It's been two weeks since the epic launch of Marvel's Spiderman No Way Home trailer and the internet is still going crazy. We're not surprised since Tom Holland's portrayal of Spiderman is universally loved - both in his solo movies as well in the Avengers.
Spiderman No Way Home is set to release on 17th Dec 2021, following the Eternals and Shang Chi, bringing the total number of MCU films released in 2021 to 4.
With this high frequency of films being pumped out by Marvel, not including the Disney+ series, it is easy to overlook how much effort goes into bringing our wildest imaginations of Stan Lee's creations to the big screen.
From set design, stunt training and most importantly visual effects - it is estimated that the MCU to date has cost almost $5 billion USD to produce.
Today we turn back the clock and pay homage to Tom Holland's solo debut film, Spiderman Homecoming by looking at some of the ways CGI was used to enhance the viewer's experience.
In video production, CGI (a.k.a computer-generated imagery), is commonly used interchangeably with VFX (visual effects), which is the process of integrating live-action footage with CGI.
We've Come a Long Way
Before we get into the CGI techniques used in Spiderman Homecoming, we need to pay homage to the movie that started it all - Iron Man (2008). In this film, Jon Favreau worked with Stan Winston to build a physical replica of Iron Man's Mark 1 suit before sending it over to The Embassy to have its motion captured.
Spiderman Just Became Spiderman
The story of Homecoming is about Peter Parker's journey to becoming Spiderman, getting used to his newfound abilities and building his confidence.
As a result, the challenge posed to creatives was to make him as human as possible, flaws included. Thankfully the team was able to tap into Tom Holland's natural gymnastic skills for a detailed motion capture process, including stumbling and being unsure of his footing.
Credit for this goes to Imageworks, who was able to motion capture Tom Holland's actions and create a computer-generated version of Spiderman that was convincingly real.
Similar to Spiderman, the movie's villain Vulture was also using his equipment for the first time. His gear was bulky and heavy, meaning that an ordinary human wearing it would naturally be slowed down.
In addition to that, directors wanted the equipment to have a more steampunk/military feel. That was a key consideration as Imageworks took references from jetpacks and other one-man flying machines to create what we see on screen.
The end result? Imageworks slowed down all the animations used with the Vulture to ensure that his actions represented how one would move in real life.
This reminds us that great CGI is not about making movements or a scene perfect, but as realistic as possible.
That Ship Scene
Finally, we take a look at one of the more iconic scenes in the film - Spiderman holding a splitting ship together, reminiscent of Tobey Mcguire's Spiderman preventing a train from going off the rails in Sony's Spiderman 2.
In this scene, Digital Domain used lidar to capture a real-life Staten Island ferry and combined it with a real one on set in order to create a digital version. (Yup, the one you see in this scene is a digitally created version. Mindblowing right?)
Nothing But Appreciation
These are just 3 among many scenes that animators and artists spend hundreds of hours creating using CGI. The amount of work that goes into creating 20 seconds of magic on our screens is intense, and for that, we have nothing but appreciation to show for them!
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