David Dozoretz — a designer, digital artist and animator — who heads up a pre-visualization/effects team at JAK films, is a Mac and QuickTime fan. He and his crew at JAK are deploying a new force for pre-planning visual effects sequences in films. This method is pre-visualization, and the prophecies are written on Macs, as explained in an
Apple Hot News story.
Dozoretz is a man who certainly knows what he’s talking about. He worked as a digital artist on the “Return of the Jedi” re-release and as an animatic artist for the original “Mission Impossible” film. He was also an assistant art director on several other films such as “Forrest Gump,” “Jumanji,” “Congo” and “Star Trek Generations.”
“The major advantage of pre-visualization is that it allows the filmmakers to direct the movie before we direct the movie,” Dozoretz told Apple. ” This way, we can experiment and make mistakes with a small crew spending a little money, rather than hiring a huge crew and spending a thousand dollars a minute to be on a set.”
Pre-visualization — storyboarding sketches and rough animation of its special effects sequences — was used, for instance, for the famous pod race from “Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace.”
“We used lots of mixed media for the animatic,” Dozoretz said. “Some storyboards, foam core characters, hand puppets, etc. The four of us worked on piecing it together with the editors, Martin Smith and Ben Burtt, counting through the sequences that would soon be delivered to Industrial Light & Magic, so they could go forward and make it look perfect.” “We did all of that design work using Electric Image on Macs, with After Effects, then rendered out to QuickTime and dumped to an Avid, where the editor of the film cut the sequence together.”
No one could really visualize what was in George Lucas’ mind with regard to the pod race, and with something as dynamic as this scene, one or two panels in a storyboard wouldn’t tell you much, Dozoretz said. They were trying to figure out how fast the pods should go, how they would move, and what the actions should be.
“When doing pre-visualization, we’re not worried about making it look beautiful, we’re just worried about getting the story told,” Dozoretz said. “So, as computer animators, we’ve got an unusual task of not trying to be visual effects artists, but trying to be storytellers.”
There were 2,000 special effects shots in the movie, and Dozoretz’s team did between four and six versions of each. That translates into between 8,000 and 10,000 QuickTime movies done on Macs over a three-year period for the ‘Star Wars: Episode 1’ movie — all done by a team of just four guys. And with a demand for pre-visualization steadily increasing, Dozoretz formed his own pre-visualization company, Persistence of Vision Digital Entertainment (POV), to handle the workload.
For more on Dozoretz’s work, you can read our
Oct. 11, 2000, story about Dozoretz’s keynote comments at QuickTime Live!