Be Prepared for Dailies

Here are for things you should always be prepared to discuss during dailies.

1) What to look at and what not to look at.
2) What changed from the previous version.
3) What the artist thinks should be done to improve their shot.
4) Any questions or concerns about this shot.

Visual effects “effects” iterations sent to dailies often look abstract and can be difficult to comment on.  Dailies can become a huge waste of time and I’ve noticed when studios followed this kind of format often each shot can be covered in as little as 20-40 seconds.

The submission might be a work in progress, a technical proof-of-concept test or a rough comp not refined by the final compositor.

Here are four questions I had asked my visual effects team to prepare for me each day for each shot.  These questions came out of my years of working at studios in Los Angles, a composite of the things I learned from my supervisors about how to speed the dailies process.

I started using these questions when dealing with a Chinese team in Beijing.  This gave time for the crew to write out their comments and allow time for the translator to prepare.

This method also works well for regular dailies where the artist is prepared beforehand.  This also helps the vfx supervisor to know what they are looking at and what to comment about.

Garman’s Four “Questions” for dailies.

Each of these four questions should be answered by the artist before dailies.

The coordinator playing shots should state the shot name and the artists name, play the shot and ask the artists for their comments.

The artist should be go through these “questions” as the shot is being  looped, before any comments are expected.

Don’t wait in silence for the VFX Supervisor to guess what they are looking at.  Tell him what to look for.

1) What to look at and what not to look at.

-Tell what you need comments on and what to ignore.  This helps the vfx sup to not waste his time trying to figure out what he is looking at.

-An example would be, “Look at the speed of the particle motion but not the color or size.”

2) What changed from the previous version.

-Tell what  you changed or what you were asked to change.  If this is the first time the effect is show, state what you are trying to demonstrate.

-An example would be, “This motion is 2x faster than the previous version and the particles now live 1.2x longer.”
3) What the artist thinks should be done to improve their shot.

-Tell what you think you should do next.  This helps the vfx supervisor know if you are on the right track and perhaps they will say “fine, continue” and will avoid him having to think for you.

-An example would be, “In this version the particles would cover the hero in the background so I feel we should have the particles move a bit faster and have a shorter lifespan so we can see the actors.”

4) Any questions or concerns about this shot.

-Now is the time to ask for specific guidance.

-Examples would be, “Does the smoke linger in the following shot because this is a closeup of the hero and we should see smoke from that camera view but  it’s not assigned.”  Or, “I noticed a bump in the camera track where the smoke goes around the car.  Can we look into that.”

Getting Comments Back.

Now we can get the comments from the VFX supervisor or others.   Since you already stated what you think should be done next, then it can make it easier to say, “OK to continue.”  Or to get more specific guidance.

Take Notes

I’ve always been a good note taker since I was in high school.  Perhaps because I was good at taking notes made it easier for me to study less after class.  Taking notes made me pay more attention to what was being said while it was being said.

I’m always amazed to be in meetings where people are discussing actions which involve tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of work, yet not many people are taking notes.   UNBELIEVABLE

Don’t depend on the coordinator to take notes for you.   They may be a professional note taker as part of their job but they don’t understand effects like you are supposed to and often don’t get it as accurate as you need it.

Take notes about what you are supposed to do.  Then take notes about what others are talking about even if you dont’ understand it.  Use your notes to help you find out what you need to understand later.  If you want to be the VFX Supervisor someday, you’ll need to know a lot, and taking notes at dailies is a great way to start.

Take It Offline

Dailies is the time for quick review of work in progress.  It helps production know it’s is staying on schedule, and helps the supervisors see all the work being done each day.

It’s supposed to be quick.  Most shots can be covered in 15-30 seconds.

Dailies is not the time to determine deep technical solutions while wasting everyone else’s time.  Dailies is to help find problems and solve them later.


2012.01.07  Vancouver BC

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