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The new frontier in animation

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Gerrard Southam has been at the forefront of the pre-visualisation (pre-vis) area for the last eight years - saving time, money and stress for Hollywood filmmakers. He shared some insights into the emerging field on a recent visit.

Gerrard Southam has been at the forefront of the pre-visualisation (pre-vis) area for the last eight years - saving time, money and stress for Hollywood filmmakers. He shared some insights into the emerging field on a recent visit.

Gerrard got his big break on The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (2005) and has gone on to work on blockbusters including The Hobbit, Alice In Wonderland and G-Force in the pre-vis department.

Pre-vis is a relatively new field of animation that has become a modern essential for filmmakers. By creating rough shots/scenes/trailers, the pre-vis team provide essential feedback that can identify technical issues early on, determine camera angles and map out storylines.

On The Hobbit, Peter Jackon used pre-vis as a quick way to generate ideas. Whereas pre-vis work on the battle scene in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian determined that it would take place over multiple levels and which camera angles would work well (see video).

Another arm to the department is post-vis, where dummy shots are created for the editor while they wait for the final version to be completed.

Gerard told students that pre/post-vis is a generalist role and perfect for animators who are keen to get involved in everything.

“You work really quickly knowing that everything will change- everything is disposable.”

Another valuable application of this kind of work is pitch-vis, where a trailer or scenes are created for a film that does not exist yet. Peter Jackson used this tactic when pitching Lord of the Rings.

“It is much easier to get someone excited about a film if they can see it.

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