172 Previsualiztion and Preproduction for Film

Previsualiztion and Preproduction for Film

a.k.a “Written, Produced, and Directed by…”

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Fall 2012

ART/FLM/THR 172 – 3 credits

CRNS:  74010/ 75425/ 76322

  1. A.  Instructor:

Maya Salganek, Assistant Professor

Office Location: 105B Fine Arts/Theatre

Office Phone: (907) 474-5950

Office Hours: T/R 11:30-12:30 & M/W 3:30 -5PM appointments available at: http://tinyurl.com/mayaFall2012

Or by appointment , check my Google Calendar: https://sites.google.com/a/alaska.edu/salganek

Email: maya@alaska.edu

  1. B.  Required Reading & Equipment
  • · Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field ISBN: 0385339038
  • · The Complete Film Production Handbook-  4 Edition by Eve Light Honthaner ISBN 9780240811505
  • Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing from concept to screen by Steven D. Katz. Michael Wise Productions publishers. ISBN: 13 978-0-941188-10-4 On reserve at the library.
  • Any additional readings or films are on reserve at the Rasmuson Library for 2 hour check out or will be posted to Blackboard
  • External hard drive I highly recommend that all video production students purchase their own external hard drive – at least 200GB (500GB recommended) for storing your video projects.  The drive can be formatted for Mac or Mac and PC (using FAT32 format), according to your preference.  All video projects stored on the department’s computers will be deleted by May 15, 2012.
  • Writing Journal – In class exercises should be done in writing journal. May be electronic if so desired.
  1. C.  Suggested Reading and Resources:
  •  “Making Short Films” by Clifford Thurlow ISBN: 1845200632
  • Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee  ISBN: 978-0060391683
  • Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joeseph Campbell.
  • http://www.frameforge3d.com/kb/  Knowledgebase for FrameForge software
  • http://www.simplyscripts.com Thousands of screenplays online for free
  1. D.  Course description:
    Laying a foundation for cinema production, this course will explore screenwriting, storyboarding, previsulization animation, animatics, and film pre-production approaches. This course will focus on developing original stories for animation or dramatic film productions.

What is Previs?

“Previs is a collaborative process that generates preliminary versions of shots or sequences, predominantly using 3D animation tools and a virtual environment. It enables filmmakers to visually explore creative ideas, plan technical solutions, and communicate a shared vision for efficient production.”

-Definition formulated by the ASC-ADG-VES Joint Technology Subcommittee on Previsualization, 2009.

  1. E.  Goals:
  • ·         Students will learn to write visually for film/television/animation.
  • ·         Students will evolve their approach to filmmaking through storyboarding, shot composition, and visual design. 
  • ·         Students will produce animatics and animated storyboards to express their cinematic ideas.
  • Students will be prepared to produce an original film using their ideas developed in this course.
  1. F.  Student Learning Outcomes:
  • ·         Students will write an original screenplay and realize it through storyboarding and animatics with a firm grasp of preproduction requirements.
  • ·          Students will understand setting up shots and scenes to match their vision of the film.
  • ·         Students will be prepared to launch production of an original film project.
  1. G.  Instructional methods:
    The class will meet for lecture and “hands-on” demonstration and practice of various techniques and exercises.
  1. H.  Course policies:
    1. 1.    Attendance:

       Attendance is mandatory.  Students begin will 100 points for attendance worth 10% of final grade. 5 min late = -1 pt; +5 min late = -2 pts; absence= -3pts.  Class participation and preparation is essential for this course.  Your classmates are counting on you!

Take responsibility for getting assignments or handouts from classmates.  If you miss class for any reason, it’s your responsibility to arrange for a classmate to collect copies of any handouts, or to provide you with information on any assignments, activities, lecture materials, or dates changed. Studies have shown that students who attend class regularly and participate fully, find assignments and exams much easier and more meaningful, and (surprise!) tend to get better grades than those who do not attend class regularly.

