Fin­land Flour­ishes

Animation Magazine - - International -

Nordic na­tion’s an­i­ma­tion blos­soms on the in­ter­na­tional stage as the na­tion cel­e­brates a hun­dred years since its first use of the art form. By Peter Schave­maker.

For The Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man 2, which re­unites di­rec­tor Marc Webb with stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone and opened May 2, an­i­ma­tion su­per­vi­sor Dave Schaub says the real chal­lenge with the char­ac­ter from an an­i­ma­tion per­spec­tive was to make him move as real as pos­si­ble by ap­ply­ing real-world physics to ev­ery shot.

Proper ap­pli­ca­tion of grav­ity is the best ex­am­ple, says Schaub, who works at Sony Pic­tures Image­works. “We’ve been re­ally hell-bent on mak­ing the physics right, so if he’s swing­ing on the web and he re­leases, he doesn’t have a Wile E. Coy­ote mo­ment — he’s not fly­ing — grav­ity needs to kick in and, when it does, it’s a re­ally spe­cific ac­cel­er­a­tion de­fined by physics.”

Schaub says the team on this movie would use sim­u­la­tions in a pro­gram they called “Doc­tor Grav­ity” to check the physics. But ed­u­cat­ing an­i­ma­tors is the most ef­fec­tive way to get good re­sults. As such, he runs a class called “Physics for An­i­ma­tors” that es­chews a lot of math for a more vis­ual ap­proach.

But physics alone isn’t al­ways enough for a su­per­hero, who has to look good as he swings and fights his way through the city. “We want to make sure that ev­ery frame has an in­ter­est­ing-look­ing pose and that ev­ery­thing about it looks like Spi­der-Man and that any frame you grab could ideally be a movie poster,” he says.

Those poses can’t be hit gra­tu­itously, though, and the an­i­ma­tors re­ferred fre­quently to ex­ten­sive footage shot of stunt per­former Wil­liam Spencer do­ing Spi­der-Man moves on wires.

For Elec­tro, whose body glows with a swarm of elec­tric en­ergy, all the close-up shots were based on ac­tor Jamie Foxx’s per­for­mance. “We did a soft track on his face so that it’s re­ally the Jamie Foxx pho­tog­ra­phy for all the close up work and then an­i­ma­tors lit­er­ally tracked to a high level of fi­nesse the move­ment of the face, so that when ef­fects were ap­plied down­stream we’d get the skin and all the vein de­tail on the sur­face — and un­der the sur­face as well — so that stuff was slid­ing over the in­ter­nal struc­ture.” That took a team of an­i­ma­tors work­ing around the clock to get done ac­cu­rately enough that the ef­fects’ teams work on the glow and elec­tric­ity would be prop­erly reg­is­tered.

The Green Goblin also had a CG dou­ble that turned out so well that di­rec­tor Webb was able to cut from footage of ac­tor Dane DeHaan in cos­tume to the dig­i­tal ver­sion with­out it be­ing in any way no­tice­able, says Schaub. The Rhino was a char­ac­ter whose de­sign changed through the process of try­ing to an­i­mate it, Shaub says. “We re­al­ized we needed to make the legs more sub­stan­tial and just kind of mas­saged the de­sign into be­ing through a process of an­i­ma­tion and ended up with some­thing Marc re­ally liked.”

This ar­ti­cle first ap­peared in longer form on­line at­i­ma­tion­

Sleep­ing Beauty,



Alice in Malef­i­cent,


“It took six months to sculpt him and get the right pro­por­tions, and then mak­ing sure we had a mus­cle layer and on top of that a fat layer. We were sim­u­lat­ing many dif­fer­ent kinds of skin be­cause if you look across Godzilla’s body, it’s cov­ered with around 10 dif­fer­ent types of skin thick­nesses.”

MPC used Maya as the base soft­ware along with ZBrush for mod­el­ing, Mari for tex­tur­ing and Kali (its pro­pri­etary de­struc­tion sim­u­la­tion tool) through the Katana light­ing in­ter­face. In fact, Kali was up­graded and given a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant in­cre­men­tal im­prove­ments to make photo-real de­struc­tion.

In ad­di­tion, all of the mus­cle and skin slid­ing tools were plug-ins done in-house to cus­tom­ize the work, “and mak­ing sure we could pipe­line and stream­line that. These are heavy as­sets to sim­u­late and to ren­der. It takes be­tween eight and 12 hours just to com­pute all the dy­nam­ics of the mus­cles and the fat and the skin.”

As for the MUTOS, they were orig­i­nal monster de­signs. In sharp con­trast to Godzilla, they are sim­ple, slick and black. “They are al­most like in­sects, which is what Gareth wanted to stay away from. We ac­tu­ally used bats as ref­er­ence for the wings. They are made of sharp lines and an­gles, and skin that is whale-like. But as soon as they started in­te­grat­ing shots into the movie they started to lose some of the strong graphic qual­ity through the black­ness. So we had to do quite a bit of shot de­vel­op­ment to ad­just fea­tures and length so they reg­is­tered bet­ter.”

Rovio’s An­gry Birds Toons

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