CG ANIMATION MEETS REALITY IN SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME
CG ANIMATION MEETS REALITY IN SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME
Marvel franchise’s latest movie to hit the stage is Spider-Man: Far From Home and it does not disappoint. Not only does it have a strong storyline, but also excellent cinematography and some amazing visual effects.
The animation team responsible for Spider-Man: Far From Home had their work cut out for them to turn the animated sequences into a reality. Since the movie sees Peter Parker going on a European tour with his school mates and the lovely MJ, the team had to go global as well.
At the helm of the ship was Janek Sirrs of the highly acclaimed and ground-breaking The Matrix. He connected with the team twice a week during post-production to ensure that everything was done just right. With his vast experience with MCU, he was able to guide the Spider-Man ship into a safe harbor. Another hurdle that the team had to face was to ensure that no leaks were made about Avengers: Endgame during the production. For this purpose, the entire team was banned from sending any images or email. Most of the team worked without any internet access. The IT infrastructure was upgraded to make sure that all the projects being worked on were fully secure.
For the purpose of authenticity, extensive photography was done at several locations in and around Europe so that the animation team would not have to depend on artificial lighting or sounds. It was easier to develop CGI from real locations with natural lighting. Even though edits were continuously going on, the team was quick to work the edits into the shots.
THE STARK JET AND ITS LANDING
For those of you who still haven’t watched the movie, this is a spoiler alert. From here on out, we will be discussing things in detail. So, it will be much better for you if you go and see the movie first, then read on.
For the Stark Jet, the Marvel Studio gave the animation team some concepts to work with. They still did their research about private jets and how different sorts of materials like dirt affected them so that they could show the jet as realistically as possible. When Peter Parker’s school tour moves to London, his classmates are witness to the Stark Jet’s crash. In the beginning, the animation team produced a basic layout simulation that was done with basic geometry so that they could observe whether the scale was right and if the whole action sequence was in the scene or not. Once they had ensured this, they simulated the luxury jet. The entire sequence was done in two phases. The first phase was when the surface of the jet breaks and the second phase was the simulation of the explosion. Some real-world elements were used like the fire and the embers. The rest of the entire scene is CG based so that the filmmakers could have total say over the scene and could change it any way they liked.
Even the grassy area where the jet was supposed to land was CG animated to make the aftermath of the destruction as real as possible.
THE DRONES THAT CAME FROM ABOVE
If you want your video animation company to look real then you have to take care of the scale. It should not look out of place in the scene. Communicating a sense of scale is easy in normal environments, as you have the atmosphere and other buildings or cars or anything else that the public can relate to. But in outer space it becomes difficult and the animation team faced a lot of problems. They had to go through a lot of satellite imagery so they could get some reference for the satellite’s design and how it would all look in the scenes. They developed a very detailed model of the satellite and a texture map so they could get the scale right.
The tip of the satellite contains a door that opens up to show drones swarming out of it. The animators had the arduous task of showing the drones to be intelligent instead of flying out of the door. The team decided to use a particle simulation with some additional techniques to form a pattern. In addition to the CGI effects, they also had to come up with some light. Outer space has only one source for light and that’s the Sun. They decided to use the reflected light from the Earth for additional lighting.
This was by far the most difficult scene to animate and one that almost everybody missed. In the film, the Start Jet is shown to land in a tulip field in the Netherlands. What most people don’t know, cannot know, is that the scene was shot in the United Kingdom. Almost all of the scenes are fully CG. The only real elements in those scenes are Peter Parker and Happy Hogan played by Tom Holland and the great Jon Favreau respectively. The team was assigned the task of simulating the entire field to look like it was full of tulips and make sure that the wind motion was properly portrayed as the jet landed.
It took the team a long time to figure this one out. First, they had to render a huge amount of polygons in an effective manner. The background was simulated pre-cache while the hero’s movements and the environment were simulated in real-time. One tool that the team used for their animated video production was Gaffer.
Once the scene was complete, the tulip fields looked as real as ever. The team analyzed the rows and columns that they would have to simulate in relation to the actors and their place. Another thing was that the camera would cut back and forth for the dialogue. The team developed eight different tulips for each color and they were hand-modeled, textured and crafted. Once the development was done, the team randomly scattered them around the field. In the end, the field had around 2 million tulips on it. They used an algorithm for the placement so that they could change it if they wanted to.
Sarah Jay is an animator who has worked extensively on all forms of animation; from traditional hand-drawn work to 3D projects. She has worked on intricate and complex projects for firms in various industries. She has created a state of the art animations for films, video games, and commercials.
An early interest in cartoons led him to his current position as the Animation Director of Vidnado company. She has authored various articles and blog posts about animation and visual effects among other topics. His talent has been recognized all over the globe and she is regularly called for consultation due to his vast experience and highly developed skills.