Be in class to earn a grade for an in-class activity or exercise. Students will be responsible for presenting and critiquing video material in class, should you miss this portion, you will take a zero for the day. In-class activities and exercises may not be made up at a later date.  Missed in-class assignments will need to be performed on your own time, and will be expected in your writing journal. In rare instances, students may have to miss class for a valid, university-sanctioned reason (In general, an absence is considered “official” when the student is: (A) participating in an approved field trip or other official UAF activity [e.g., athletics, music, theater arts]; (B) confirmed under doctor’s orders; or (C) granted a leave of absence from UAF for reasonable cause by an academic dean or director).  Except for medical emergencies, which require documentation, absences must be approved by the instructor prior to the class session that will be missed.  Alternate assignments to make up for any in-class points will be given only for instructor-approved absences.

  1. 2.  Blackboard/Assignments:
      • The “Course Information” folder includes a copy of this syllabus, research materials, software links, and instructor contact information, and instructional videos.
      • Assignments are posted in the Assignments folder, and organized by Week.  You are responsible for all the assignments listed there. This syllabus is just an outline for class assignments and developments.
  1. 3.  Cell Phones:

       Cell Phones are helpful tools in film production, but should your cell phone ring during a shoot you will be asked to leave for the day and will receive zero points. If it happened on a working set, you would be fired! Texting is prohibited during class.

  1. 4.  Equipment:

Film Students have access to check out equipment from the equipment checkout located in Bunnell 101A (Journalism department). Checkout hours TBD. You can look at available equipment at http://lend-items.com .  Login with your Facebook account.

  1. 5.  Editing Labs:

The Alaska Media Center computer lab (Music 305) has 20 imacs or MacPros loaded with Final Cut Pro 7 (Studio 3), Premiere CS6, and Avid Media Composer 6 for you to use. The labs also feature Celtx screenwriting software, and FrameForge Previz software for storyboarding and animatics. You will need your polar express card to access the lab. Each entrance to the Lab is recorded, so should there be a problem we know who was in the lab when.  Please sign-in and out when you use the computers (so I know how often you were really there editing).

  1. I.    Evaluation of Work & Grades
    1. 1.    Values

All work will be evaluated using a +/- grading system. You must earn a “C” or higher for this course to count towards a film major/minor degree.

A+ = 4.0 100-97%

A = 4.0     96-93%

A- = 3.7    92-90%

B+ = 3.3   89-87%

B = 3.0     86-83%

B- = 2.7    82-80%

C+ = 2.3   79-77%

C = 2.0     76-73%

C- = 1.7      72-70%

D+ = 1.3     69-67%

D = 1.0       66-63%

D- = 0.7    62-60%

Value of Assigned Work toward Final Grade:
Attendance/participation & discussion       10 %
Written assignments …………………………………………………… 30 %
Production Assignments……………………………………… 40 %

Final Projects…………………………………………………………………………………… 20 %

Total………………………………………………………………………………… 100%

  1. 2.  Grading Written and Production Assignments:

The ability to communicate ideas clearly is the cornerstone of a great filmmaker.  To demonstrate your vision, you should plan to organize your ideas clearly, use correct grammar, spell words and names correctly, and demonstrate that you’ve thoroughly conceptualized and edited your work.  Effort put in to the pre-production will make up for problems during production and post.

All production assignments should be turned in with accompanying production material. Screenplays, storyboards, production schedules, contact sheets, etc.

It’s not “cheating” to ask for opinions and editing skills of others.  Instead, the discussion is positive and can bring new insights to your work. The Writing Center (http://www.alaska.edu/english/studentresources/writing/) is available for students to develop their writing skills. Please visit or contact them for assistance, Gruening 801 or    474-5314.  For assistance with video production, please consult me, or your production team members.


