Animation, China, Film, VFX

Previs in China: Evolution or Revolution?

February 5, 2018

As one Hollywood visual effects juggernaut after another is rapturously received in China, it is not difficult to understand why the country’s burgeoning film industry would aspire to integrate such technical prowess into their own movies.  Whether motivated by passion for the craft, patriotic pride or desire for profit, Chinese studios are eagerly seeking to emulate the visual wonders routinely emerging from top studios in Vancouver, Wellington and London.

As China embarks on this arduous creative quest, much recent talk in local production circles has centred on a set of filmmaking disciplines commonly lumped together and referred to as previs, production techniques now ubiquitous in VFX-heavy Hollywood.  On stage at Beijing’s visual media production conference, ICEVE, in 2016, The Third Floor CEO Chris Edwards, declared, “I think [previs] will be a revolution in China, for the betterment of the whole industry.”

Although previs has not yet truly taken hold, there has been a groundswell of early adoption that suggests Edwards is not wrong to predict major changes are coming.  Beijing-based Base FX previs supervisor, Gavin Boyle, confirms the trend, noting, “When it comes to previs, China is booming.  I’m swamped with work right now.  We’re actually pushing work back because there is just not enough time to do it.  A lot of my colleagues around Asia and the US are coming here to pick up Chinese work.”

While there have been successful examples of Chinese previs use, like on Monster Hunt and Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe, whether the rapidity and pervasiveness of its current penetration in China is impactful in the short-term is open for debate.

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