In a sign that digital production is maturing as an industry, today marks the birth announcement for a new professional org: the Previsualization Society.

A nonprofit interdisciplinary group, the society was formed through an unprecedented collaboration among the American Society of Cinematographers, the Art Directors Guild and the Visual Effects Society.

All three orgs have a stake in the future of previs. Storyboards and animatics, the main precursors of previs, were the domain of the ADG. Computer-generated imagery tended to be lumped under visual effects. Cinematographers, for their part, have complained about previs sequences created without their input.

The ASC-ADG-VES Joint Technology Subcommittee on Previsualization, co-chaired by consultant/CG expert David Morin and Proof founder/prexy Ron Frankel, had to hammer out everything from a definition of previs to the proper spelling of the word. (They settled on “previs” over “previz.”)

Though previs is now a widely accepted production process, there hasn’t been a widely accepted definition of it. Most have been content with the “I know it when I see it” approach.

The society, though, defines previsualization as a “collaborative process that generates preliminary versions of shots or sequences, predominantly using 3D animation tools and a virtual environment. It enables filmmakers to visually explore creative ideas, plan technical solutions and communicate a shared vision for efficient production.”

As its founders note, the society is making a couple of points: First, previs is not a tool or a product but a process, and second, it shouldn’t be lumped under pre-production, production or post, as it can be used anywhere along the chain.

The Previsualization Society aims to promote and publish information, promote standards and facilitate workflow development and practical knowledge exchange. It will have several classes of membership, including professional, for previs pros; associate, for other pros in the business; educational; and general interest.

The org is already signing up charter members through its website, Previssociety.com. Applications submitted now will be considered for January, when the org ramps up its activities.

Founding members of the Previsualization Society are Frankel; Colin Green, president and founder of Pixel Liberation Front, who is the org’s first president; David Dozoretz, founder, director and VFX supervisor, Persistence of Vision (POV) Previs; Chris Edwards, CEO, the Third Floor; Daniel Gregoire, owner, Halon Entertainment; and Brian Pohl, chief exec, POV Previs.

Software giant Autodesk is a charter sponsor for the org.