographer, and have dancers come in and record motion capture. The final animatic is pretty close to the broadcast spot. It was done by a director of ours, an in-house director. When they go to shoot it, they try to bring in some new ideas as well, but it's quite close to what we did. The reason it goes to testing is when you when you get a good test on something, you don't want to change it too much." — Marc Loftus THE THIRD FLOOR Founded with the goal of helping film- makers reach their creative visions, The Third Floor ( creates previsualizations so filmmakers are able to "see" the possibilities long before the production team is on-loca- tion shooting, and then forced to make unexpected compromises. With studios in LA, London and Montreal, the studio has completed high-caliber previs work for such high-profile projects as Marvel's Avengers films, Skyfall, White House Down and Gravity. Most recently, the studio worked with director Robert Zemeckis on the 2015 adventure/drama The Walk. "The beauty of previs is that it can be purely creative in reflecting the story and director's approach, but also be used very practically for production and post to help determine the types of shots, action, environments, locations and visual effects that are needed," says Shawn Hull, previs supervisor at The Third Floor. "By leverag- ing previs, postvis and all of the benefits of visualization, filmmakers can essentially have tangible versions of their scenes and films across much of the planning, shoot- ing, post processing and editing. Combine that with realtime on-set visualization like simulcam, which was used on [The Walk], and you have the ability to confidently shape the project at every step." Hull says that on this film, "We started with a foundation of previs that covered nearly the entire movie. The visualization process included building environments, Animated Storyboards' credits include previs for Killer Queen's Royal Revolution perfume, starring Katy Perry (right), and Jever beer (below).

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