  • Writing journal/ in-class writings
  • film reviews and film director papers
  •  play critique from a directorial standpoint
  • directorial concept paper/ directors’ notes
  • screenplays


  • storyboards
  • animatics
  • an illustrated script or prompt book including analysis of script, scenes, characters
  • designs, renderings, etc.
  1. 3.  Late Papers/Assignments

ALL ASSIGNMENTS (written or performed) WILL BE SUBMITTED ON TIME OR BE PENALIZED 5% FOR EACH LATE DAY. All written assignments, unless otherwise noted, are to be typed double-spaced and attached to assignments on blackboard.    

  1. J.   Film Club:  Students are encouraged to participate in the UAF Student Film Club. Meetings take place the every Thursday from 1:05-1:55 in the Theatre Green Room.
  1. K.  Disability Services:  The Office of Disability Services implements the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and insures that UAF students have equal access to the campus and course materials. I will work with the Office of Disabilities Services (203 WHIT, 474-7043) to provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities. Please notify me immediately if you need special assistance in this class.

Course calendar:  Tentative schedule. Readings should be completed by the date assigned. All assignments should be reviewed on blackboard where explicit instructions and resource materials will be posted.  Items marked with an * are available on Reserve at the Rasmuson Library. All items marked with a † are available via Blackboard to download/print/ and read.


Week Tuesday Thursday
Week 1WELCOMEAugust 30   Overview of syllabus. Intro to Screenwriting.Reading Assignment: c   Making Short Films Chapter 1 -The Script †c   Screenplay by Syd Field, Chapters 1-5VIEW: Sikumi by Andrew MacLean
Week 2Character is action9/4 & 9/6 Motifs, Heroes, and Enduring TruthsHave Read: c   Making Short Films Chapter 1 -The Script †c   Screenplay by Syd Field, Chapters 1-5IN-CLASS Writing Exercise:

  • Entering the world of the film
Adapt” Writing images, showing action.Have Read:c    The Laramie Project – Stage play†*c   Screenplay: Chapters 13 & 15Introduction to Celtx

Writing Assignment:

Adapt one Laramie Project “Moment” into a  Screenplay  – sections assigned in class. Due next Tuesday.

Week 39/ 11 & 9/13Script vs. Screenplay Have Read:c   Screenplay: Chapters 6-9c   Little Miss Sunshine – excerpts†Suggested Reading:

  • Making Short Films Chapter 9:  Greta May the Adaptation. *Warning* Graphic content.

Writing Assignment:

  • Cinematic Story – Due 9/18

DUE: Laramie Project Screenplay Scene

Write what You KnowHave Read: c   Selected short film scripts on blackboardc   Shot by Shot:  Pages ix – 6c   Screenplay: Chapters 10-12


View: short films & excerpts

  • “Spin” by Double Edge Films
  • Rubber


Identifying Character need.


Week 49/18 & 9/20Pre-production Design & Story-boarding “Designing the Frame: Shot composition, art design, and visual metaphors”DUE: Cinematic StoryHave Read: ÿ        Shot by Shot: Chapters 2 & 3. Words to Stills to Shots (Empire of the Sun, Citizen Kane, Graduate)View: examples of above plus Brother’s Quay, Chel White, David Lynch

IN-CLASS Writing Exercise:

  • Index card scenes

Writing Assignment: Outline of scenes for story in a Treatment format. Index card the scenes & rearrange. Write all of Screenplay in one sitting without editing (reworking). ROUGH in class 9/20. Refined Due 9/25

“Propelling the Action forward with Montage” DUE: ROUGH screenplay w/ class copiesHave Read:c   Shot by Shot:  Chapters: 5-7, 21& 22c   Eisenstein’s theories of Montage†.


Week 59/25 & 9/27Story to Storyline DUE: Screenplay 1Have Read: c   Shot by Shot: Chapters 4 & 8,Visiting Artist: Mareca GutheriePRODUCTION ASSIGNMENT:

Storyboard your screenplay + classmates as slide show. Due in 1 week.

Screenplays assigned. Visualize and design.

