Spider-Man’s Lizard Part 1: The Animation
That was especially tricky when you put Spider-Man and the Lizard together in the same scene, because you’ve got some animators that are particularly good with the Lizard and others that are particularly good with Spider-Man. If you put the two of them together in a scene you can’t really split it up and give one animator Spider-Man and the other the Lizard because there is so much physical interaction between them.
It’s tricky enough with one character to do a convincing take on what the weight is, but then you put two of them together in the same scene with hand-to-hand combat like that, it gets particularly tricky. And that was how the whole back half of the high school fight sequence was done.
The first half was when the Lizard shows up at the high school and the whole fight begins. That was all practical photography for the environment, and it was pretty much Andrew Garfield fighting what would ultimately be a CG Lizard. And that established the movement style, because Andrew is fighting a stand in. And then Rhys was always there on set dealing with the stand-in tasks and delivering the lines, that kind of thing. Then when we got to the second half of the high school fight, that’s where everything became CG.
Dan: So the fight elements are all CG?
Dave: Everything. The school, the interior of the school was all digital. We have the front half as our guide as far as the look that needs to be achieved. But then that’s also where the fight got really dynamic after Andrew put on his mask and now he’s Spider-Man. Now we had complete freedom to make Spider-Man do whatever we wanted him to do. You know, run up, climb up walls and across the ceiling. The Lizard is chasing him and there is a really big dynamic thing going on between two of them. Because it was all digital at that point, it did allow Mark [Webb] to go back and look at the action after we’d executed the animation, [and see it] maybe was broader than he initially thought was possible.
But it allowed him to look at it and think, “Well, it would be kinda cool if we put the camera here instead,” which was really liberating for him of course because you’re not constrained by where that camera was on set.
So in the moment, for example where Spider-Man runs up the wall and across the ceiling and the Lizard is chasing him, yeah it looks cool based on where he thought the camera should be initially, but then it gives him the opportunity to say, look put the camera here, let’s cut the end. It really puts the audience in the heart of the action, really get up close and track along with the characters. It really helped the stereo aspect of it as well. Truly, it gets the audience immersed in that moment.
Dan: Can you tell me a little bit about some of the tools that you used, whether you had to modify any of your existing toolsets, or was there anything new created for the film?
Dave: I would say there is really nothing, no, not any new technology. I mean for the most part, it was our standard face rig with the controls and because of the nature of the face and the way the mouth works there is kind of a webbing on the inside of the mouth that was just a modeling and rigging thing that was sort of like an extra feature.
There was a nictitating membrane in the eye. There were transitions from being a Lizard back to human and vice versa. It’s got the slitted lizard eye that needs to transform into a normal looking pupil. Technology-wise, I think one interesting thing was the lizard skin and how that was handled, which I think Dave Smith talked to you about.