< Technicolor Pre-Production

Q&A with Patrick Smith, Head of Visualization

Q - How has the industry evolved and what do you see as the biggest opportunities today?

A - For a long time, the movie making timeline has been rigidly linear. But, with advances such as we have made in visualization it has become far more organic in nature.

Before, previz involved very basic blocking and camera moves. With today’s visualization, you can map out exactly how to achieve in the real world what you’ve created on the screen. It’s gone from an informative add-on to an intrinsic part of the production process.

In visualization you have creative freedom of expression. It’s a time when directors get to collaborate with us to brainstorm.


Q - What are the challenges?

A - One of the challenges for directors and cinematographers is keeping up to date with technologies that have advanced so quickly over recent years. To help directors, cinematographers and the comfort level of others on-set with these new technologies, we use similar hardware and the same terminology and verbiage that they already use.

Those new to this way of working are not always fully aware of how we can help, and we sometimes get seen as an extension of VFX. In reality, we are fellow creatives who can help filmmakers take their stories to the next level. We are more the hub of the overall creative process than an extension of VFX.


Q - You are heading the Visualization department within Technicolor’s new Pre-Production studio. How does visualization help storytellers bring their visions to life?

A - The scalability of visualization is key to helping storytellers bring their visions to life. Accessibility and portability are huge. Today, you don’t need to be on a sound stage to harness the power of visualization. For example, we can put together a commando crew and send them to wherever the director is. We can meet them, even just in a small room, and collaborate and ideate with them around how best to achieve their vision – and in just a few days they’ll see it come to life.

Visualization should be viewed as the director’s paint brush. It’s through the process of visualization that directors can visually explore and design their characters and breathe life into their story. It’s a sandbox where they can experiment, play and perfect their vision before the pressure of being on set.


Q - How does the way Technicolor does visualization differ from others in the industry, or the ways it has been done in the past, and how will this benefit storytellers?

A - At Technicolor, we have a tradition of pioneering and moving our industry forward. By bringing together the specialisms that comprise our Pre-Production studio under one roof, we have set ourselves apart by becoming the first ‘start to finish’ pre-production house. You can walk into our Pre-Production studio to refine and visually perfect your vision through the talented artists we have in our art department and can stay with us right through visualization, virtual production, production and on into visual effects to bring that vision to life.

Visualization used to involve deciding roughly what you plan to do on set. Today, you can plan out precisely how to achieve your vision on set down to the inch - from the exact camera lens to use, to exactly how much dolly track you’ll need, to precisely where to place your actors. Working with Technicolor through the visualization process is about defining your vision so clearly that it will carry right through to the final cut.


Q - What are the risks or consequences for storytellers of not embracing the power that these new ways of doing visualization offer?

A - The obvious risk of not embracing the power of doing things this way is that you are reinforcing the inefficient divorce between pre-vis and the finals house.

Bringing visualization and the other areas of pre-production together under one roof removes redundancy from the filmmaking process which, in turn, reduces stress on the storyteller by removing latency to allow them as much time as possible to focus on telling their story.

Until now, the process of pre-production has been a divided and inefficient process involving different vendors and repeated steps. Bringing those worlds together and making it a seamless, start to finish process is a game changer.


Q - As head of Visualization within Technicolor’s new Pre-Production studio, what are you most excited about for the future of storytelling?

A - We’re living at an exciting time in the industry. Never in the history of the world has the accessibility of information been greater than it is today. Everyone and their brother are walking around with a video camera in their pocket and they’ve got a story to tell. If you can tell a joke, you can tell a story. And, if that is your passion, you should bring that to life. We can help you do that. We can give birth to those ideas.

I'm the most excited when I get to sit down and work with creators and just brainstorm ideas and collaborate with my team to say ‘hey, what would be the best possible way to tell this story?’ and to figure that out and sculpt it. Exploring new ways to creatively sculpt something from a loose idea or concept. That's my passion, and to me it’s so exciting that we're living in a world of such creative abundance and exciting storytelling possibilities.