Serving Your Community, There’s an App for That: A Look at Five Forward-Thinking LA Startups

Think that the Internet is about sharing that epic GoPro surfing video of you in Costa Rica, buying designer shoes, or watching Justin Beiber YouTube videos? Think again.

There’s a new kind of entrepreneur on the scene. Startups are exploring how to use cutting-edge technology for social impact.

Today mobile apps are helping case workers work with refugee children in Africa, startups are building affordable solar powered houses in India, and a slick online campaign raised enough money to rescue 600 North Korean refugees from human trafficking. At “Beyond Yourself: Technology for Social Impact” an event hosted by Cross-Campus co-location workspace in Santa Monica on March 23, 2017 panelists discussed several different ways to use technology for good.

Here’s how five Southern California startups are making an impact:

Rise: Solving the world’s refugee crisis with a paradigm shift, using Cloud Computing App
Max Lansing from Rise says there are 65 million refugees worldwide. The problem is that the humanitarian coordination system designed to meet refugee needs is filled with outdated and inefficient tools. It takes two years on average for a refugee child to receive minimum core protective services.

Startup Rise is deploying a mobile technology platform to speed the delivery of life-saving humanitarian aid to children.

“Today we are working with a Berlin social services agency, to help them identify faster how many refugee youth are living and Berlin and who needs help,” explains Lansing the company’s lead engineer. “Social workers are spending too much time filling out paper reports, now they can use a cloud database to launch a well-organized intervention”.

Starbucks with Wi-Fi hot spots are not easy to come by in East Africa. Rise’s tools are designed to work in Internet and infrastructure poor settings, relying on portable Wi-Fi, solar device charging, and technologies common in developing countries.

Funraise: the best online fundraising tools in one powerful platform
When it comes to the back-office side of technology non-profits are not known for being cutting edge or efficient in return on investment – enter Funraise and its team of consultants. Start with a pre-built template and build your brand into every aspect of your donation campaign experience. Whether it’s crowd funding, getting and keeping re-curing donors, or doing wealth screening Funraise has helped raise over 15 million in grass roots campaigns.

A slick donation site in no time that is on-message, ties in your branding, and keeps your loyal donors? Justin Wheeler thinks better technology and his team of front end developers and digital marketing strategists could be the secret weapons to help nonprofits maximize their impact.

GivSum: Connecting individuals and charities on a single platform to change the world
GiveSum is a one-stop source for volunteers, nonprofit organizations and corporations. Shawn Wehan started GivSum in 2013 after noticing how many nonprofits had technology issues. Nonprofits were using PayPay to manage donations, or Volunteer Match, or an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of volunteers or Sales Force.

The online platform gives charities an effective tool for fundraising. But the social media component Wehan says is key, because it allows people who volunteer to be role models and inspire others to do more.

Amped Innovation: Radically Affordable Energy
The world population will add 2 billion more people in the next ten years, says Amped Innovation’s Robert Woolery,  But the existing legacy power grid will cost too much to upgrade.

Enter Amped Innovation, an early stage startup that wants to put the power grid into people’s own hands Amped Innovation is building a prototype affordable solar home for people living off the grid. Designed as a high performing, low cost solar powered home Amped Innovation says the product is getting early traction in Africa and India. Unlike ordering a Tesla, an energy efficient amped house is designed for people making four dollars a day. Customers can start by purchasing a single solar panel and add as they go.

Teens Exploring Technology (TxT)
Founder Oscar Menjivar is on a mission to give inner city youth in the rougher neighborhoods of Los Angeles early exposure to writing code and computer science.

TXT gives young Latino and black youth an opportunity to express themselves through Computer Science and Entrepreneurship. Students in the program learn about leadership skills, programming, and UX design.

Menijvar’s hope is that by exposing teens to programming and UI design early, they can uplift themselves from poverty and get on the pathway to college. President Obama acknowledged Menjivar for his work helping LA’s low-income teenagers see careers in  science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) as possible.

Behind the Scenes with CEO Chris Edwards, Blockbuster Movies Get Made on a Laptop?

Pixel-packing “Previs” Computer Whizzes Make Movies Faster, Better, Cheaper

By Phoebe Berline

Holding a flat computer monitor rigged up with buttons to look like a camera, Chris Edwards runs across the floor of the Director’s Layout or “D-Lo” Room. Fingers looped through two side handles of the virtual camera, Edwards sees on his iPad-like screen a window into a computer generated imagery (CGI) scene, a long stretch of beach where a giant silver robot is facing off with the Allied Forces Army.

