Hauling Like A Brooligan

Stephen Gallagher


Detailed storyboarding was already a common practice when Francis Ford Coppola made ONE FROM THE HEART, but he moved it forward with a controversial experiment in which he taped rehearsals and put together a complete video assembly of scenes and angles that he then used as a guide throughout principal photography. As a scene was shot, he’d drop it in; gradually all the taped rehearsal scenes (which were shot without lighting, costumes or sets, and even in some cases with stand-ins for the
cast) were replaced by filmed sequences until only the proper stuff remained.

It was a troubled shoot, way over budget, and things got worse when someone (to Coppola’s great dismay) screened the half-and-half assembly for executives who thought they were seeing the finished thing and panicked. Cast and crew hated the system, and the digital technology wasn’t yet sufficiently developed to become the editing tool that Coppola wanted it to be.

But something of his approach survives in the present-day blockbuster practice of previsualising entire sequences in the form of animatics, which are mostly-rendered 3D animations cut together and followed closely in the actual shooting by director and CGI teams to ensure that everything gets covered and everything fits together. Sometimes you get to see these as DVD extras; I’m too lazy to check, but I’m pretty sure there are some examples on the first X-MEN disc.