Proof Performs Previs for Guardians of the Galaxy

Proof provided previs and postvis services on Disney/Marvel’s smash hit, Guardians of the Galaxy, choreographing and blocking the full CG action.

Ron Frankel, Proof’s founder and creative director, explains, “We enjoyed working closely for the past year and a half with director James Gunn to maintain his vision and make those sequences exciting. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ presented us with numerous big action sequences that have really never been done before. Full CG, high-adrenaline battle sequences that required a lot of choreography and blocking for the staging of the action. James was very good about seeing the action from the audience’s point of view, and doesn’t want viewers to be lost or confused by any of the action.”

Adds previs supervisor Earl Hibbert, “Another of the big challenges we confronted on this film was helping James to bring the characters Rocket and Groot’to life. It was very important to James that the audience forget that these two characters were CG, and, instead, accepts them as real characters –-  characters that actually exist in the world of the film –- because they really are the heart of the movie. As far as technical challenges, there was a lot of green screen involved in production, and most of the sets were built from scratch, so we had to make sure that the action we designed during previs would fit into the sets that were being constructed. I worked very closely with production designer Charlie Wood and visual effects supervisor Stephane Ceretti to make sure the dimensions of our set would closely match the actual build. In this manner, the action we designed during previz could be captured on the set, while still giving James the flexibility to improvise new shots if he wanted to.”

Adds Ceretti, “We started developing the sequences early in prep with James Gunn, Earl Hibbert, and the storyboard artists.  We wanted to be as prepared as possible for a fairly complex and fast paced shoot. Earl and his team did an amazing job at collecting all the information from James, the art department and the VFX department, to come up with previs that really made sense and made a big difference in the way we prepped and shot the movie.  All of the main sequences were previsualized  before we started shooting, which allowed all departments to get a visual sense of the film and what was required to achieve it during the shoot. It was also an essential tool for the VFX vendors.

“Once back in Los Angeles, the previs team transformed into a postvis group, still spearheaded by Earl. We had a huge task ahead of us, with more than 1900 VFX shots to postvis. We could not show the movie without fully post-visualizing our two CG characters, Rocket and Groot, and all the spaceships and aerial effects, as well as adding in backgrounds and set extensions for many of the green screen sets.  A huge effort was put in the collaboration between James, Earl, the editors, and the VFX department to complete a version of the director’s cut that would have all the shots postvised.”

Among the action sequences for which Proof designed the previs:

* The Kyln Escape: For the sequence in which the Guardians come together as a team for the first time, James Gunn really wanted to build character and humor into this sequence. The choreography and visual effects were very complex. Proof provided Gunn and Ceretti with a great deal of data to enable them to work quickly while on set.

* The Space Pod Chase: For this fun ride sequence that features the lead characters in a chase while escaping from the film’s villains, Gunn had very specific action beats he wanted to hit.  Gunn gave the Proof team a good deal of freedom to come up with interesting shots and choreography, while maintaining the overall goals of the action he had in mind. The sequence is fast, vicious, and dangerous.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Below the Line, Movies, previs, Tech, Trailers, VFX, Virtual Production

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