Preparing for Battle
April 26, 2011

Preparing for Battle

Battle: Los Angeles previsualized with Nvidia Quadro
Persistence of Vision (POV), a Los Angeles-based visual effects company that helps filmmakers previsualize their projects prior to shooting them for the big screen, recently wreaked computer-generated (CG) havoc on their home turf for Sony Pictures’ Battle: Los Angeles.
POV ( created highly detailed animated storyboards, or previs, for 10 of the most high-impact sequences in the film. Battle: Los Angeles stars Aaron Eckhard (Sgt. Michael Nantz), who leads a marine platoon in a battle against aliens on the streets of L.A.

“The sequences that POV worked on featured dozens more characters than typically appear in previs sequences, a feat they were able to achieve in record time due to the skills of their team and the productivity boost of working with Nvidia Quadro cards,” says Everett Burrell, VFX supervisor on Battle: Los Angeles.
The previs sequences were especially detailed with squadrons of soldiers running in and around buildings. The animation included sound effects, voice-overs, bullet hits, and more. Often, changes to a film’s script are made on the fly, so animated previs shots are required by the production with a same-day turnaround.

For Battle: Los Angeles, POV leveraged the Quadro GPUs on all the artists’ workstations for both the performance gains and reliability. “We’ve standardized on Quadro because they’re the only game in town for professional visual effects,” says David Dozoretz, founder of POV and previs supervisor on Battle: Los Angeles. “They enable the level of interactivity and real-time feedback that we need to move around a scene and quickly build shots in 3D.”

Previs is being used more and more frequently—both as a prototyping device to provide filmmakers, producers, and financiers with an accurate depiction of what their movie will require in terms of budgets, timelines, and materials, and to provide an overall level of production predictability that is hard to derive solely from script and storyboards.

“We couldn't have gotten Battle: Los Angeles green lit without previs,” says Jonathan Liebesman, director of the film. “POV provided us with previsualized sequences that gave me an accurate representation of what the movie would look like very early on in the process. It really helped me achieve my vision.”