Digital Pre-Vis

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    • #4436

        Dear Damocles

        Is digital pre-vis important in film-making today or are story boards still good enough?

      • #4465

          Dear Teak

          Digital pre-visualisation is an important technology being applied to film development today. However, story boards remain a common method of visualising the scenes from a script.

          Digital pre-visualisation and story-boarding are typically part of the development and pre-production stages of film-making. Digital Pre-Vis is a computer-generated form of story-boarding and can include a sophisticated animation of a film or television scene.

          Hand drawn story boards continue to be used by many Directors to provide an immediate and inexpensive interaction with cinematography, wardrobe and set designers to conceptualise a written script.

          While many directors continue to rely enthusiastically on hand-drawn story boards to outline and sequence their vision for a scene, Digital Pre-Vis is gaining some traction.

          The application of highly sophisticated computer graphics engines, such as Epic Games’ Unreal Engine and Unity Technologies’ Unity game engine are allowing Directors to interact more fully with conceptualised visions of written text. This includes rapidly exploring camera angles, set positions, times of day (light) and the differences across camera and camera features to optimise both the artistic elements, production budgeting and pre-production scheduling.

          The result is a potential increase in efficiency during principal photography and a corresponding decrease in production costs.

          There is even a form of virtual location scouting that is utilising digitised worlds, both our own and fictional, to identify both scene location and layout.

          Digital Pre-Vis is also being used for presentation of film and television projects in the form of “Pitch Vis” much as story boards (which can be arranged in the form of a graphic novel) are today.

          In addition, the technological evolution of digital pre-visualisation has extended into production. The visualisation capabilities of graphic engines such as Unreal Engine 5 and Unity 2022 allow for photorealistic rendering of vast virtual worlds and a nearly unlimited variety of digital assets. These modern graphics engines provide rendering in real time with interfaces to digital cameras allowing real-time in camera digital effects.

          The result has been the use of high-resolution LED screens arrayed around a physical set allowing digital representation of actual or fictional environments within soundstages in what are referred to as “Volumes”. These Volumes are being successfully demonstrated in many higher budget content productions, most notably Disney’s “The Mandolorian”.

          The expectation is that such production methods may reduce the time and cost of post-production with digital effects rendered in final form during photography.

          The costs of production within the Volume environment remain high compared to most independent film and television production, but these costs are expected to decrease with use and proliferation. In the meantime, physical story boards are likely to remain a highly used traditional means of exploring a Director’s vision for a script.


        • #4601

            Hello Damocles, given all the benefits, what is the blocker for broader adoption? Awareness, Industry, soft funds…?
            Your thoughts?

            • #4608

                Dear Karl.

                Digital Previs itself is a relatively well-established technology application today with an active service provider community in most production markets. The skill-sets and underlying graphics engines are similar to those used in graphic design and animation, which allows both new and existing service providers to expand into this field.

                Outside of the general debate between pen and paper vs keyboard and screen, cost would likely be the primary consideration for any Director’s adoption. In terms of “soft funds”, most production rebate programmes in well-established production markets in the US and the EU would include local expenditure on Digital Previs.

                In terms of adoption generally, the Director’s familiarity with or preference for hand-drawn story boards will likely be weighed against technological proficiency and the over-all effect on total negative costs and production quality.

                The evolving extension of this technology out of development and Pre-Production and into Principal Photography has experienced significant momentum as well as a number of hurdles. The primary hurdle being the construction, maintenance and management of bespoke virtual stage Volumes (and the corresponding costs).

                A number of competing designs, configurations and specifications exist today and most are tailored to relatively large-budget projects with support of the Media Majors.

                However, the limited available capacity within traditional sound stage studio facilities has directed attention to Volumes as an investment opportunity. Investment into more standardised configurations is expected to increase adoption and proliferation across production markets, and perhaps open new production markets in locations lacking adequate soundstage facilities.

                It is this period of investment and adoption that may determine whether virtual stages become a forgotten fad, or the industry standard.

            • #4771

                I am reading more and more about new studios being built in the UK and Australia with this technology. Can’t imagine it being better or cheaper to pack up a whole film crew and actors to go on location when there is one of these virtual stages across town. Sounds like the future.

              • #5119

                  Damocles! You are a star! Excellent explanation.

                  Interesting to watch this space and wondering when we’ll see investor headlines around companies like The Third Floor and Persistence of Vision.

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