Spider-man into the spider-verse is no ordinary animated movie. It’s no ordinary spider-man movie either. It packs multiple characters from different universes into a seamless story and it features an innovative eye grabbing animation style. It’s that dedication to the animation a style we have never really seen before that puts spider-verse in a category all its own let’s start with a few jaw-dropping numbers about the production the film had 177 animators on staff at one point more than twice the typical animated film to put that in perspective. The original Toy Story at just 27 animators.
It took one week to animate just one second of footage. It usually takes a week for four seconds and it actually took them one year to get just 10 seconds they were happy with. very cool!
And the total shot count on spider-verse is 2 to 3 times higher than other animated films. Each year animated films seem to look more and more like real life, for spider-verse instead of making the animation photorealistic the creator’s wanted the movie to stand out on its own as something new for viewers just as they were being introduced to a new spider-man in Miles Morales while at the same time sticking as much as they could to traditional print comic-book style as head of character animation Josh beverage put it don’t emulate reality and don’t make it a cartoon to accomplish this they used a number of different techniques that make spider-verse a groundbreaking film.
One of the most noticeable differences involves frame rate animated films are typically 24 frames per second and creating a different image for each frame is known as animating on ones spider-verse broke the mold and animated much of the movie on twos as well meaning they kept some of the images on screen for two frames which makes the animation feel, as the producers describe it crunchy each character’s pose lasts longer and is much more like here when crowler is chasing miles through the alley you can see examples of animating on twos in some of the original Disney films the spider-verse animators alternated between on twos and on once depending on the nature of the scene they could make miles seem fast or skilled in some shots on ones and struggle in others on twos sometimes he would be on twos while other characters were on ones when they’re swinging through the forest miles is on tubes because he’s clumsy while Peter B Parker is on ones because he’s more skilled this subtly helped illustrate how miles was slowly becoming more comfortable with his powers each character’s detailed animation style helped to bring out his or her personality.
Another major technique was how they chose not to use motion blur a CGI trick which most new films used to soften a movement to make it seem more real instead they used an old-school technique called a smear this was used a lot in early cartoons to create the sense of motion if you look at a single frame you’ll notice things like multiple limbs to create the illusion of movement here Gwen is playing the drums and you can see multiple hands and drumsticks and here when Myles has his cape ripped off his back I think is cool spider-man doesn’t wear a cape you can see multiple arms in some frames here’s an example of one of the first cartoons to use motion smearing the 1942 short called the Dover boys at pimento University so those are some of the things that they borrowed from older animated films but there’s plenty of new innovations to some things they borrowed from comic books but we’ve never seen them in a movie basically the entire movie is a comic book that moves co-director Phil Lord said if you freeze any part of the movie at any time it will look like an illustration with hand-drawn touches and all there are even moments in the film when hand drawn still images pop up in the shots replace the computer animation like this shot when miles is running through the streets of New York and he leaps off a taxi and they layered 2d ink lines on top of the 3d art to give the characters more of a hand-drawn look if you look at a comic book you may have noticed a common error where the ink is misprinted the filmmakers decided to use this misprint style in the film to create a depth of field instead of blurring the background when something is in focus the colors align and are crisper they use the technique called halftone 8 which uses dots to create colors and gradients shadows were created with hatching or crisscross lines legendary Marvel artists Jack Kirby was known for his abstract dots or kirby crackle which create the illusion of energy the film references and uses the effect multiple times when the portal opens and when miles is spray painting there are action lines to show movement and they used comics signature onomatopoeia for words on the image to frequently represent sounds in motion comic panels made out of webbing show montages and background action because there are six different spider people that could also play with multiple animation styles in one film they actually studied manga Japanese comics when designing the surface of the robot Spidey both penny and spider pig have exaggerated anime and cartoonish movements that stand out compared to Miles his world CG supervisor Michael Lasker says spider-man noir was the most stylized character and was an extra challenge since he was drawn in only black and white but required detailed textures and shading hey fellas this isn’t even black and white where’s that wind coming from we’re in a basement animator Nick Kondo tweeted that this one scene involving all of the spider people was the most technically challenging for him taking two months to get right what each spider person had in common was that they were always kept low to the ground forming acute angles with their limbs the attention to detail is everywhere backgrounds like new york city streets were studied closely to get them as accurate as possible and if you look closely you can find multiple stanley’s inserted in certain frames all of these techniques combine to make a movie that has stood out among not just the animated films of 2018 but perhaps of all time.