Phil Oldham is a Creative Director at Absolute Post (http://absolutepost.com), which has locations in both London and New York City. Here, he discusses the studio’s previs capabilities and how they are using them to streamline production.
Previs/postvis has really come into its own over the past few years – what do you attribute to its increasing and important role in production?
Oldham: “The proliferation can really be put down to the convergence of, the need for efficiency on set, and the turnaround speed of CG.”
Can you discuss some of the key benefits of previs/postvis?
Oldham: “Previs is an excellent way to solve problems on set, before they are a problem. The average cost per day for a shoot is around £160K, so if you are standing around a playback monitor for five minutes scratching your head, that's about £1300 of value that's not up on the screen. Incidentally, £1300 is about the cost of a days worth of previz.”
Can you cite recent projects where previs helped save time or money? Or, how it was key in figuring out how a scene would play out?
Oldham: “I can think of two projects, both different in their requirements for previs. The first was a Nespresso commercial. It was an effects-heavy number playing with perspectives. The need for previs was obvious, lens and camera positions were planned, props and set dimensions were produced. The whole shot hung off the previs. The second was a promo for Red Bull. It had no massive VFX, it was just the filming location was very small, and so the director used previs to play with lenes and blocking.”
Some previs is so detailed, it’s almost like a finished project — what’s the level of detail you typically need to provide?
Oldham: “It really depends on who the previz is for. If purely a technical exercise and it's for internal viewing, then it can be very rudimentary. On the flip side, if it's going to a non-technical audience, then the results should be a little more polished. I've had an unhappy client because the color of the CG character’s tie was the wrong Pantone on a previs.”
Do you offer techvis as a service, and if so, in what capacity?
Oldham: “Absolutely. We will lease with all department heads from art department,camera,wardrobe and stunt, to produce something that everyone can use to make the shoot run smoothly.”
What software tools are you using for your previs/postvis work?
Oldham: “We use the same pipeline for all CG work including previs. This allows us to reuse assets made for the previs in the main production. The software we use is Maya and Houdini, rendering in V-ray.”