Saturday, May 3, 2014

Animation in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The hype is on for "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" from Marvel Pictures and Columbia Pictures, and as part of that full-court press effort, we have some looks behind the scenes that are of particular interest to animation fans.

Even in live-action pictures, animation can play a huge role. It has long been that way, with a classic example being "Mary Poppins" way back in the 1960s and many films before and since.

Director Marc Webb, as the featurette notes, thought it very important to keep the physics of Spider-Man's movements realistic. In essence, this is the entire purpose of animation, to blend the fantastic with the normal to create a seamless transition between the mundane and the impossible. This provides for some stunning sequences as we swoop through city streets propelled along by Spider-Man's webs. Animation Supervisor David Schaub narrates, and he knows what he's talking about.

Films like "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" are great canvases to paint the latest animation techniques on screen. Perhaps films like this will inspire some audience members to pursue animation later in life.

There is some great insight into how minutely they design the characters' costumes and how the lighting plays an important role as well. Fortunately, they do not belabor the green-screen process but add a little detail to the reality of creating all those soaring stunts that are made to look like just part of Spider-Man's life.

It's particularly interesting to see how closely they can mimic life now, to the point where it is possible to eliminate the human actor entirely in many scenes, even for close-ups. There are many sequences in the film where you will have a hard time guessing whether it is actor Andrew Garfield standing (or swinging) there, or just a mass of pixels. The intersection of major motion pictures and the pure graphics of video games is fast approaching, much quicker than many people may think.


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