WTH does a Visualization Artist do?

Alexandra Zedalis from The Third Floor tells us what the day-to-day for a visualization artist looks like

I was inspired to go into animation as a profession by films such as "Jurassic Park," "Star Wars," "Toy Story" and classic Disney films. I went to the Academy of Art University for 3D Animation and after college, I started doing facial animation which led me into the video game industry in Los Angeles. Over time, I continued to grow and expand my skill set into other areas of 3D and camera, which ultimately led me to previs and postviz for film. 


Alexandra Zedalis of The Third Floor talks about her role as a Visualization Artist.

I have been in Previs/Postviz for 5 years and in the industry for 10 years. I currently work at The Third Floor Visualization studio. 

How do you explain what you do for a living to someone who's not at all familiar with your industry?

Previs is a great tool used to help production visualize a shot or entire sequence before filming. After the film shoot is complete, the film plates are used for Postviz, where 3D characters, effects, and environments are put back into the filmed footage. Both previs and postviz help the production plan out the sequence for the film shoot and determine which parts will be filmed practically, and which will be all CG. 

A previs artist composes shots using 3D cameras and animates any characters, vehicles, lights or effects that may be in the shot. A postviz artist tracks camera moves, animates characters, effects, vehicles, and composites all 3D renders back into the film plate.


What does your average day look like?

I use Maya on a daily basis in both previs and postviz. Maya is our preferred application used for all animation, modeling, 3D effects, lighting and rendering.

For previs, we typically start with storyboards. We recreate the boards into animated movies utilizing 3D environments, characters, vehicles, effects and a 3D camera using Maya. Those animated movies – called shots – are then edited together into a sequence, which is shown to directors and supervisors across multiple departments.

We continue to build on the sequence from there; working with the director, editors, and visual effects supervisors until it’s working for everyone and is ready for filming. After the film shoot, the film plates are sent back to us for Postviz. In postviz, we start by tracking the movement of the plate to determine what the camera move was on set. 


That 3D camera track is then brought into Maya and into our 3D environment, where we also add in any 3D character/prop/effect needed to complete the shot. Finally, those 3D elements are rendered out and composited back into the film plate. The result is a representation of what the final shot will look like in the film. Once cut into the edit and approved, this is then handed off to a VFX house who will finalize the shot for the film.

What’s the most fun aspect of your job?

The most fun aspect of my job is working with so many incredibly talented people and being a part of the filmmaking process. It’s so interesting to be on a film from beginning to end, to see where it started, how it all comes together and to experience the audience’s reaction. It’s real movie magic!

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?

Every show has its challenges, but I welcome them as an opportunity to learn and become better equipped to overcome more challenges in the future. I always want to be learning new skills and moving forward.



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