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Insights & Trends 4 min read

This production company used location tech to finish ahead of time—and under budget

This production company used location tech to finish ahead of time—and under budget

Shomen Productions had a challenge: complete a realistic animation of a T-Rex on the rampage in San Francisco in seven weeks. Here's how they did it.

James Bennett is used to creating new worlds from scratch incredibly quickly. He worked for 18 years in the film industry on movies including Iron Man, How to Train Your Dragon, Avatar and King Kong.

Nevertheless, it was going to be a challenge to create an animation of a dinosaur and alien troops destroying downtown San Francisco in just seven weeks from pitch to finished product.

“There was one week between the pitch and approval, then a week of pre-production, four weeks of production and just one week of post-production," James said. “We were cutting it super fine — it all comes down to preparation. If you don't get the foundation of your house right, you will have problems. Production is the same."

There was one critical difference with this animation. Rather than building the cityscape from various data sources which chew up a schedule, his Shomen Productions team used HERE 3D Maps, powered by AWS.

Shomen Productions used the HERE 3D data as the base to create a photo-realistic cityscape.

“Once we had the 3D data, what would have taken us a week to do took an afternoon, because the maps were complete," James said. “I was able to scout my locations really quickly and get all my framing correct."

It meant that a working concept was ready for the client within days.

“When you are able to visualize something in as much detail as possible, it also means that you have to imagine less," said James. This is useful for clients not used to working in the creative industry who might not know what to expect. The sooner they can see the project in action, the sooner they can understand the vision of the creatives working on it.

James' team of 15 still had to create more detail on the buildings that would appear close-up on the screen. However, this was possible with one artist instead of two, in half the time it would normally take, because of the highly accurate detail on the HERE 3D data they already had — in animation, this process is known as 'previsualization'.

San Francisco is one of the cities offered by HERE Premier 3D Cities.

Mapping out creativity

The time that James and his team were able to save was so substantial that it shaved off a day of the planned production time and they were able to finish early.

But time savings were not the only advantage. When freed of the need to spend time on tasks such as measuring dimensions, the creative process is stimulated.

“If someone is spending huge amounts of mental capital on measuring objects and working out relative distances and relationships, this takes away from the energy they have to be creative," James explained.

For James, the advantages to the production industry are clear. He started Shomen Productions in 2017 in response to a changing global landscape. It brings production professionals together as a team, wherever they are based, on a project-by-project basis.

Now that the world has adjusted to remote working of this kind, being able to scout locations virtually using tools such as HERE Premier 3D Cities and HERE Geodata Models is something he thinks the creative industry will benefit from.

HERE Premier 3D Cities and HERE Geodata Models are a collection of capabilities that provide high-fidelity, digitized 3D volumetric representations of real-world objects such as buildings, roads, street furniture and terrain, which can be used to create immersive visualization experiences for AR/VR applications, as well as pre-visualizations, video games and simulations. They are scalable and highly accurate.

As there are more than one million creative professionals in the US alone, it seems likely that some will start seeing the advantages of data sets of this kind.

“I think the geolocation maps that HERE offers are phenomenal," James said.

Beth McLoughlin 2023

Beth McLoughlin

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