Previz Supervisor

  • Previz Supervisor

Previsualization is a process used in feature filmmaking and television production to plan out complex visual effects sequences during the pre-production phase; this enables the director and cinematographer to see rough animatics of their shots in a fast and inexpensive manner before committing time, crew, and resources to filming.


Duties

The previz supervisor is a member of the visual effects team and responsible for overseeing the production of previsualization animatics. Leading a team of artists specializing in the craft, he or she collaborates closely with the director and visual effects supervisor to break down the script and determine the sequence of shots necessary to portray the written scene. In some cases, animatics will begin as storyboards created by the director or other senior designer on the project. The supervisor will then communicate to the rest of the previz team their specific tasks, which include environment modeling, character modeling, and animation.

Previz animatics are rough animations that are intended only to illustrate camera angles and other technical aspects of a scene; they will not be used in the final edit. Instead, animatics serve as motion storyboards that communicate the director’s vision and inspire the technical crew during principal photography. The supervisor will guide the artists on his or her team to accurately portray the constraints of the environment, character blocking, and virtual camera angles. It is his or her responsibility to see to it that the animatics are delivered on schedule and to the specifications of the director.

Skills & Education

A strong background in computer animation and visual effects design is necessary for a career as a previz supervisor. A college degree in computer animation or related field is recommended, as it provides a thorough understanding of the artistic techniques, as well as the technical mastery of industry standard software. Additionally, courses in cinematography and video editing are valuable in providing an appreciation for the technical constraints of live-action filming. Artistically, this position demands an individual that understands the natural and fluid movement of animation; the constructs of lifelike lighting conditions; and proper aesthetic framing of images.

What to Expect

A previz supervisor must first establish proven skill in an entry-level role within a visual effects studio; such careers include compositing, match moving, animation, lighting, and character modeling. With professional experience and proven talent, an artist may seek advancement to the lead artist level and then as a supervisor. While closely related to feature animation or visual effects, previsualization adheres to its own conventions of style and process. Because animatics should be short and require less time and resources to produce, previz works under much tighter deadlines. Depending on the project volume of the studio, the previz supervisor may oversee more than one project at a time and have a high rate of annual turnover. This role is typically a fulltime position. Employment opportunities exist within visual effects studios, as well as agencies that specialize in media marketing and short-format production.

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