Previsualization (previs) is a pre-production process that uses 3D animation tools to generate preliminary versions of shot or sequences. This process is quickly gaining popularity in live action film and is beginning to be used in animation production as well. This is because it fosters creativity by allowing for designers and artists to experiment more freely and intuitively with visual design choices, and insures efficiency in production and postproduction. Previs is also able to provide a means to communicate and test plans visually in the pre-production stage which enhances clarity and understanding.

Previsualization (previs) is part of the pre-production process in both live-action and animated film-making. The main function of previs in large studio productions is to visualize complex scenes before they go into full-scale production by planning sequences visually. The modern usage of the term  previs” usually implies doing this digitally with 3D animation software, though in concept, storyboarding can easily be considered part of the previs process. Previsualization by large studios gives the advantage of including exploration and discovery in the planning toolkit, as well as providing a blueprint that more easily communicates ideas across many departments and individuals, including technical data.

Because previs is a rapidly growing and evolving process in the industry, we felt that it was important to ask professionals to describe what is being done with previs currently in each of their studios, how it is impacting their creative process, and what they envision for its future. In this chapter, we will present some of the results of these interviews, which included these practitioners from the following major animation

The second aspect of my thesis was the creation of a short animation in which we assume all the roles of filmmaking. This paper focuses on one aspect of our filmmaking process, which is my use of previs techniques. we are a newcomer to computer animation and have much to learn not only about the technicalities, but also defining our own process and finding our strengths and weaknesses. In the third chapter, we will be writing in depth about the process of making Wonder, and how previs was used in this context.

“Layout” in animation is generally referred to as the process in pre-production in which sets were built, defining scale and location. In many studios, the layout process has evolved to a point where it is now nearly indistinguishable from the previs process used in live-action films – both having influenced the other. In some cases, “layout” and “previs” might be two separate processes, and each studio seems to have different ways in which these processes are used.

Sharing Live-Action and Animated Filmmaking Techniques in Previs The approach currently being taken to previs in 3D animation is becoming creasingly more influenced by the approaches developed for the use of previs in liveaction film making. “The big difference between live-action and animation is [in animation] that we storyboard and storyboard until we’ve got every scene exactly worked 16 out. It’s locked down compared to live-action, where they shoot 20 takes of the same scene and then use cross-cutting to come up with something unique. That’s the pure genius of filmmaking. And we’ve never really been able to do that in animation until now. Using previsualization – which we call animatics – we’re now  getting to the point where we’ll shoot what’s indicated in the storyboard, but then we’ll give the editor an intercut or a couple of different angles. By giving editors the opportunity to cross-cut, they can create something with a real live-action feel to it.”

Experimenting outside of what was locked down in the storyboarding process would not likely have been in consideration a few years ago, due to concern about the time the experiments might take and the resources (mostly time and money due to increased worker hours) that were required. If it takes a significant amount of time and resources to build and model a full scene complete with props and characters, certainly it can seem questionable
that a central aspect of previs is to, rather than shorten that process, do it twice.