Have Read: c   Shot by Shot: Chapters 13 -16 Depth of Field, Camera Angles, Framing, POV, 


Week 610/2 & 10/4Previz into DUE: Storyboards 1 & 2  – Class Critique  Animatics Introduced with Avid Production Assignment: Animatics from Storyboards 1. Due 10/16
Week 710/9 & 11 Producing: Have Read : c   · Film Production: Chapter 1-The Production Team,c   Chapter 2 – The Production Officec     Chapter 3 – Basic Accounting ,

c   Chapter 5 – Incentives

c   Chapter 7- Insurance Requirements

In Class: Animatics Production

Outsourcing – Finding the right person for the job. Have Read: c   Film Production: Chapter 9 – Building Relationshipsc   Chapter 10 – Deal Memosc   Chapter 11 – Unions and Guilds,

c   Chapter 12– Principal Talent;

c   Chapter 13 – Background Talent

Week 810/16 & 18   Final Cut Animatic DUE. Class Critiques. FrameForge introduced:Have explored:http://www.frameforge3d.com/watch-demo/http://www.frameforge3d.com/kb/“Reading between the lines”

Dialogue & Dramatic Need

Have Read:

c    Shot by Shot: Chapters 9,10, 11, 12 -Dialogue Staging

Production Assignment: The Messenger in Frame Forge. Due 10/25


Week 910/23 & 25 Have Read: c   Film Production: Chapter 17: Safetyc   Shot by Shot: Chapters 17-20Staging and Motion options via FrameForge

Production Assignment:

Final Animatics, with rendered audio, voice over, credits, soundtrack Due Week 15 (12/4) for Critique.

Production Preparations: Script BreakdownHave Read · Film Production:c    Chapter 4 – From Script to Schedulec   Chapter 6- Pre-Production

Production Assignment:

Do a script breakdown for classmate’s film. Include a budget and breakdown sheets.  Due 11/8.

DUE: 3D Animatic Exercise (The Messenger) Due.




Week 1010/30 & 11/1 Budgeting with MovieMagicHave Read: Film Productionc   Chapter 25 –Independent Filmmaking,c    Chapter 26, Low-Budget Filmmaking

Production : Prepare a preliminary budget for your film. Fantasy version! Due next class


LocationsHave Read: · Film Production: c   Chapter 18- Locationsc   Chapter 19 – Distant Location,

c   Chapter 20 – Foreign Locations

Enticing your crew: Housing, Food, and Fun

· Film Production:, Chapter 21: Travel and Housing, Chapter 22: Shipping

Production: Find locations for your film, and upload potential Fairbanks locations to ReelScout.


Week 1111/6 & 8 Audio & Effects  Enhancements: Adding Sound Design to your project. Voice-overs, score, and music rights.Have Read: Film Production: c   Chapter 15 – Clearances & Releases,

c    Chapter 16 – Guide to Music Clearance

c   Chapter 23 – Effects


Casting: What to look for, and how.

Voice over casting call. Preliminary readings for production casting.


Fundraising: Pitching & The BizSources for film producing, the reality of the independent film industry. Low and high budget models.Film Production: c   Chapter 24 -Specifically TelevisionGuest Speaker: Ronan Nagle

DUE: Production breakdown and Budget


Week 12 11/13 & 15 Wiggle Room Wiggle Room
Week 1311/20 Sharing and Exporting your projectsHave Read:Film Productionc   Chapter 29 – Wrapc   Chapter 30 – Post Production Overview


Week 1411/27 & 29 The Future JobHave Read:Film Productionc   Chapter 27- New Media,c    Chapter 28 – Commercial Production

c   Chapter 31 – Greener Filmmaking

c   Chapter 32 – Industry Survival Tips

Patience or Broadcast? Have Read:c   Shot by Shot: Chapter 23Avatar to the Max. Without a box. Self-publishing vs. Distribution vs. hulu. Can you go viral?
Week 1512/4 & 6 Critique of Final Previz Animatics. Critique of Final Previz Animatics.

8 – 10 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 13


Screenplay & Production notebooks due.