June 6, 2018

Architectural Visualization in Film and Television

Archviz

Matthew Naj

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Architectural Visualization in Film and Television

A film or television project goes through three specific stages before it hits the big and small screens: pre-production, filming, and post-production. Filming and post-production are the easier of the three to understand: filming is self-explanatory since this is the biggest part of the process that makes it to screens, and post-production is the ordering of and organization of the raw material of filming through editing, while also being the time in which special effects are implemented. Pre-production is usually the most important aspect of any given project since much of the work done here is crucial to making sure that the project can feasibly move forward.

A useful technique that is used at this stage comes from the world of architecture. It’s called Architectural Visualization, or Archviz for short. This is a technique that is used in all aspects of pre-production. In essence, Archviz is about visualizing and building your production from the ground up. Architects use this method to design a building to specific specs that will keep within a certain budget as well as meet all of the specifications of the client. Pre-production on a film or television show follows the same idea: for the creative team to produce the project that they want that also stays within the budget of either a studio or specific producers and executive producers.

Archviz is used literally to build sets or find appropriate locations that suit the project. From there the director and cinematographer must come up with ways of shooting specific scenes in these locations. To achieve this, they will use many methods of visualization, including detailed storyboards, 3D renderings, and rehearsals with actors and camera operators. By doing this the project has the best chance of going forward smoothly once filming begins.

Archviz can also be used for specific parts of filming. The scenario where can be put to use is often while planning scenes of action. Many filmmakers and critics agree that the most important part of an action scene is geography, basically where each person is in the scene and how they view the other. Many movies, especially home invasion thrillers, and particularly haunted house films, have an early sequence that shows the audience the location in detail. The most famous, and groundbreaking example of this comes from director David Fincher’s 2002 thriller Panic Room. Since the film takes place in a New York apartment, Fincher chose to film the interior as a seamless shot that passes through each room, often through sold walls, to introduce the arena where all of the action would take place. To create this stunning sequence, Fincher and his creative team used architectural visualization to figure out how this sequence could be achieved. Using this technique that team realized that a combination of practical camera angles, which took nine days to complete, combined with state of the art visual effects, which Fincher first used in Fight Club, was used to stitch the sequence together.

Next time you watch a film or TV show, look at a scene of your choice, mark all of the different aspects that bring it together, and you will better understand the importance of architectural visualization.

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