The Importance of Previsualisation in Video Production

March 6, 2024

Have you ever imagined how great it would be if, in life, we could see the outcome of the actions we take beforehand? It would be to see oneself in a new car before buying it or to analyse interactions with new colleagues before accepting a job offer. Unfortunately, it's not yet possible to preview all our decisions, but we have great news. When it comes to producing your video or film, it is indeed possible to preview the final result before investing resources into the piece.

Learn more about the importance of previsualisation in video production.

What is Previsualisation?

Previsualisation, often abbreviated as previs, is a bridge between the initial concept and the final product. It involves creating preliminary visualisations of complex scenes within a film, television production, or advertisement before filming begins. This process can vary in complexity, from simple sketches to detailed 3D animations, depending on the project's needs and the scenes' sophistication.

Why Is This Technique Important?

Previsualisation offers many advantages. First and foremost, this technique allows for greater cohesion among directors, cinematographers, VFX teams, and other stakeholders, since everyone can preview the results of what will be done in advance. Discussing and refining ideas becomes more manageable when there's a concrete visual reference to work from, which leads to more creative and effective problem-solving.

Moreover, it facilitates the work of logistics and planning. By using this approach, video agencies have a blueprint of how a scene will play out, enabling better planning of camera angles, lighting, positioning of actors, and the coordination of special effects. This reduces the likelihood of costly reshoots or delays, as potential issues can be identified and addressed in advance.

Speaking of costs, anyone involved in video production knows that one of the biggest challenges of this activity is managing expenses. Through previsualisation, the team can allocate resources more efficiently, as it allows for foreseeing which parts of the filming will require more resources. It also helps managers better understand the costs involved and the budget needed to complete the project. If budget constraints arise, previs helps identify areas for cuts, allowing for expense reallocation without sacrificing artistic vision.

There's also the advantage of experimentation. This approach allows producers to make real-time script changes and immediately see the impact. Thus, the video can be altered while being prepared to achieve the best possible final result, in the shortest time and at the lowest cost.

Previsualisation also benefits post-production, particularly for videos heavily relying on special effects. Using previs, the team ensures that all elements are correctly aligned and that the footage shot during production integrates seamlessly with VFX in post-production.

Types of Previsualisation

There are many forms of previs, such as storyboards, animatics, animations, technical previsualisation and virtual production.

Storyboards are a visual display of a film, animation, video game, or any narrative project, laid out in a sequence of panels or frames. Each panel represents a pivotal scene or shot, with illustrations or images depicting what will appear on the screen. They often include text annotations describing camera movements, dialogue and sound effects.

Animatics, in turn, are essentially animated storyboards. They involve creating a preliminary version of a sequence by adding motion to storyboard images, often including basic sounds or dialogue. This method conveys the final production's timing, pacing, and flow of various shots more effectively.

3D previsualisation takes the concept of animatics further by incorporating detailed 3D models and animations. It allows a more sophisticated exploration of camera angles, lighting, character movements, and visual effects.

Technical previsualisation focuses on lighting, camera setups, and scene geometry. It is essential in projects that require intricate lighting schemes or special camera rigs.

Virtual production represents the cutting edge of previsualisation, merging real-time video game engine technology with filmmaking techniques. With it, directors and cinematographers see their scenes unfold in real-time with near-final visual effects, sets, and character animations.

Tips to Get the Best Out of Previsualisation

Begin by clearly understanding the story you want to tell and the emotions you aim to evoke. Use photographs, artwork, and film references to communicate your goal.

Involve directors, cinematographers, production designers, and visual effects supervisors early in the previs process. Their input can help identify potential issues and creative opportunities from the outset. Regular meetings and updates ensure everyone remains aligned with the project's vision and progress. Be prepared to modify your previs based on technical, logistical, or creative feedback.

Concentrate your efforts on the most complex or VFX-heavy scenes. These are typically the most challenging to execute and benefit most from thorough planning. Do not fall into the temptation of being overly detailed at this stage. Remember that the goal here is not to create the final product but to prepare for what will come. Previsualisation is a sort of rehearsal before the actual rehearsal. Focus on conveying the scene's essence rather than getting bogged down in minutiae. Keep detailed records of decisions made during previs, including camera angles, lens choices, and lighting setups.

How We Do It

Sunday Treat's approach to previsualisation blends traditional methods with innovative, hands-on techniques to ensure our productions are not only logistically sound but also creatively inspiring and fun. That's why we often physically act out scenes in environments we plan to film. This approach allows us to experiment with movement, blocking, and interaction with the environment, which is invaluable for visualising the final scene.

Moreover, engaging with the actual space helps in understanding the limitations and opportunities it presents. This knowledge is crucial for planning camera movements, lighting setups, and the actors' positioning.

We have many examples of successful campaigns that greatly benefited from well-done previsualisation. In this campaign for, for instance, previs allowed us to make some adjustments to the script that led to a production with a more positive, dynamic, and natural rhythm.

In this video for Epson, the team used storyboards to demonstrate the creative vision expected by directors and clients.

Would you like to bring your vision to life with unmatched clarity and creativity? From immersive scene acting in real-world environments to collaborative storyboarding and cutting-edge 3D animations, we ensure that every aspect of your project is meticulously planned and perfectly aligned with your creative goals.

Don't let logistical uncertainties or creative doubts hold you back. Contact us today.

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