Edwards pans left and a soldier in fatigues leaps off a truck. “You riff off ideas,” he says. “You can zoom in on this guy, and get a visceral camera move.” Edwards spins around and hits a button on the side of the iPad-like screen. “I can change lenses. And look up into the virtual world. What are those helicopters doing back there?” Ultrasonic sensors on the ceiling are driving the virtual camera, tracking its position, and storing every spin and detail of how he is filming this action on a computer, down to the last millimeter.

“So our movie is well on its way,” Edwards says with a grin, playing back the master scene on a large overhead monitor. “There are only 3,000 shots in a movie, so we just need to do a few more of those and it’s done.”

It’s a typical day at the office, for the CEO of The Third Floor, a Previsualization studio in Los Angeles. “Previs,” (pronounced “pree-vis”) is the newest Hollywood department. Often confused with Special Effects (the “other geek department”) Previs Supervisors have to keep their work a secret. Studios typically will not release or make public any previs shots or videos, until months after a movie’s premiere.

Across Los Angeles, burgeoning previs studios of pixel whizzes generate preliminary versions of movie shots or sequences, predominantly using 3D animation tools on a computer. In a creepily-futuristic moment that most associate with the like of James Cameron, Edwards has shot a digital movie scene in a minute in a half.

But the similarities between previs and Avatar end there. Previs isn’t a special effects tool; it’s a process that makes life easier for the Director and departments including special effects, as they actually produce their movie. “Making a modern movie is so complex [and the steps] and expectations of all that money being spent are so high,” says Colin Green, president of the Previsualization Society. “You really need a previs process to ensure that making something great, is as successful as possible.”

Previs looks like a video game, but works as a 3D, accurate, technically detailed, blueprint for a movie –a blockbuster or live-action 2D film. Think of it as a highly evolved story board. A previs shot provides just enough cinematic excitement to show if a scene will work on the big screen. “We can see the future,” Edwards jokes about his minute and a half digital movie shoot, which will cost a mere fraction of Avatar. But previs is no laughing matter within the movie-making business.

“It’s being embraced like never before, because the alternative is that the shot doesn’t make it, or gets left on the cutting room floor,” Edwards says. In other words, previs saves money by eliminating the possibility of getting things wrong on-set, when daily costs can top a half a million dollars per day.

But is digitally assisted creativity a good thing when it comes to movie making? Depends who you ask. First, there’s the debate about whether previsualizing movies with computer plans goes too far, and hurts artistic integrity. Then, there’s the question about if previs eliminating the need for creative input cinematographer or Director of Photography jobs as previs wages a PR campaign to prove with results how it can empower people on set to do their jobs, just differently. A culture clash exists between cinematographers who are sculpture of light and Previs artists who handle lens decision, cameras and pacing to create shots in a believable way in the virtual world. Finally, the other disruptive [tricky] aspect of previs: It’s a secret.

Edwards’ desktop is like a private screening of the most exciting tent pole movie moments that an audience will never get to see. He cues up a fly-through of the world of Avatar, featuring the digital sets his crew created for the lush previs world surrounding the Ohm Tree. Edwards also cut his teeth working with George Lucas. He works fast and as he zips his cursor to a folder marked Star Wars Episode Three a clip pops up of a surprisingly fit Yoda jumping through the high council room, a scene conceived of entirely on previs. Another previs shot, for 2008’s Valkyrie, shows a digital Tom Cruise running from an explosion of Hitler’s headquarters. Of course, it’s not really Tom running; previs artists block out a live actor with a rough digital double, just to give the cinematographer a facsimile feel for how it will look when executed… with notably less trial and error. Other Edwards highlights? Director Tim Burton asked him and his team to previs the Alice in Wonderland finale scene, wherein Alice slays the Jabberwocky TK other detail. Figuring out five different ways to cut off the head of the Jabberwocky trusted on a creative level in cinematic and storytelling idea worthy of being chosen. And when Edwards plays the final fight scene from Iron Man 2, it maps, almost exactly, what appeared at your local Cineplex , (To get that one, digital artists at the Third Floor dressed up because the new norm of previs is integrated from start to finish organizing and crafting the film – if real audiences see this or not.

Make way for Hollywood’s newest techno job description, coming out from behind the scenes. Sometimes the studio will ask for a robot fight scene mock up in 24 hours, as happened in real-life for Iron Man 2. Some days Edwards makes a shot from a napkin doodle from Spielberg that reads: “Wooky Takes out Crew” for Star Wars Episode III. Sometimes Edwards is on set and plays a scene on his laptop for the Director.

