Photography, Filmmaking, and Design Explorations

Previsualization: Case Study

I was approached by Nick LaBella, a model I had shot earlier in the year, to do some “fall shooting.” Nick was looking for updates to his port along the lines of men’s fashion. Based on Nick’s look, I decided to contact Amber C., another model I had shot previously in the year, who had demonstrated action attitude. She agreed.

I had two models with which to work, both of which had strong looks and willingness to work a scene. Well, now what? I had been wanting to do an “action shoot” for some time and figured: “This is it.” So, I spoke with both models and they agreed to do action shooting in addition to “standard” fall fashion portfolio work—and to bring black “Matrix-like” clothing to the shoot.

Two models. Ready to shoot action. Well, let’s not waste the opportunity through a lack of planning, eh?

I decided to keep the action shooting small and doable. To generate ideas and get a good view of what the final product might be, I knew I’d need to do previsualization (“previz”) so I could think about story. Without story—at least in the flow of images—I’d have nothing. I grabbed my 5-volume set of Vertigo’s The Losers off of my shelf and started to flip through. Most of it wasn’t useful for my purposes, but there were individual shots I really liked. So, I stayed away from storyline and looked strictly at the layout of panels, the positioning of characters in the individual panels, and the use of angle/distance to convey mood and action.

In the end, I scanned in about 12 pages from the whole set and swapped them around, using a page-level cut-up technique, and settled on a flow of six pages, the first and last being “signature” looks, and the four pages in-between conveying a rough flow of action. The key to this process was to find pages and panels that would convey a scene—completely divorced from the characters that appear on those pages and panels.

The final, rough version of the previz, looked like this:

For story, I settled on a confrontation between a courier (with a Haliburton Zero briefcase)—played by Nick—and a contracted assassin who wanted to steal the briefcase—played by Amber.

What I needed for Amber was a gun. I tossed around the idea of having her use a Glock. But it wasn’t enough. Based on Amber’s presence, I needed big, unreal, badass-looking guns.

So . . . . I prepped up the guns and went off to the shoot.

Results from the shoot can be seen below.

NO I didn’t get something as stylish as what I wanted, but I did get lots of practice with linear narrative. And Amber and Nick had fun. So, win-win.

Page 1

Amber & Nick Action Shoot - Comic, Page 1 of 6

Page 2

Amber & Nick Action Shoot - Comic, Page 2 of 6

Page 3

Amber & Nick Action Shoot - Comic, Page 3 of 6

Page 4

Amber & Nick Action Shoot - Comic, Page 4 of 6

Page 5

Amber & Nick Action Shoot - Comic, Page 5 of 6

Page 6

Amber & Nick Action Shoot - Comic, Page 6 of 6

See the full set on Flickr, here.

2 responses

  1. Will, you never cease to amaze me. Always an inspiration for quality lighting, conception and the power to merge the world of photography and cinematography.

    December 4, 2010 at 22:39

    • Thanks, Senthil. Appreciated. It was a lot of fun.

      December 4, 2010 at 22:41

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