Andrew Garfield & Marc Webb The Amazing Spider-Man

Andrew Garfield & Marc Webb The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans
Director: Marc Webb
Genre: Action, Thriller, Adventure
Rated: M

Synopsis:

The Amazing Spider-Man is the story of Peter Parker (Garfield), an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Sheen) and Aunt May (Field). Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Stone), and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets.

As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents' disappearance - leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Ifans), his father's former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors' alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero.

Release Date: July 04, 2012
Website: www.TheAmazingSpiderMan.com.au

About the Film

Spider-Man returns to the big screen for the untold story of Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man. In beginning a new chapter in the Spider-Man saga, it was important to the filmmakers to show a side of Peter Parker that moviegoers haven't seen before. "There are a lot of things in the Spider-Man canon that haven't been explored cinematically," says Marc Webb, who directs the new film. "The loss of Peter's parents launches Peter on his journey. I was curious about the emotional consequence of that tragic event - ultimately, this is a story about a kid who goes out looking for a father and finds himself. Then, of course, we have the Gwen Stacy saga - whether you're familiar with the comics or not, it's an extraordinary story. And, of course, there's the Lizard, one of my favorite villains in comics. All of that gave us a lot to work with."

Avi Arad, formerly the head of Marvel Studios and now a producer who has shepherded the Spider-Man films from the very beginning, notes, "Spider-Man has filled thousands of pages of comic books with hundreds of stories since he debuted fifty years ago. That's a deep vein of resources to mine as we look to continue the story of Peter Parker on the screen."

Matt Tolmach, a producer of the film who previously oversaw the Spider-Man franchise when he served as president of the studio, says, "Spider-Man is an iconic character because we all grew up relating to him, we all have a personal relationship with him. Peter Parker is what sets Spider-Man apart. He's relatable, an everyman. He's a kid who has trouble with girls, he's not popular, he's not rich and powerful…. he's just an ordinary boy. He's someone you can identify with - you can see some of yourself in Peter. And because of this, the story of Peter Parker, of Spider-Man, touches people emotionally in ways that few other characters can, and we, as filmmakers, but also as fans, feel a huge responsibility to do right by the character."

Taking the helm of The Amazing Spider-Man is Marc Webb, whose previous film, (500) Days of Summer, deftly and unblinkingly portrayed the ups and downs of a relationship. "From the very first day we talked to Marc Webb, it was clear that he brought a unique vision for Spider-Man and the universe," says Matt Tolmach. "He's been our guide throughout this process. He's someone who's shown an affinity for character and emotion both of which are the heart of any great Spider-Man story."

At the center of The Amazing Spider-Man is, of course, the story of a boy, Peter Parker. "Since we were reestablishing Peter Parker, we had to build the audience's relationship with him from the ground up," notes Webb. "In order to do that legitimately, we begin the story with Peter Parker as a seven-year-old boy. We see him before his parents left, before they handed him off to Aunt May and Uncle Ben. This allowed the audience to experience the significant emotional cues in his life."

This is a Peter Parker who has been shaped by who he is and what he has experienced. "In this movie, we wanted to explore what happened to Peter before he went to live with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May," says Avi Arad. "He is an orphan. The fact that he is an orphan is one of the most important influences on his young life, and the Spider-Man movies haven't yet delved into that. All orphan stories are ultimately about the search for parents, and I think this film explores that in an interesting way. His parents vanished in a mysterious way that made his quest for answers more complicated."

"This Peter Parker is a little different: he's still an outsider, but he's an outsider by choice," says Marc Webb. "He has a chip on his shoulder - he's the kid who rejects people before they can reject him. The humor, the sarcasm, the rebellious streak emanates from that little kid who got left behind so long ago."

"For this film, we talked a lot about Peter Parker, a boy who lost his parents at a very young age - and lost them in a way that's still a mystery to him," adds Matt Tolmach. "It leaves him with a lot of formative questions - Where am I from? Who am I? Why did my parents leave? Why did this happen? Who am I going to become? These are all the primal questions that face our hero. This angle had not been heavily explored, yet it's so critical to who Peter Parker is - this is the essence of a young man's journey. So we were incredibly excited to go down this road with the story and these characters."

"The things that are unresolved, the things we have to live with, send us down a road - and that road can make us better people or not," says Marc Webb.

To put it another way, even though Peter's experiences have left an imprint on the young man he's become, he is now a character with agency. Before her untimely passing in 2011, Laura Ziskin, who had played an integral role in shaping the Spider-Man films as a producer, said that many of Peter's troubles - including getting bitten by that fateful spider - are problems of his own making, but his strength of character and fortitude give him the power to write his own destiny. "Peter is in a place he shouldn't be when the spider bites him," she noted. "But once he has the powers, it begins a learning process for him. He is active, not reactive - he is responsible for everything that happens."

"A key part of our orchestration of the story is that everything in Peter's journey happens because of his yearning to find out about his father," says Marc Webb, concurring. "The sequence of events which leads him to OsCorp and to Dr. Connors results in his being bitten. I didn't want the spider bite to be an arbitrary occurrence, but a representation and result of his desire to fill a void."

