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Your Film and the Pre-Production Workflow

Okay. So this particular post is going to be taking me back to my days as a student of illustration both here in Australia and in the U.S. That was about four years ago.

I was taught about the visual process and how it was in fact, ‘a process’ — meaning I couldn’t skip over any part of it for fear of losing marks.

But as a freelance screenwriter and artist now beyond the safety net of university life, I find myself siding with the client who wants maximum bang for their buck, completing certain steps alongside similar ones to streamline the pre-production workflow.

Accordingly, my typical workflow could look something like this:

• Plot outline
• Character breakdowns
• First draft plus rewrites
• Shooting script
• Formatted storyboard
• Timed animatic /w sound
• Finished motion graphic

What this means is that there is a greater margin for error as there are less opportunities to check the work as it moves through towards the final output. And once you start animating, it can be very time consuming to make even the most minor of revisions.

But in principle I always lean towards the whole ‘less is more’ approach — helping clients to save on time and money in the process. So basically I see it as a win-win.

What’s Missing From the Equation?

You may have noticed that I left out style frames as part of mood or colour boards, layout design, and concept art. This is because they tend to be the least flexible aspects of pre-production and have the potential to slow down the development of sequential art unnecessarily.

In almost all cases where you’re trying to illustrate a story, you simply won’t need to indicate every minute detail and clothing fold in a character’s outfit to get the message across. And more to the point you shouldn’t be doing it as a pre-production artist.

Of course these are all things that we can complete alongside the other sequential elements due to the structure of our team and working methods, but I would venture to say their omission would not hinder the end result in any impactful way.

Why am I saying this if I’m in the business of creating all forms of pre-production for clients? Because the needs of the client come first and you need to acutely aware of opportunity cost. I.e. how to minimise the loss derived from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.

When is Production Art Useful?

Ultimately, production art is best saved for when you or your client wish to convince potential backers of the worth of your project. This is the tricky part because you’ll be dealing with people who have the means to make your project a reality but who aren’t yet emotionally invested.

And if we’re being brutally honest, in a pitch, the image comes first. Always. If you have a series of images that lay the story out clearly, your chances will be much more in your favour.

So for filmmakers who are looking to produce the film themselves or find someone else to do it, the benefits of going for a fully developed storyboard will usually outweigh those that would be gained by spending time the same amount of time or even less on production art alone.

That said, any kind of concept art is typically absorbed and communicated by the final output of a storyboard and so there is some overlap, despite the intent and purpose of each process being vastly different.

Determining Your Project Needs

Our aim at Dichosis Studios is to ensure that your project gets the most value out of our pre-production services so that it gets in with the best chance to secure various types of financing.

For example, we may be able to create materials in the form of multiple concepts for a pitch, a motion graphic video for your preferred crowdfunding platform or a complete treatment for meetings with studio executives.

If you’d like to ask us more about how we can help, don’t hesitate to contact us!

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