Previs is an abbreviation for previsualisation. This is the process of using computer-rendering software as a tool for working out concept designs and complex scenes. This is also used to work out camera angles, budgets and other requirements such as space and material.
Traditionally, storyboards, concept sketches and physical models were used but are steadily being replaced with computer-based practises. The advantages of previs are experimentation, speed of design and ease of making adjustments.
Using previs in the early stages of filmmaking does not necessarily indicate that the film will later rely on CGI. Previs is a separate process and usually handled by a different team.
Software for previs ranges from highly sophisticated software used by a team of professionals to more simple, user-friendly software often used by production designers or the directors themselves. I am looking in particular at the previs capabilities of Google SketchUp used by production designers Alex McDowell (Fight Club, Minority Report, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and Jim Bissell (E.T., Good Night, and Good Luck, 300).
Below is a video of Alex McDowell talking about the previs used in the production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
You can read an article about Jim Bissell’s use of SketchUp here, and view a video about his design process for the film 300.
1. Workman, M. (2012), bbgsu-01-pirates-900px.jpg [ONLINE]. Available at:http://mattworkman.com/v7/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/bbgsu-01-pirates-900px.jpg [Accessed 28 April 13].
2. Frazer, B. (2011), 520_sketch-up.jpg [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.studiodaily.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/520_sketch-up.jpg [Accessed 28 April 13].
1. The Third Floor -Home- Digital Previs. 2013. The Third Floor -Home- Digital Previs. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.thethirdfloorinc.com/#pre-production-1e8854. [Accessed 28 April 2013].
2. Trimble SketchUp . 2013. Trimble SketchUp . [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.sketchup.com/industries/digitalentertainment/previs.html. [Accessed 28 April 2013].
3. Google SketchUp – TV & Film Case Study – BlackBerry Challenge Council – @ Matt Workman Cinematographer. 2013. Google SketchUp – TV & Film Case Study – BlackBerry Challenge Council – @ Matt Workman Cinematographer. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.mattworkman.com/v7/google-sketchup-tv-film-case-study-blackberry-challenge-council/. [Accessed 28 April 2013].