Chris King is the Head of 3D at Nineteentwenty, which has studios in London & Bristol, UK (www.nineteen-twenty.com). Here, he discusses the benefits of previs and some of the studio’s recent applications of the process.
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?
King: “Previs has become crucial to the production process. I think that can be attributed to the growing demand for having the best possible idea of what the end result may be, before large amounts of time and money are spent. Whether that is preparing for a complex shoot or preparing for heavy post production. That demand is now coming from each person involved in the process, whether creative, financial or legal and from either practical or virtual sides.”
Can you discuss some of the key benefits of previs/postvis?
King: “When done well, in close conjunction with a director, previs can allow you to explore ideas quickly, discard what doesn't work and push forward to a shot, sequence or full edit that can give the best visual idea of how the project will progress.”
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?
King: “Previs is integral on any job that requires any significant amount of 3D work, In Sky Cinema’s Floating, previs was crucial for the development of the commercial and we wouldn’t have been able to produce the advert without it. Even in a very tight schedule, over half the time was used in previs, perfecting the :40 camera move.
“Pan di Stelle’s (pictured) Merenda and Biscotto required big green-screen shoots for the human characters. In preparation we relied heavily on previs and spent time, not only on camera and character movement, but also on lighting direction. This gave the DOP a starting point of where to place his key light from shot to shot.
“We have also used previs on Glenfiddich’s (pictured below) Unlearn Whiskey, Littlewoods and Very Black Friday, Coronation Street’s No Where Left to Run, and ITV’s X Factor. In each project, it was used in varying degrees from one or two shots to the entire commercial.”
Some previs is so detailed, it’s almost like a finished project — what’s the level of detail you typically need to provide?
King: “It is important to get a balance, a little beauty work must go into it, making it easy on the eye. No one wants to start out a project looking at something uninspiring but the emphasis should be on the area that needs to be developed. Whether that is camera move, lens, timing, key light direction or blocking animation. Going too far can make it look like an early render and may open a can of worms. As with any creative project, guiding feedback towards what needs to be addressed at each stage of the process is crucial.”
What software tools are you using for your previs/postvis work?
King: “Maya, Nuke and Nuke Studio.”