SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

CAUTION: Contains spoilers.

Luma worked on 11 sequences on Jon Watts’s Spider-Man: Homecoming totalling just under 500 shots between the Los Angeles and Melbourne studios over the course of a year. As big fans of one of Marvel most loveable superheros, we were thrilled to work on this new and exciting take on Spider-Man. Learn all about our work on some of the major sequences in the film, including the big ATM fight sequence featuring an alien gravity gun and the suburban chase sequence inspired by the famous backyard scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

DIRECTOR

Jon Watts

STUDIO

Columbia Pictures
Marvel Studios
Pascal Pictures

VFX STUDIO 

Luma

Crime Fighting


A rookie Spider-Man goes out and about in the neighbourhood on his first adventure trying to stop petty crime: he’s clumsy, slightly awkward and flies from location to location leaving situations worse off than he found them. Luma created and animated a full CG Spider-Man, keeping in line with the comedic undertone. The lighting team created eight different light rigs to match all the different environments that Spider-Man swings through: the team utilized on set lidar, location captured HDRIs, plate photography and on set reference photography as the foundation. Lighters had to refine on a shot-by-shot basis to craft ‘beauty lighting’ to further enhance and integrate the digital elements into the plates. Of course, throughout execution it was absolutely necessary to achieve a photo-real look.

ATM

Spider-Man suits up and heads into the city looking to fight crime, where he spots four robbers wearing Avengers masks breaking into an ATM using alien technology weapons. Luma received plate photography with stunt performances captured in camera, but it was up to the Luma crew to build upon what was filmed and help editorial drive the sequence for continuity and dramatic effect. The crew did everything from painting out wrinkles on Spider-Man’s suit,  to augmenting Spider-Man’s plate performance, to adding fully CG fabricated shots.

A full CG Spider-Man was created and animated for various stunts that couldn’t be practically performed. Animation Supervisor Raphael A. Pimentel went on set for the ATM motion capture shoot with Jon Watts and Janek Sirrs while they directed Tom Holland’s performance, and the client also provided Luma with solid previs, which gave the animation team a good gauge of how the sequence should play out. The pace of the ATM sequence is incredibly fast and the underlying tone is comical, so staying on beat was key for the animation team.

Luma created CG weaponry including the gravity gun, shot gun and Spider-Man’s webbing. Concept Artist Nicolas Pierquin developed the concept and worked with CG Supervisor Andrew Zink and VFX Supervisor Brendan Seals on the conceptualization process. The aim was to create a rudimentary and alien-like weapon with parts that looked as if they were taken from a junkyard. The CG model had articulated arms that move and react to the energy that the FX department created. The FX was designed and executed in Houdini, and involved particles being admitted and attracted towards the target, whether that be Spider-Man or the ATM. The team drew inspiration from Aurora Borealis for the wispy fluid movement of vibrant colours.

The ATM boxes are knocked over and one of the thieves points the gravity gun at Spider-Man, which causes all the money next to him to get attracted as well. Marvel wanted this scene to have a comical element, and what ensues is a bit of a tongue and cheek action with wide angle shots that make it look like a fishbowl of swirling money. Luma’s FX team created hundreds of twenty dollar bills varying from crispy clean, wrinkled and dirty bills.

Fun fact: on average, each shot had a total value of $2,000 flying around—cha-ching!

Suburban Chase

VFX Supervisor Kevin Souls was on set in Atlanta during the filming of the suburban chase sequence, where Spider-Man runs through backyards chasing a van carrying alien technology. A combination of plate photography with and without a Spider-Man costume was shot in various locations on rooftops and backyards, along with drone photography to capture the running sequences. A lot of scenes were shot during the day and Luma was tasked with implementing a day-for-night treatment as well as adding in a full CG Spider-Man. “We added additional shots and created virtual builds of the neighborhood that could be inserted into the photography, so that Spider-Man could jump from a plate building to a virtual photography building and then back again,” says Kevin.

Spider-Man’s web attaches to the moving van and is dragged throughout the neighborhood. On set, the crew shot both a stunt double on a mat getting dragged by a van travelling at 30mph and a van travelling at full speed without a stunt double. Luma used the latter portion of shots and added a virtual Spider-Man—giving the crew more control and the ability to increase the dramatic effect. In some shots, Luma also replaced the vehicle with a CG van to tinker with the timing.

Vulture Grab & Lake Rescue

The Vulture drops Spider-Man into a lake and is rescued by Iron-Man. The scene in which Spider-Man begins to sink in the lake was actually shot in a pool in Atlanta with a stuntman in a Spider-Man suit sinking underwater surrounded by a photographic parachute. Luma was tasked with creating a full CG environment for this, including the lake and bridge with cars driving past.

Luma received Digital Domain’s Vulture Mark I asset and rigged it specifically for this sequence. The animation team dealt with the challenge of animating the weighty wing-suit, while also making sure it was dynamic enough to fight with a swift and speedy Spider-Man. “We like to ground our characters in real world physics, so our animators used a variety of tools to track speed, gravity and archs: it’s easier to bend the rules once you understand them”, says Raphael.

Fun fact: Vulture is traveling at a whopping 208 mph/335 km during his ascent with Spider-Man!

Damage Control

The Damage control sequence was shot at night with two stuntmen. Luma recreated many of the photographic shots in full CG including the Vulture, Spider-Man, truck and environment. The team also created the portal—the alien technology that allows Spider-Man and Vulture to travel through the roof of the truck. The sequence also presented a 3D challenge for the animation aspects of the scene, because it was a close up and constrained fight: the crew had to ensure that Spider-Man looked weighty and in control, while also matching Tom Holland’s unique performance.

“The most challenging thing was the mix of elements: we had everything from the green  screen atop of the truck to the real photography to full virtual versions of the environment, truck and characters. We also had to do full day-to-night conversions to essentially make it look as seamless as possible so that the audience couldn’t notice the difference between the three sets,” says Kevin. In order to make the shots as dynamic as possible, Luma re-animated the sequence to enhance the excitement of the fight.

Vulture Returns & Vulture Landing

 Vulture picks up a weapon thinking it’s the gravity gun and points it in the direction of Bryce in retaliation for his disrespect. The consequence? Oh, just a blast of a beam of ripples that instantly disintegrates his skin and clothing. “The challenge of the disintegration effect was staying in line with the tone of the film to not make it too horrifying, even though it was a close up death scene”, says VFX Supervisor Brendan Seals. A few iterations of bulging eyeballs and melting skin led the team to the idea that the quicker Bryce turned into ash and started the disintegration process, the less horrifying it would be. The FX team used an underlying animated and match moved digi double and developed multiple versions of Bryce to execute the sequence. The laser beam immediately calcifies Bryce and turns him into rock before he disintegrates into ash. Luma converted his volume to a mathematical strand volume, which took away from the look of dissolving flesh and made it look other-worldly.

Luma also created a full CG Vulture and Vulture platform at the start of the film. Brendan Seals and Andrew Zink discussed the initial concept artwork with Janek Sirrs and Luma built upon material handed from a previous vendor of Vulture’s character: the asset team enhanced the model with textural refinements and built Vulture’s shader network to work it into the pipeline. The fur around Vulture’s collar was created after developing a fur FX cache that simulated wind blowing through the fur that could be utilized through multiple shots. From there, the animation crew brought the Vulture to life as he swoops into the lab in a dramatic entrance.

“On the day-to-day, it’s easy to get lost in the motions, but I’m often reminded of how lucky I really am to have the opportunity to work on this project with such an iconic and legendary character!”

-Andrew Zink (CG Supervisor)

Oh I was just um… Looking at… Porn.

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