The Third Floor Previsualizes Summer Tentpoles

The Third Floor has been instrumental in providing previs and postvis for Godzilla, The Amazing Spider-Man 2,  X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Maleficent.

The Third Floor created pitchvis, previs and postvis for Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla working with the production on location in Vancouver, during the pre-greenlight phase and in post. Eric Carney supervised The Third Floor’s previs team, with Scott Hankel overseeing postvis.

Early in the process, The Third Floor collaborated on pitchvis materials around the “Hawaii” sequence for the final presentation to the studio. Creative previs for the film was focused across seven sequences, totaling about 40 minutes of material, including Godzilla’s arrival, Alcatraz attack, Halo jump, Muto fights, and especially the final battle, which was prevised end to end, totaling about 24 minutes.

The Third Floor collaborated closely with director Edwards to ensure his vision reached the screen. He would review the previs frequently, giving notes and exchanging input with the previs team. The Third Floor also interfaced with VFX supervisor Jim Rygiel, the design team, storyboard artists and editorial team.

In addition to providing blueprints to support the production through filming and VFX planning, a main goal for previs was helping the filmmakers lay out the finale sequence between Godzilla and the Muto creatures. The broad strokes of the script were fleshed out in previs, first using storyboard frames cut together with title cards and animal fight footage, and moving into previs blocking and choreography.

A key element of the previs was working with the director to determine fight styles for Godzilla and the Mutos. Edwards had a very specific idea that the creatures should fight and behave like big animals, not like cartoon characters. The previs team studied fight footage of bears and other animals, experimenting to find what the director thought worked best. He was very hands on in reviewing the different variations and guiding the work to find something that was both realistic and cinematic, sometimes even acting out for the previs team what he wanted the creatures to do. A virtual camera setup was used at times to explore camera framing, and mocap suits were deployed throughout the previs process to add realism to the animation.

Patrick Smith oversaw The Third Floor team in collaborating with director Marc Webb, visual effects supervisor Jerome Chen, and editor Pietro Scalia to provide previs and postvis on The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Creative previs, including six months on location in New York, was done for scenes such as the Power Plant, Times Square, fight with Rhino, and montage of Spider-Man’s swinging through the city.

Previs was chiefly used to lock down the major action beats for VFX-heavy sequences, develop exciting sequences, and find ways of keeping the camera work and action as true to real life as possible so the previsualized shots could actually be filmed. Webb would sometimes verbally pitch the sequence if no boards existed, listing the key shots he wanted for The Third Floor’s artists and then reviewing and tightening the previs with them from there.

In addition, working on site with the production and in post production in Culver City, the postvis team delivered close to 1,000 shots.

The Third Floor contributed creative previs for X-Men: Days of Future Past as well as postvis and techvis for editorial and VFX. Work was done during production in Montreal, where The Third Floor’s has satellite offices, and was also completed in Los Angeles and onsite at Fox.

Across the project, The Third Floor worked with director Bryan Singer, as well as second unit director Brian Smrz, visual effects supervisor Richard Stammers, and second unit visual effects supervisor Matt Sloan. The principal use of previs was to support the director in visualizing his sequences before shooting. Previs also provided an effective guide for the second shooting unit as they independently filmed their shots.

Austin Bonang at The Third Floor supervised previs across several major sequences: the opening Moscow Attack, Monastery Discovery, Quicksilver’s Pentagon Breakout, featuring some great slow-motion effects, Mystique’s escape, the Cargo Train, and large inter-cut Washington DC Attack and Monastery Sentinel Attack scenes.

Particularly in the climax of the film, previs helped with dramatic ways to use and emphasize the movie’s multiple time periods. Mocap was regularly incorporated to turnaround quick and realistic previs, and a virtual camera volume, operated by The Third Floor’s virtual production head Casey Shatz, allowed shots to be explored before going to set. This method was heavily used during the attack scenes as Smrz and first and second unit cinematographers prepped for these scenes.

Teams from The Third Floor in London and Los Angeles provided previs, techvis, and postvis for Robert Stromberg’s Maleficent. Artists worked on site during production at Pinewood Studios, at The Third Floor’s dedicated UK studio in Soho and from The Third Floor’s office in Hollywood, interfacing with Stromberg and key collaborators across the process to help visualize the look, story, and action for key set pieces and battle scenes.

The Third Floor had previously worked with Stromberg as well as VFX supervisor Carey Villegas on Alice in Wonderland (for which Stromberg earned his second production design Oscar). He was very specific on what he needed for each shot. To help with this look, the previs team would in some cases directly project the matte paintings from production designer Dylan Cole or from the director himself into the 3-D previs environments. This allowed both a polished look and a close representation to what the final shots would look like.

A first goal for The Third Floor’s team, headed up by previs/postvis supervisor Mark Nelson, was to enable the director to try out different things and plan sequences before he shot them. A second main purpose was assisting Villegas and the visual effects team by giving them an idea of what the VFX shots would consist of so they could effectively plan the coverage and shots.

The movie’s opening and final battles were extensively previsualized. Previs was also done to support execution on set for specific motion control VFX shots.

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

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