At the same time, Peter Parker is uniquely suited for the responsibilities that his powers bring. "Peter Parker is a hero, not a superhero," says Andrew Garfield, who takes on the iconic role. "He's already good before the spider bites him. After that, he gets the power to act on what he already knows is right."

Andrew Garfield says he feels a special responsibility being the man inside the suit. "When I was younger, I sometimes felt trapped in my own skin," he says, "but we all have that. That's why this character is the most popular of all the superheroes: he is universal and uniting. The reason Spider-Man means so much to me is the same reason he means so much to everyone: he's a symbol, an imperfect person in the way that we're all imperfect, but trying so hard to do what is right and what is just and fighting for the people who can't fight for themselves. It's overwhelming to represent him - and believe me, I'm just the guy in the suit. I'm honored to be that, but Spider-Man belongs to everyone."

"The character of Spider-Man has meant a great deal to me since I was a child; my attraction to the character began early," says Andrew Garfield. "I found hope in Peter Parker's struggles and the trials he went through week in and week out in the comics, and I connected with that. I found it fascinating; there was something very real in the way Stan Lee wrote him and created him with Steve Ditko."

Andrew Garfield says that Marc Webb's vision for a Spider-Man more grounded in reality is highlighted by one of the choices: the decision that Peter Parker would design and build his own web shooters in The Amazing Spider-Man. "They're a big thing for him," says Andrew Garfield. "It was important to Marc Webb to show Peter taking an active role in his transformation into Spider-Man. It isn't just something that happens to him - he seizes the moment and does everything in his power to make the most of it."

Emma Stone plays Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker's first love - but more than that, his first real connection to the world around him. It's a very different relationship from the one that audiences might be more familiar with. "I feel like Mary Jane fell in love with Spider-Man. Gwen falls in love with Peter Parker," she explains.

The heart of the film, Emma Stone says, is the relationship between Gwen and Peter. "Marc Webb's biggest goal was working out that relationship," she says. "We're operating in a superhero universe, but that relationship has to feel grounded and real. I think the reason that so many fans of the comic books feel so protective of Gwen - or Mary Jane - is that those relationships did feel real and did feel grounded. As actors, it's nice to have that material to build from - it already feels genuine."

"The relationship between Peter and Gwen is very significant - the previous movies haven't explored this until now," says Matt Tolmach. "Gwen is a very self-assured character; she's his rival intellectually. And her father happens to be Captain Stacy and let's be honest, it's hard enough to meet your girlfriend's parents for the first time, but when he happens to be the head of the police force that's chasing you, it makes things that much more complicated. But there's an emotional honesty and partnership that's unique to their relationship. Gwen is really the only person who truly knows Peter - and because of that, there's a closeness that develops between the two of them that neither of them have with anyone else in their lives."

Peter's last link to his father is Dr. Curt Connors, his father's former partner and the only man who might have some insight - not only into what happened to Peter's father, but into why Peter's life turned out the way it did. "Peter's discovery of his father's briefcase is what leads him to OsCorp and to a complicated relationship with Connors," said Laura Ziskin. "This results in some rather dire consequences down the road." When Connors transforms into the Lizard, Peter must make choices that come very close to home.

However, as Matt Tolmach notes, the connection between Peter and Connors goes beyond the scientist's relationship to Peter's father. "They are both incomplete, one physically, one metaphorically," he explains. "Connors is an incredible character - there's something compelling and quite tragic about him. He becomes blinded by his own condition and to the repercussions of what it is that he's trying to do, and that makes for great drama."

"The Lizard, a manifestation of Dr. Connors' desire to fill a void, is one of my favorite Marvel villains of all time, because the character's story is about loss," says Avi Arad. "His alter ego, Dr. Connors, is a brilliant scientist who is totally consumed with the field of cross species genetics and regeneration, desperate to regain his missing right arm."

Rhys Ifans plays the role. "To me, the thing that sets the Spider-Man villains apart from other comic book villains is that they're human, and real, and flawed, as much as Peter Parker is," he says. "Particularly with Dr. Curt Connors, what makes him a more emotional presence in Peter's life is that he was very close to Peter's father. That makes Peter's relationship with him a very complex and emotional one."

Ifans was drawn to the film by its complexity and the emotional elements of the role: "Connors is not a villain as such, and I'm not portraying him as a villain. He does feel kind of cheated by God, and he's looking for answers in science. He is a man with genuine needs and anxieties. There's a palpable pain and pathos to him, and when he crosses the line into self-experimentation, the true tragedy begins."

Ifans prepared for the role by learning how to live as a person with one arm - becoming quite skilled at tying a tie, making coffee, and many other tasks with his right arm tied behind his back. "It's a real revelation to discover to what level that a disability can affect a person, but also how it can actually make you more deft than a person with both arms," says Ifans.

