An Exploration of Prometheus Previs
Setting the mood meant spending a little more time on each shot. In many other productions, we would get it working and then move on. This production, we got it working and then we made it a little bit nicer, added some depth of field looks, kept improving the animation until the shot was not just good enough but quite good. Certainly not final, but we were given an extra pass on each shot to just make it a little better, get rid of some of the clunky rough animations, maybe some rough poses, maybe some poor lighting in order to set those moods.
DS: Your previs work, how did the visual effects people use it? Did they use your work directly or start completely from scratch using your work as reference?
CR: They could have used some of our shots and our cameras to inform some of their cameras. I’ve done a lot of that before. In this case, they used the people they had in London to reframe what we had done under Ridley’s guidance. And they recreated it for the shoot. So once they had it for the shoot, they actually came back to us and we did a postvis pass. We took their plates, in some cases it was some of the shots that we had designed in previs, and then we started comping in rough visual effects, at least place holders for the visual effects based on the exact plates which had been informed reference-wise by the previs. There were a number of other sequences where we did postvis that we didn’t do previs on that were just to help visualize visual effects that were coming from the visual effects house.
DS: So the four sequences you did previs for, that work was separate from the postvis work you did?
CR: It was. I supervised the previs work and by the time the postvis came along I was on another show. Our company has a really good postvis supervisor, Michael Jackson, who is very good at just focusing on the 3D tracking, getting that work done really sharply. So I had him spearhead the postvis work. I did oversee it, but only just to help bridge the gap between the people I was familiar with from the production and handing them off to our postvis supervisor. Then I kept track of it so I made sure it was what we wanted to deliver. He did an amazing job for us so I didn’t have to watch that closely.
DS: So you guys were involved through the entire production in one way or another?
CR: We were involved for a long time. We had a gap while they shot the film. Once they shot the film they did came back and we were involved for another two or three months doing the postvis work until they finally had to hand it all off for final visual effects.
DS: What were some of the tools that you guys used to do the previs work? I assume you have an asset library at your disposal. How many assets did you have to create from scratch?
CR: We do have a library and we used some of those assets. There were some things that they needed built from scratch, so we built some things from scratch. But, they also had the art department working ahead of us and we would get some of the more important, highly designed elements, like the big space chair or the room where the engineers were waking up. We received those assets from the art department. But because they design in high res, and we need to stay as light and nimble as possible in order to have everything in the shot because we don’t do a lot of comping, we would revise those assets so that they were light and quick but still looked like and represented what they had designed.
DS: You had to slim them down?