An Exploration of Prometheus Previs
Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s long anticipated Alien prequel, brought him back to the world of sci-fi after three decades. The film represented several firsts for the director: it was his first foray into stereoscopic 3-D as well as his first use of CG previs. Halon previs supervisor Clint Reagan and his team worked right alongside the famed director as he experienced firsthand the power of previs, helping shape the mood, the flow, the action and feasibility of a number of key sequences. We recently talked with Clint about the project, including previs objectives, process, tools and the dynamics of working with the legendary director.
Dan Sarto: Tell us a bit about your work on Prometheus. When did you get involved and what was the scope of your involvement?
Clint Reagan: I started as the previs supervisor here in Los Angeles at Ridley Scott’s offices. He had an art department that had already been working. Often, that’s not been the case on shows that I’ve been involved with. They had a lot of art work they had started. I started off supervising a scene where they hadn’t done any design yet except for one of the ships. I started right out on the opening of the movie where the ship approaches the planet. We did that scene first. We quickly ramped up to five artists. There were several that had worked with me before that I wanted with me on this project. I needed really solid people [to put] in front of Ridley.
One of the interesting things about this show was they didn’t want to do simultaneous sequences. So I supervised the first sequence until they were happy and then started the next sequence from scratch. That was different. Usually I’m spearheading several all at the same time. But they really wanted to focus on the mood and just stay focused on one sequence at a time.
DS: Was that type of single sequence focus unique to Ridley Scott, the way he approached the initial previs on the film?
CR: Yes. This was the first time he’d really dealt with previs that I am aware of and I was told several times, you better knock this out of the park because he’s never touched previs before on his own and so it’s all riding on you.
DS: That’s nice to know. No pressure here!
CR: Oh, yeah, going in, of course!
DS: I would imagine, the filmmaker that he is, he took to it pretty quickly?
CR: He did, he jumped right into it. Within the first session he really started to understand what we were doing and then use us as a tool, which is what we wanted. He adapted really quick.
DS: So how long were you on the show?
CR: Well, doing one sequence at a time, we started on the first sequence, took that through to end of November  and then in December, we were already onto a second sequence. They were going to stop there. They had previs also being worked on for the crash landing sequence by another group in London, but I wasn’t involved with that sequence at all. But I was really glad to hear that they liked what I was giving them so much, they sent us several other sequences to work on. And so from start to end, I believe I was on it for a total of five months. April 2011, we finished our fourth sequence.