While previs keeps Directors armed with scenes and even the bean counters happy, some fear it could hinder creativity by forcing cinematographers and directors to shoot exactly what was created in previs, or, in the parlance of the business, “shoot to boards.” In other words, a producer [read non-creative type] will see an amazing previs shot and say, “Yes, the studio wants that exactly!” Because previs is nimble a director might ask a previs team to tackle the big opening, the tent pole moment at the end, the complicated scenes in the middle or whatever scares him or the producers the most. But Edwards says the reality is: “More often than not they [Director or DP] shoot 75% of the previs and then they riff off that they do 50% than they thought they would get.”

Previs is also shifting gears and no longer about blowing things up, but about telling story-driven dramatic moments. And it’s faster — a lot faster an idea can be mocked up in number of hours, try out options shaping the moments of the sequences faithful to the script to strengthen the vision. Watching a previs supervisor in action shows how optimized today’s previs is and explains maybe why Hollywood is a little scared of this crew of techno whizzes entrusted with decisions about artistic integrity?

A previs team doesn’t so much arrive on set, as “decamp” with networked laptops, motion capture suits and virtual questions Edwards says. Edwards builds a virtual camera shot tapping away at his keyboard, explaining the efficiency driving the backend of previs. The ARC database contains 89 different kinds of boulders, and digital assets like robots, creatures and aliens, and environments like trees and flowers and effects, like gaseous explosions. “I get a cactus and at first it looks like wire frame geometry. It’s shading and then I turn on the texturing.” Previs is light enough so that he can import a character in seconds. “I’ve got an angle standing on a cactus, which is dangerous. Then you put in a real camera, scale it up and compose a shot.”

Edwards toggles between Director-speak and technology-speak with ease. That’s because a previs artist works simultaneously on story and technical previs analysis, decisions about lens choices, shot lengths and dimensions how things are arranged relative to each other. And the job requires knowing how to edit shots into sequences, the language of special effects and creating real camera moves that can be done within budget for the VFX supervisor. It needs to read well as an artistic composition, so not a job for an animator at a workstation or work with editor or editor of the movie. People skills, especially interacting with A list Directors and proving to cinematographers, DP, VFX how they can empower them to do their jobs. “We’re here for the Director of Photography,” says David Dozoretz, the first previs supervisor hired to report directly to Lucas. Previs creates slick studio pr campaigns needs access to people like art department and DP editor early requiring shift in budget mentality to spend more up front and save money in the end, why it’s expanding., and is now using these skills to hone its own message and reach out to help empower everyone. “We have some education to do.”

In the trenches where a big blockbuster animation movie that no one can talk about is in full swing, on the third floor of The Third Floor’s mid-Wilshire office in Los Angeles is where the real battle is fought. The workroom is set up like a hub, first stop is storyboards, then animatics where storyboards are animated in a computer, to previs and back to the guy reading the script. Edwards is a fresh faced, lanky 6 foot three man in motion, who checks in on the scene, like some guys might do a cross-training circuit at the gym. A previs supervisor sometimes reports to several bosses – director, cinematographer, set design, producer, visual effects supervisor.

Fueled by jellybeans, bananas and starbucks previs artists work on high res double monitors, mocking up roughly one shot per day. Behind every shot is a layer of fire wire frames, data the studio will need to recreate the shot like the Matrix. The 3D Maya Autodesk software they use is accurate to the inch and also used to design cars. “Whoa,” someone has just moved a tree on set. Five seconds? “If you tried to do that special effects,” says Edwards, “you would blow up the computer.”

Previs Supervisor on deck for the evening, Eric Carr says: “There’s some changes in the script that’re being made. We’re not sure. We’ll have to redo it.” Ah, reality. Edward gives Carr a nod. Despite the swirl of activity in the Virtual art Department (VAD), Hollywood is not getting automated, not tonight. Fixing it in pre costs thousands but fixing in post could cost millions, and there’s no technology needed to wrap your head around that. “Often previs does expose problems in the entire film and this is a good thing,” says Edwards. “We may mock up something up that ends up on the cutting floor. We take one for the team.”

As light shines through reflecting the rich colors from a storyboard artist’s work that is tacked up on a Tarzan board that Edwards saved form his alma mater Disney animation, he lingers for a moment over the artwork. His job is to imagine the 2D art in motion, to exposing new opportunities and challenges and even though these previs storyboards will be up for two months, not two years like might happen at Pixar. The experts say Previs has bells and whistles but is not trying to upstage, look cooler than or replace 2D concept art. The best previs is a central hub that fosters collaboration between the 2D and 3D artists: “It’s an additive process.”

