Rebooting a More Organic Spider-Man
Director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) had a whole new post-modern take for The Amazing Spider-Man: naturalistic, organic and more intimate. He even took his poses from the more recent Ultimate series of Marvel comics. Not only that, but Webb didn't want his crew to have any association with the previous Spider-Man movies.
This initially took production VFX supervisor Jerome Chen by surprise. But in the end having a clean slate proved liberating for him and his Sony Pictures Imageworks team. The new Spidey vibe was all about regeneration, including the depiction of Manhattan. In fact, one of Chen's favorite moments is when Spidey makes his way down 7th Avenue to get to the Lizard. "There's a long, extended swinging sequence, and the IMAX aspect ratio opens up and you really get to feel like you're above the city, 70 stories high," Chen suggests. This feeling of being up there with Spidey is enhanced by shooting natively in 3-D (in this case with the 3ality rig and Red Epic camera), utilizing the three Vs, according to Webb: Volume, Velocity and Vertigo.
"There's dirt there but also steam and things growing and things changing, even in the design of New York," Chen continues. "They were gonna shoot on the Universal backlot, and they just built a large exterior set because the backlot had burned down, so they have a section [replicating] New York with a brand new construction where they consulted all sorts of production designers in the business. We used that with extensions anchored at the end of each street corner in order to expand it. But I looked at how they were going to dress it, and I saw all this scaffolding and there was steam and the whole thing looked like it was under construction. Then when I asked what the actual sets were gonna look like, they said this is it. And if you look at Manhattan now, the whole place looks like it's under construction. There's a lot of scaffolding, steam and colorful lights. You can't see the facades of the buildings unless you get up really high, so that's the organic, natural look that Marc was going for."
There's more of an organic quality to Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker as well. He's an orphan determined to find out what happened to his parents and solve the mystery of his father's scientific research as well.
"He wanted Peter to do the research during the vigilante phase and pull together from different sources to create the suit, inspired by Liege riders," Chen recalls. "He only has one suit, so by the end of the movie it gets pretty scuffed up. So we ended up with four different suits in the computer so that we were always rendering the correct one with the right amount of damage."