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New animation techniques used in The Amazing Spiderman 2

With the revamp of the Spiderman franchisee and the release of The Amazing Spiderman, new standards were set for the Hollywood animation and special effects industry. The 2014 sequel of the movie gave us three new villains along with the creative opportunity to take Spiderman stunts to new heights. In this iteration, Peter Parker has become proficient in his swinging skills and is somewhat of a thrill seeker, swinging through the city canyons and enjoying the adrenaline rush of leaping from tall buildings and free falling until the last possible second before firing his digitally enhanced web shooters.

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Director Mark Webb was particularly sensitive about making sure that the physics remains grounded and believable. To meet that directive, special tools were created by the development team to assure that the gravity and other physical properties remained in check. Wherever possible, if exaggerations were made, the tools served as a guide to compensate or counter the action to make sure that everything remains in balance.

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Artistic inspiration came from the comic book illustrations, which are an endless source of material in the Marvel archives. The real challenge was to put those poses into motion. Not just stringing a series of them together, but making sure that each pose was purposeful and the transitions were motivated by the actions at hand. This is where the movement studies carried out by stunt professionals came in handy. Animators used these references as a guide, picking up on physical cues and extrapolating subtleties to broader performances. This process also inspired new actions that hadn’t been seen before, like the ‘overhand scramble’a maneuver that Spiderman uses to accelerate himself up the web during chase sequences to make sure he’s always gaining on his opponent.

Animation also played an important role in scenes where audiences would assume that they were looking at practical photography, like the final stand-off with Electro where Spiderman is completely animated throughout the scene, including the close-up performances. This gave the director the flexibility to add additional shots well after principle photography was complete.

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Equally important was the muscle animation. Silhouettes and volumes were animated to specific lighting conditions for each shot so that the contours of the sculpt were picked up in the specular areas of the render, just like in the comic book artwork, where the muscle shapes are so clearly and artistically defined in dramatic lighting. A simulation pass added jiggle to the mass so that they resonated realistically in response to both internal and external forces. The new Spiderman suit also featured more wrinkle so that the suit design was much looser than in previous iterations.

Tell us your favourite scenes and stunts from The Amazing Spiderman 2.

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