Previs began as an experimental special effects tool seen as a throwaway. But today because a virtual camera can mimic a real camera as in the case of Tron the entire movie can be prevised and the digital data carried through the entire production. Today the lightweight digital technology Hollywood can use previs as the underlying framework. “So we’re really talking about a change of mindset from the idea of preparation is a plan that you make, and then go out and make the movie,” says Edwards. “To the new mindset we’re making the movie from the moment we sit down and start working with the initial creative team and it just gets better and better.”

Movies don’t look to getting any less complicated, and the previs is in step working as a communication and collaboration plan to hold all the pieces together, shape and strengthening the key moments, and save money and time in the process looks bright.

Now that the previs secret is out, will it mean better movies? That’s the multi-million dollar question.

Mayor Sees Tech in LA on an Upswing

July 7, 2016 – Speaking against a backdrop of downtown highrises, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says he sees a diverse tech scene coming to downtown. From rocket builders like Space-X, to futuristic tube transportation startup Hyperloop, to biotech, and videogame and Hollywood content creators – LA has a unique mix of technology innovators.

Silicon Beach companies like Snapshat and Facebook are covered in the media as the most disruptive tech players. But the Mayor of LA sees a different story playing out.

Tech Innovation: with a “Let’s do Lunch” Culture
Speaking at the launch of new co-work space Cross Campus Downtown LA, the Mayor says he sees a different kind of technology surge happening in Los Angeles. The lack of VC funding aside, the unique mix of storytellers, social image conscious people who know how to network, and technological innovation – means a different kind of tech wave in Los Angeles.

The Mayor seems aware of the role that fast wi-fi, available commercial real estate, and transportation will play in revitalizing downtown LA. For the first time in 63 years, the expo train line train line now connects the beaches of Santa Monica (where many “Silicon Beach” startups are headquartered) – with downtown.

Los Angeles is known as a car culture. But the new Expo train line means a 45-50 minute train ride can connect a startup entrepreneur from “Silicon Beach” in Santa Monica to downtown, in one train ride. In San Francisco a Google van ride from San Francisco to Silicon Valley is about the same commute.

Is Los Angeles late to the game? Sure. But it is making strides in terms of a new mix of transportation, co-work space, and the ecosystem of venture capitalists to foster technology innovation.

Technology and computers increasingly being used in Hollywood has been fostering job creation for years now. Now the city seems poised to be a hub of tech innovation.

Mayor Eric Garcetti notes online dating site eHarmony will be moving its headquarters from Santa Monica, to Los Angele’s Westwood business district on July 20, 2016. Tax breaks for Internet companies that were just extended for another three years by the Mayor certainly played a role.

Mayor Garcetti sees the fundamentals, like available commercial real estate – all promising signs of a new hub of technology innovation coming to Los Angeles.

Is Previs Hollywood’s New “Geek” Department?

 

Holding a flat computer monitor rigged up with buttons to look like a camera, Chris Edwards runs across the floor of the Director’s Layout or “D-Lo” Room. Fingers looped through two side handles of the virtual camera, Edwards sees on his iPad-like screen a window into a computer generated imagery (CGI) scene, a long stretch of beach where a giant silver robot is facing off with the Allied Forces Army.

Edwards pans left and a soldier in fatigues leaps off a truck. “You riff off ideas,” he says. “You can zoom in on this guy, and get a visceral camera move.” Edwards spins around and hits a button on the side of the iPad-like screen. “I can change lenses. And look up into the virtual world. What are those helicopters doing back there?” Ultrasonic sensors on the ceiling are driving the virtual camera, tracking its position, and storing every spin and detail of how he is filming this action on a computer, down to the last millimeter.

“So our movie is well on its way,” Edwards says with a grin, playing back the master scene on a large overhead monitor. “There are only 3,000 shots in a movie, so we just need to do a few more of those and it’s done.”

It’s a typical day at the office, for the CEO of The Third Floor, a Previsualization studio in Los Angeles. “Previs,” (pronounced “pree-vis”) is the newest and youngest Hollywood geek department. Burgeoning studios of pixel whizzes generate preliminary versions of movie shots or sequences, predominantly using 3D animation tools on a computer. In a creepily-futuristic moment that most associate with the like of James Cameron, Edwards has shot a digital movie scene in a minute in a half.

