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Structured Destruction The Previs for 2012

The detail of the massive global destruction in 2012 is a reflection of the intense previs work done by Pixomondo for director Roland Emmerich and producers/visual effects supervisors Volker Engel and Marc Weigert.

Press Release from Pixomondo

The detail of the massive global destruction in 2012 is a reflection of the intense previs work done by Pixomondo for director Roland Emmerich and producers/visual effects supervisors Volker Engel and Marc Weigert.

The previs was not only a road map for the technology of the production and post production process in the execution of the huge number of visual effects shots, the previs was equally important as a storytelling tool for the film’s creators.  While the previs served and assisted the filmmakers with the lighting, camera, post pipeline and other technical issues, it gave Roland Emmerich the opportunity to create, revise and layout a detailed blueprint for the images he and his team wanted to see on screen.

2012 previs was almost a seamless process of visualizing the story and the roadmap of how to execute this process.

From May through October 2008, Pixomondo visual effects supervisor Rainer Gombos worked closely with Roland, Volker and Marc producing the previs shots.  Rainer’s team included lead animator Paul Dennis Taylor, visual effects lead Mohsen Mousavi, visual effects producer Steve Kullback, and visual effects executive producer Thilo Kuther.  Work was spread between the Los Angeles, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Berlin facilities of Pixomondo which has offices around the globe.

“In a sense, the sun never sets on Pixomondo”, states Thilo Kuther.  “We are by design operating 24/7 around the world.  In today’s complex global filmmaking community there is really no other way to work to satisfy the needs of our clients.”

Pixomondo had to provide previs that satisfied Sony’s desire to keep it simple while providing as many possible options to enhance the process for the filmmakers.  Almost everything had particles for water, ice, fire and snow, motion capture, modeling or other tools to help define the shots. As the previs developed and matured in its capabilities so did the confidence with it.  In some cases Pixomondo was creating shots when storyboards did not exist.

The communication and trust between Roland, Volker, Marc and Pixomondo permitted them to develop a pipeline of previs that often reflected final shots almost 1 to 1.  This is a huge benefit for an effects driven film like 2012 with over 1300 shots.

Pixomondo’s previs focused on the big action sequences which required the most complex work.  The ability to design and resolve these shots in detail in advance was a huge advantage to both the creativity and cost of producing global destruction on such a massive scale.  Pixomondo also contributed over 100 finished shots for the airplane and cars sequence.

“It was some of the most organized and creative destruction ever on film.  It was great fun”, said visual effects supervisor Rainer Gombos.

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