Spider-Man’s Lizard Part 1: The Animation
But we had a full muscle system under the hood there. And then the skin in this case – the entire skin was treated as cloth. He was draped in this leathery sort of skin. And, if you look at, like an iguana that turns its head, you get this big thick leathery kind of quality to the skin, it holds in bunches and wrinkles in natural ways.
So by making the skin a simulation we were able to achieve that very lizzardy looking skin. And then there are dynamics on top of that, dynamics that we have in animation that we control on our end, where we can explicitly get in there and add more jiggle and more punch where needed. And then on top of that when that gets into effects, they will put a simulation over the whole thing for even more jiggle.
Dan: How long did you have to do all this work? How big of an animation team did you have?
Dave: See when I came on, I think there was something on the order of 80 animators total at full capacity. Randy and I just split up the animators. Essentially, I worked with 40, he worked with 40. And though it was like two distinctly separate teams, we would interchange the players as needed. I was on for the last six months and in that time period, we banged out a lot of shots. But you know, to be honest, I think wanted to get back to you on when it started, because it seems like it’s been going on for at least a year and are you online Rachael?
Dan: And how many shots?
Dave: On the entire film, Imageworks completed 670 shots. There were 474 animation shots with Spider-Man, the Lizard or both. Pre-production, including character and environment development started in December of 2010. Character animation on shots during production lasted from September 2011 through April 2012.
Dan: Tell me about “the swing” shot in the finale.
Dave: That’s kind of an interesting development. It was right towards the end of production when Mark had cut the film together and was looking for an interesting way to end the film. There is this little “connection” that Peter has with Gwen at the end in the classroom, and he thought it would be great to have a nice climactic moment, an iconic movement for Spiderman.
So he thought okay, we’re going to go from the classroom, we’re going to transition into a night panorama of New York City and in the distance we see Spiderman swing around the building then up into frame. Then there is this big iconic Spiderman pose, where it goes into bullet time and boom, we go into the credits. We thought that would be a really cool way to end it.
Then he saw it and he thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we really push this to be something way more dramatic?” What he proposed was that we turn this into one of those moments where the camera just follows him. You can slingshot him off the gantry of the crane and then you can strike a pose up against the Washington Bridge, one of the iconic Spiderman poses in bullet time and then fly down over the roof tops and then through alley and kind of do this crazy sort of Spiderman like parkour through a long alleyway and then out the other side. And then he hits the pose. And it was one of those moments where I was just wondering wow, given the time left, is this even possible? But it was also one of those moments where, “Damn that would be cool…”
Dan: Right, you wanted to do it…
Dave: Really, truly, I mean that’s the kind of thing that excites the animators, especially ending the film on such a dramatic piece, where animators can really go to town with it and show their stuff. The solution really was to break that one shot up into four pieces. And then we would identify an in and out for each animator and then as each little section was to grow or shrink, we would still make sure we’re hitting those connection poses. And then we finessed each one of those four little pieces. Once each little piece was bought off in the end, we were able to string them all together seamlessly to create this long sequence. I think it’s a minute total of solid animation at the very end of the movie that just takes us out into the credits. So that was one of those moments that I’m glad we had the opportunity to do it, because I think the instant reaction is a little bit of, “We can’t do that.” Then the animators say, “Yes we can, yes we can, let us do it!”
Dan Sarto is editor-in-chief and publisher of Animation World Network.