Tristan Gardner

Precise Pre-Visualization: AI Image Gen in Commercial Video Workflows

October 2, 2023

In the world of video production, pre-visualization is a critical step that aligns visions between teams, enables cohesive and targeted storyboard frames, and enhances shot execution on set. Traditionally, this process involved illustration and collage-driven moodboarding or storyboarding which can be time-consuming and non-specific. Enter AI Image Generators - tools that use deep neural networks and a process called stable diffusion to generate visually realistic and coherent images based on text prompts. For Suora Studios, they’ve allowed a higher detail of pre-visualization with significant time and cost savings among other benefits. We use Midjourney, and here's how it has advanced our studio’s pre-production capabilities.

1. Photo-Realistic References for Clients & Creatives

Midjourney is a powerful tool for visualizing ideas, storyboarding, and composing shots and frames with photo-realistic reference material. It allows our team to iterate designs in early stages much more quickly, giving us the chance to experiment more on the same budget. We can now merge talent references with target qualities and clothing in the casting process. More importantly, we’ve noticed new reactions from our long-term clients who really appreciate an enhanced ability to see the ideas that we describe to them, better aligning expectations of the final product early on.

2. Visualizing Ideas with Precision and Clarity

We can easily transfer our expertise as filmmakers to Midjourney’s text prompts, enabling us to make the same decisions that a Director of Photography (DP) would on set. We can choose the aperture, focal length, lighting, mood, camera sensor, and even the lens’ look. For our on-location shoots, we’ve even prepared shot lists that blend our target shot composition with real world images of the site - something achieved previously via on-site location scouting, illustration, and Photoshop. This has enhanced precise communication of our detailed vision to crew, shifting the focus on set even more to execution rather than experimentation. See how closely our intended shot matches the final result in our spring shoot with Carolina Brewery.

3. Crafting a Cohesive Visual Story

Commercial studios now have more options in pre-production than a hodgepodge of images and sketches. We engineer our Midjourney prompts across an entire project or scene to produce shots that have the same talent, mood, look, and lighting to visualize a cohesive aesthetic with photo-realism, something you don’t typically see until the final stages of post-production. This approach gets us closer to the way in which we’ve always described our project phases of discovery and design: "where we make the video before we make the video."

4. Introducing a Digital Dressing Room

Midjourney takes wardrobe planning to the next level. Studios can explore a wide range of clothing options on the same model, adjusting attributes like age, hairstyle, and skin tone. We can be more confident that wardrobe is contributing to the story in the right ways. This capability ensures that the wardrobe matches the intended look of talent and helps us pre-visualize the relationship that clothing has with the scene’s set and their shots. 

Traditionally in pre-production, hiring an illustrator can cost upwards of $900/day. With a little training and an investment in an AI Image Generator, our studio advances an internal capability in pre-visualizing multiple aspects of the video process. Realistic text-to-image generation helps us bridge the gap between ideas of an experienced creator and alignment with the client on the full scope of the intended visual. It's not just about cost savings. It's about increasing detail without a 1:1 time increase and adapting emerging tech to our process in order to deliver a better experience to our clients from the start.

Check out a featured project case study below.

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