But the similarities between previs and Avatar end there. Previs isn’t a special effects tool; it’s a process that makes life easier for the Director and departments including special effects, as they actually produce their movie. “Making a modern movie is so complex [and the steps] and expectations of all that money being spent are so high,” says Colin Green, president of the Previsualization Society. “You really need a previs process to ensure that making something great, is as successful as possible.”

Previs looks like a video game, but works as a 3D, accurate, technically detailed, blueprint for a movie –a blockbuster or live-action 2D film. Think of it as a highly evolved story board. A previs shot provides just enough cinematic excitement to show if a scene will work on the big screen. “We can see the future,” Edwards jokes about his minute and a half digital movie shoot, which will cost a mere fraction of Avatar. But previs is no laughing matter within the movie-making business.

“It’s being embraced like never before, because the alternative is that the shot doesn’t make it, or gets left on the cutting room floor,” Edwards says. In other words, previs saves money by eliminating the possibility of getting things wrong on-set, when daily costs can top a half a million dollars per day.

But is digitally assisted creativity a good thing when it comes to movie making? Depends who you ask. First, there’s the debate about whether previsualizing movies with computer plans goes too far, and hurts artistic integrity. Then, there’s the question about if previs eliminating the need for creative input cinematographer or Director of Photography jobs as previs wages a PR campaign to prove with results how it can empower people on set to do their jobs, just differently. A culture clash exists between cinematographers who are sculpture of light and Previs artists who handle lens decision, cameras and pacing to create shots in a believable way in the virtual world. Finally, the other disruptive [tricky] aspect of previs: It’s a secret.

Edwards’ desktop is like a private screening of the most exciting tent pole movie moments that an audience will never get to see. He cues up a fly-through of the world of Avatar, featuring the digital sets his crew created for the lush previs world surrounding the Ohm Tree. Edwards also cut his teeth working with George Lucas. He works fast and as he zips his cursor to a folder marked Star Wars Episode Three a clip pops up of a surprisingly fit Yoda jumping through the high council room, a scene conceived of entirely on previs. Another previs shot, for 2008’s Valkyrie, shows a digital Tom Cruise running from an explosion of Hitler’s headquarters. Of course, it’s not really Tom running; previs artists block out a live actor with a rough digital double, just to give the cinematographer a facsimile feel for how it will look when executed… with notably less trial and error.

Other Edwards highlights? Director Tim Burton asked him and his team to previs the Alice in Wonderland finale scene, wherein Alice slays the Jabberwocky TK other detail. Figuring out five different ways to cut off the head of the Jabberwocky trusted on a creative level in cinematic and storytelling idea worthy of being chosen. And when Edwards plays the final fight scene from Iron Man 2, it maps, almost exactly, what appeared at your local Cineplex (to get that fight sequence choreography nailed, digital artists at the Third Floor dressed up the intern in a motion capture body suit). The new norm of previs is integrated from start to finish organizing and crafting the film. Real audiences don’t normally get to see previs but sometimes the studio’s marketing department will release previs assets to share behind the scenes moments of how action gets conceptualized.

Make way for Hollywood’s newest techno job description, the Previsualization Supervisor coming out from behind the scenes (but still getting confused with the Visual Effects department who create the post and final version of previs assets). Sometimes the studio will ask for a robot fight scene mock up in 24 hours, as happened in real-life for Iron Man 2. Some days Edwards makes a shot from a napkin doodle from Spielberg that reads: “Wooky Takes out Crew” for Star Wars Episode III. Sometimes Edwards is on set and plays a scene on his laptop for the Director.

While previs keeps Directors armed with scenes and even the bean counters happy, some fear it could hinder creativity by forcing cinematographers and directors to shoot exactly what was created in previs, or, in the parlance of the business, “shoot to boards.” In other words, a producer [read non-creative type] will see an amazing previs shot and say, “Yes, the studio wants that exactly!” Because previs is nimble a director might ask a previs team to tackle the big opening, the tent pole moment at the end, the complicated scenes in the middle or whatever scares him or the producers the most. But Edwards says the reality is: “More often than not they [Director or DP] shoot 75% of the previs and then they riff off that.”

Previs is also shifting gears and no longer about blowing things up, but about telling story-driven dramatic moments. And it’s faster — a lot faster an idea can be mocked up in number of hours, try out options shaping the moments of the sequences faithful to the script to strengthen the vision. Watching a previs supervisor in action shows how optimized today’s previs is and explains maybe why Hollywood is a little scared of this crew of techno whizzes entrusted with decisions about artistic integrity?

