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MTV's New Spider-Man Series Snares 2D Look in 3D World

MTV's newest animated series, SPIDER-MAN premiered on Friday, July 11, 2003 at 10:00 pm, produced by Sony Pictures Television in association with Adelaide Prods. Mainframe Entertainment engineered and executed for Sony a new 3D production method to give the characters a somewhat flattened 2D look with three-dimensional dynamics of a film.

Neil Patrick Harris (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Lisa Loeb (Mary Jane Watson) and Ian Ziering (Harry Osborn) are the voice talent on the channel's new show, while guest voice talent includes Eve, Gina Gershon, Michael Clarke Duncan, Keith Carradine and Rob Zombie.

Based on the legendary Marvel comic book, and fresh off the hit motion picture, the animated series follows the adventures of Peter Parker who develops superhuman powers after being bitten by an irradiated spider. Now in college, Peter juggles classwork, works as a stringer photographer for the Daily Bugle, sells candid video of Spider-Man to Empire 1 News Channel, has on-again-off-again relationship with the love of his life, fights super-villains and criminals while struggling to maintain his secret identity as Spider-Man.

The series is being created in a unique computer-animated style, combining bright, lively abstract colors, including a seemingly realistic neon-lit city (CG neon noir) of the immediate future. From the earliest discussions about the style of the SPIDER-MAN series, they were determined to create a stylized 2D-looking show, Steve Wendland, producer for Mainframe told AWN. "The style is inspired by and pays tribute to the many great Marvel comics, but what sets this series apart from others is that it also possesses the three-dimensional dynamic of the SPIDER-MAN feature film.

"The result is quite stunning and unique, though it was actually quite difficult to achieve in the 3D medium in which it was created, "according to Wendland. "Because off-the-shelf software was not able to achieve the look that was needed for this animated series, Mainframe's in-house software team developed code to be used with the Softimage/Mental Ray software packages that we utilized on this production. It allowed us to achieve: 2-tone character shading, multi-colored contour lines (akin to animated feature films) and contour lines behind transparent objects (such as eyeglasses and windows). The result is a recognizable hand-drawn, hand-painted world of the comics and cartoons that we grew up with, but one in which the camera and characters all move about freely in a virtual three-dimensional space. It really is the best of both worlds - the beautiful vibrant 2D style of the comics and the 3D energy and dynamic of the feature."

There is recognizable style of Mainframe animation movement kind of like how Reboot characters move, only they are designed differently and then many polygons are removed to flatten the look. Lighting rigs help give the character borders a rich feature animation look. They can move in and out of shadows, with lighting that would be too expensive to do in 2D. The action can be more exaggerated, faster and fluid working with 3D camera moves, which brings it closer to the stunts and pace of the theatrical.

John Miller is evp, series development and animation at MTV. Marian Davis and John Priemer are executives in charge of development and production for MTV. Morgan Gendel is the supervising exec producer and head writer. Brian Michael Bendis wrote the pilot script and is co-exec producer, as well as a writer for Marvel's ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN comic book series. Audu Paden is a co-exec producer and Grace Benn is the series creative exec for Sony Pictures Television. Avi Arad, Rick Ungar and Stan Lee are all exec producers for Marvel Studios.

Two back-to-back episodes of MTV's SPIDER-MAN will air regularly on Fridays at 10:00 pm.

MTV Networks owns and operates the cable television programming services MTV: Music Television, MTV2, Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, TV Land, VH1, CMT: Country Music Television and Spike TV, as well as The Digital Suite from MTV Networks, a package of 13 digital services, all of which are trademarks of MTV Networks.

Sony Pictures Television produces and distributes top-rated, award-winning programming in every genre, including series, movies and family entertainment for network and cable television; first-run syndicated series; off-network syndicated programs; and theatrical releases. SPT ( is a Sony Pictures Entertainment company.