What Is Previsualization and Why Is it Important?

The great film director Jean-Luc Godard said, “There is no point in having sharp images when you’ve fuzzy ideas.” Now that speaks volumes about how hindering a director’s vacillation could be for a film.

Art directors are the propellers of a movie, and communicating their vision is paramount to creating a film that wins out the day.

This is where previsualization comes in. It is an exemplary way for directors to have control over their pictures and determine what the movie would look like when it comes to fruition.

Previsualization only surfaced in the mid-1990s, even then it has been positioned as a vital cog in the filmmaking industry.


So, what is previs?

In a nutshell, previs is the process of devising a film’s visual battle plan that addresses the director’s intent. It is a film sequence distilled into an array of images along with the relevant detail that helps the video production team to gather intel on a particular scene.

Pre-visualization helps everyone involved in the production of the movie to have a shared vision and a firm grip on complex sequences prior to starting production.

If you have produced a movie before, then you probably are aware that how a movie unfolds is rarely how you imagined it in your head. But doing your homework in the form of a previs brings you one step closer to achieving what you initially set out to and combat problems that you may come face to face with once you start shooting.

The filmmakers of today that you see bagging Oscars and Grammys all spend a fair share of their time dabbling in previsualization.

Below are some examples of Previs from your favorite movies:

Previsualization - Motioncue

Previsualization - Motioncue

Why do you need previs?

If you’re still wondering whether or not previsualization is worth your time, then read on below for its top benefits to develop a deeper understanding of why you need it:


1.     Refined thoughts

Previsualization goes a long way in condensing your broad vision and blending your multiple ideas into a cohesive vision. By experimenting with various illustrations, testing out different camera angles and refining your script, you bring your initial thoughts to perfection. They further reflect positively on how your screenplay pans out into a movie.

Read more: How to Write an Excellent Video Script


2.     Coherent vision

Movies typically involve thousands of people who work round the clock to bring the script to fruition. This makes it essential for the director to convey his thoughts to all those people so that everyone is on the same page.

However, remember, no matter how much of a clear vision you may have in your head, in the world of creatives, you can’t always rely on words to communicate it to other people.

A previs equips you with the efficiency to bridge that gap and lock your ideas in the minds of your team.

A detailed previs will guide your crew through each step they take and provide them with the chances to clarify any doubts they might have.

When the team knows how a specific shot is supposed to look like, they will plan it out more effectively.


3.     Cost and time effective

On a film set, pesky predicaments such as having to stay on location overtime due to an ill-conceived plan for a shot can result in hundreds or thousands of wasted dollars. Time should be treated like the priceless commodity it is on a film set because even the slightest forms of mismanagement can hamper progress and inflate the cost.

To create a movie, it is vital to sync a lot of important tiny details and work them in harmony. Previsualization helps you do just that. By thoroughly planning out every other shot, you will utilize your time and money more resourcefully.

Imagine if you were producing an animated movie and halfway through you realize you need some changes at the beginning, all of your efforts would go in vain because you’d have to start over. Previsualization saves you from encountering such uncomfortable scenarios.

One thing we want to mention here is that, even though previsualization itself would add extra time to your overall venture, that amount of time would not translate so heavily into money.


4.     Streamlined production

Since previsualization helps you work on your movie from the ground up, it acts as a vital foundation for its production. Reflecting upon the thumbnails of images that contain information about every shot, a member of the production team can easily wrap his head around what is expected of him.

You will steer clear of missing out on any shots or important details even if you forget because you will have the previs guiding you through the way.

In addition to getting the shots right, once you devise a realistic timescale, you and your team can stick to it and be on schedule.


5.     Effective storytelling

Previsualization allows directors to integrate the story perfectly with the visuals. It gives them the opportunity to see whether the story makes sense in a particular setting or not. If not, they always have time to make the tweaks without jeopardizing the budget.

It’s no wonder that directors, animation artists and graphic designers all use previs to determine how their vision will evolve into a movie.

Read more: How to Start a Career in Animation – A Guide


6.     Prioritized tasks

Usually, in movie production, there are some scenes that have to be shot first due to various factors such as logistics, etc. Having a previs will help you ensure that you take care of the important details first before moving on the next.


Wrapping up

Film production can be a bumpy ride, but previsualization helps you pave the way and can allow you to envision success before you even get started.

Importance of previsualization - Motioncue

Posted by MotionCue

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