Spaceship flying around mountains

3D animation has come a long way and in today’s world of filming and pre-production, previs has replaced all that was known to the filmmaker and has established a new form of creativity and visual style. 3D visualization is leading the way and by far winning popularity around the globe.

Spend any time perusing the conference session lists of events like FMX, SIGGRAPH and VIEW and you’ll find ample selections focused on various aspects of previsualization.  And while every day the value and demonstrable production rewards of expanded previs efforts become more apparent, many in the filmmaking community are still in the dark as to how previs is used and, as silly as it might sound, what it really looks like. The reasons for this chasm between practical relevance and general understanding are many.  First and foremost, no one can really talk about most previs projects until well after a film is released, which in some cases, is months if not years after the work has been completed.  Second, since much of the work is not final, polished, rendered visuals, getting studio approval to publicize often simple looking concept work is not always easy. It’s also hard for many creative professionals schooled in and comfortable with more traditional methods of content development to shift their contextual focus to uniquely collaborative contextual previs methodologies and applications.

But it seems things are changing, and if the April 15th Motion Picture Academy’s VFX Convergence event focusing on previs and postvis is any indicator, maybe the time has finally come where previs artists and their studios can share more of their work with the community at large, paving the way for more understanding and acceptance of the increasingly important work they do.  Maybe, previs is finally beginning to get its due.

If you’ve ever spent a day at an industry conference, you know sessions are often a mixed bag. Speakers of various capabilities, some insightful and riveting, some, who after speaking 30 seconds, have sucked all the air out of the room. It’s quite frustrating when your expectations for an informative session are dashed by the presenter’s obvious lack of preparation and ultimate inability to stay on track and actually talk about the topics spelled out in the program. Such laziness if really appalling.

This Academy program, however, was everything a well-organized program should be.  It was well planned, with expert presenters who came thoroughly prepared, who spoke intelligently and thoughtfully.  They each showed a wide range of illustrative video clips from some of Hollywood’s biggest films. Most importantly, they each presented material whose subjects dovetailed beautifully, with very little overlap.  Each presenter covered new ground, but always within the context of everything discussed by the previous speakers. The danger inherent in five speaker panels is that by the third presentation, there’s no new ground and for the rest of the session, you want to gouge your eyes out.

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