If you’re like 99 percent of producers, you think of pre-visualization as a way to hash out complex VFX shots. And you assume that you must be fluent in one of several 3D programs to previsualize anything. But pre-vis is positioned to become a lot more accessible to the filmmaker with the appearance at Siggraph 2004 of software aimed at the non-specialist user. Directors, producers, cinematographers, visual effects supervisors and editors are just some of the users who will find these software packages from Kelseus and RealViz of interest, even for practical shoots.
Antics Pre-Viz from UK-based Kelseus is a real-time 3D environment where characters interact intelligently with props and sets. Antics Pre-Viz allows expert animators or more casual users to produce scenes with several cameras, multiple characters, storylines, shots, and interactions. Antics offers an easy path for set design, camera set-up, lens selection, and the creation of intelligent characters, shots and scenes. The system doesn’t rely on keyframing or rendering, but draws instead from libraries of animation assets. Scenes are stored as animated storyboards which can be cut together and output as either AVI or MOV files or as JPEG storyboards. Kelseus Antics Pre-Viz, which runs in a Windows environment (and will soon be ported to Mac and then Linux), ships in late October for an introductory rate of $995 (in January 2005, the price jumps to $1225).
Like Antics, StoryViz, from the French company RealViz, is aimed at directors, visual effects supervisors, graphic artists and filmmakers at all levels. Developed by Paris -based post/VFX facility Duran Duboi Studio, the program has been used on several feature films. StoryViz links storyboards and production by simulating the shooting phase and pre-editing the final shots in high-res real-time 3D. Users create scenes by importing elements from Maya, 3ds max or RealViz ImageModeler or by using the built-in library of 3D models. Characters can be animated using the software’s posing tool or by importing existing animation. Users can compose the sequence with StoryViz’s nonlinear editing tools, add comments and paint the drawings, preview it in real time and export to HTML or AVI. At press time, the shipping date and price for RealViz StoryViz for Microsoft 2000/XP had not been announced.