spider-man into the spider-verse featurette

There’s no question that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse looks unlike any feature animated film that we’ve ever seen. Its effortless blending of traditional hand-drawn techniques with cutting-edge CG animation creates an eye-popping movie that can only be compared to, well, art. And that’s the intention of the filmmakers.

“One thing we wanted to do with this movie was bring the hand of the artist back, bring line drawings back into it,” visual effects supervisor Danny Dimian says in the latest Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse featurette released by Sony. “Basically bring more of the art back into it.” But it’s more than just scribbling a few more lines and dots onto the finished product. Watch the behind-the-scenes video below to find out how the team built brand new technology to animate Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse Featurette

“[We decided] that we were going to prioritize good taste over accuracy,” head of animation Josh Beverage says in the featurette. “And accuracy is one of those things that computers do really well, and people are better at good taste. Sometimes having things miss a line or feel slightly imbalanced is appealing and adds to the design.”

One of those imperfections was bringing back comic book “line drawings,” which are the thin lines on faces that signal different facial expressions. The advent of CG animation has all but erased these lines from animated films, but the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse animators were determined to bring them back for the film. In doing so, they had to build a rig and map out every single expression — something that required them to build a whole new software (which Sony recently made available free online). But it was worth the effort. “What we got from it was a performance that was incredibly nuanced and beautiful,” production designer Justin K. Thompson says.

The Spider-Verse filmmakers have a complicated relationship with the computers that enabled them to make this stunning film. “Computers are too perfect and that’s one of those things that felt sterile,” Beverage said. By bringing their hand-drawn expertise to the film and using that to create a new technology, however, they made a true piece of art. “[They] had so much more design in it because there’s all these little misregisterings, little misalignments, and contacts aren’t absolutely perfect,” Beverage added. “The imperfect is charming, life’s imperfect.”

This featurette comes a week before the 2019 Oscars ceremony, and is likely part of Sony’s concerted effort to win Spider-Verse its (much deserved) animation Oscar. But it’s clips like these that make me more excited for animation students who could get inspired by this film than any awards buzz.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is currently playing in theaters.

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