A previs team doesn’t so much arrive on set, as decamp with networked laptops, motion capture suits and virtual cameras Edwards says.

Edwards can build a virtual camera shot tapping away at his keyboard, like some guys can make a sandwich. He explains the efficiency driving the backend of previs has to do with a digital library. The ARC database contains 89 different kinds of boulders, and digital assets like robots, creatures and aliens, and environments like trees and flowers and effects, like gaseous explosions. “I get a cactus and at first it looks like wire frame geometry. It’s shading and then I turn on the texturing.” Previs is light enough so that he can import a character in seconds. “I’ve got an angle standing on a cactus, which is dangerous. Then you put in a real camera, scale it up and compose a shot.”

Edwards toggles between Director-speak and technology-speak with ease. That’s because a previs artist works simultaneously on story and technical previs analysis, decisions about lens choices, shot lengths and dimensions how things are arranged relative to each other. And the job requires knowing how to edit shots into sequences, the language of special effects and creating real camera moves that can be done within budget for the VFX supervisor. It needs to read well as an artistic composition, so not a job for an animator at a workstation or work with editor or editor of the movie. People skills, especially interacting with A list Directors and proving to cinematographers, DP, VFX how they can empower them to do their jobs.

“We’re here for the Director of Photography,” says David Dozoretz, the first previs supervisor hired to report directly to Lucas. Previs creates slick studio pr campaigns and needs access to people like art department and DP editor early requiring shift in budget mentality to spend more up front and save money in the end, why it’s expanding., and is now using these skills to hone its own message and reach out to help empower everyone. “We have some education to do.”

In the trenches where a big blockbuster animation movie that no one can talk about is in full swing, on the third floor of The Third Floor’s mid-Wilshire office in Los Angeles is where the real battle is fought. The workroom is set up like a hub, first stop is storyboards, then animatics where storyboards are animated in a computer, to previs and back to the guy reading the script. Edwards is a fresh faced, lanky 6 foot three man in motion, who checks in on the scene, like some guys might do a cross-training circuit at the gym. A previs supervisor sometimes reports to several bosses – director, cinematographer, set design, producer, visual effects supervisor.

Fueled by jellybeans, bananas and Starbucks previs artists work on high res double monitors, mocking up roughly one shot per day. Behind every shot is a layer of fire wire frames, data the studio will need to recreate the shot to look just like it appears as final shot in a movie like The Matrix. The 3D Maya Autodesk software they use is accurate to the inch and also used to design cars. “Whoa,” someone has just moved a tree on set. Five seconds? “If you tried to do that special effects,” says Edwards, “you would blow up the computer.”

Previs Supervisor on deck for the evening, Eric Carr says: “There’s some changes in the script that’re being made. We’re not sure. We’ll have to redo it.” Ah, reality. Edward gives Carr a nod. Despite the swirl of activity in the Virtual art Department (VAD), Hollywood is not getting automated, not tonight. Fixing it in pre costs thousands but fixing in post could cost millions, and there’s no technology needed to wrap your head around that. “Often previs does expose problems in the entire film and this is a good thing,” says Edwards. “We may mock up something up that ends up on the cutting floor. We take one for the team.”

As light shines through reflecting the rich colors from a storyboard artist’s work that is tacked up on a Tarzan board that Edwards saved form his alma mater Disney animation, he lingers for a moment over the artwork. His job is to imagine the 2D art in motion, to exposing new opportunities and challenges and even though these previs storyboards will be up for two months, not two years like might happen at Pixar. The experts say Previs has bells and whistles but is not trying to upstage, look cooler than or replace 2D concept art. The best previs is a central hub that fosters collaboration between the 2D and 3D artists: “It’s an additive process.”

Previs began as an experimental special effects tool seen as a throwaway. But today because a virtual camera can mimic a real camera as in the case of Tron the entire movie can be prevised and the digital data carried through the entire production. Today the lightweight digital technology Hollywood can use previs as the underlying framework. “So we’re really talking about a change of mindset from the idea of preparation is a plan that you make, and then go out and make the movie,” says Edwards. “To the new mindset we’re making the movie from the moment we sit down and start working with the initial creative team and it just gets better and better.”

Movies don’t look to getting any less complicated, and the previs is in step working as a communication and collaboration plan to hold all the pieces together, shape and strengthening the key moments, and save money and time in the process looks bright.

Now that the previs secret is out, will it mean better movies? That’s the multi-million dollar question.