Denis Leary plays Gwen's father, Captain George Stacy. "Peter doesn't make a very good first impression on Stacy, who wonders why the dinner guest looks so disheveled," explains Denis Leary. "At the dinner table, he launches into a bit of an interrogation of his daughter's new friend, and Peter finds that a bit uncomfortable." When the conversation turns to Stacy's efforts to apprehend Spider-Man, it only increases Peter's discomfort. "Denis Leary is a great actor and has always been hilarious and a great observer of humanity," says Marc Webb. "As Captain Stacy, he got to not only inject some comedy, but a level of drama and emotional reality that was really powerful."

Martin Sheen and Sally Field join the cast as Uncle Ben and Aunt May, who raise Peter after his parents suddenly and mysteriously disappear. Sally Field says that the way Peter's parents leave makes for a slightly different relationship between Peter and his aunt than we've seen before, one that is fraught with hidden emotion. Sally Field says she put herself in May's shoes - suddenly being asked to raise a child and not knowing why or what happened. "She loves her nephew, of course, but this whole situation was thrust upon her. Nothing was explained. Peter's father left Peter with them years ago and disappeared. That impacts her relationship with Peter - it's loving, but it's very complicated," she says.

Martin Sheen says that his character, Uncle Ben, is the moral center of the movie. "In a lot of ways, Uncle Ben is Peter's hero and the motivating factor for a lot of the good things he does," he says. "He becomes an image for Peter, an image that is a reminder of what character is, what heroism is. He's a reminder that ethical behavior usually has a cost, but that cost is also an indication that it is worthy."

About the Stunts and Effects
Director Marc Webb says that exploring a new dimension of the Peter Parker story meant telling the story in a different way - a more naturalistic way. "I wanted the fun, the spectacle, the action, the rage, and the humor to feel more realistic - like you walk out on the street and you can imagine this happening," says Webb. As a result, the filmmakers chose to create The Amazing Spider-Man using practical, real-world elements whenever possible and choosing visual effects only when strictly necessary.

To achieve his goal, Marc Webb worked closely with brothers Vic and Andy Armstrong and their grown children - a renowned family of top stunt performers and coordinators and second unit directors. Andy Armstrong teamed with his son, James Armstrong, to serve as the film's stunt coordinators, and Vic Armstrong took on the role of the film's second unit director, with his son, Scott, as the second unit's stunt coordinator.

"I was very impressed that Marc Webb wanted to approach the film from a more realistic point of view," says Vic Armstrong. "For Andy Armstrong and me, that meant exploring the extent to which we moved from computer-generated action to practical stunts to increase the thrill factor."

"There is an innate sense that somehow allows us to recognise whether an action is computer-generated or if it is a real human being in motion," says Andy Armstrong. "We tried to go for practical stunts and action as much as possible, because it ups the ante for thrills and suspense."

The Armstrongs worked closely with Marc Webb on increasing the level of practical stunt work with their innovative choreography and with the design, development and construction of new tools to allow Spider-Man to swing higher, farther and with more in-camera excitement, rather than relying solely on visual effects work. "Andy Armstrong developed devices for our film that would enhance the swinging in a way that just hadn't been done before," says Marc Webb. "The level of ingenuity and engineering that the Armstrongs espoused was really incredible."

For Andrew Garfield, Marc Webb's approach meant he would prepare for the rigors of the role with a rigorous and intense training regimen, as health and fitness trainer Armando Alarcon oversaw Garfield's strength, agility, and core training, as well as nutritional monitoring. "The physical preparation was very challenging, to be sure," recalls Andrew Garfield. "For six months, Armando and I worked together six days a week. He pushed me harder than I thought I could be pushed; however, our work ethic is quite similar, so I tended to push myself as hard as he pushed me. He had a holistic approach that was invaluable in terms of my body confidence, health, strength and nutrition. We have become great friends."

Andrew Garfield also trained under the tutelage of the Armstrongs, in order to be prepared for the stunt work he would perform as Spider-Man. "Andrew Garfield trained and rehearsed with us for over three months, doing trampoline work, power core moves, perfecting basketball skills, as well as martial arts, gymnastic and parkour work, all with instruction from some of the top people in the world in each discipline," notes Andy Armstrong. "We had shot the key action sequences on video with stunt people, and we gradually integrated Andrew Garfield into the action through the training process."

"I think one of the traits which makes Spider-Man so interesting is how quickly he can moves, how fast he is," notes Marc Webb. "Spiders are tiny creatures that can move with incredible speed and efficiency, and that was important to reflect in the character. Andrew Garfield spent a lot of time studying how spiders moved, and he came up with a body language that felt spider-like. His work ethic and performance is just extraordinary - it was remarkable to watch."

The stunt training camp, at a warehouse near Sony Pictures Studios, featured replicas of several elements of buildings, walls and other environments from the film, in which the team could recreate and perfect the action sequences. "Andrew Garfield gave 200% to everything he tried. He is one of the most dedicated actors I've ever seen go through this process," says Andy Armstrong. "His willingness to try anything really was extraordinary, and he ended up doing some really gnarly action bits on the film."


About the Production

New York City has always been a key component of the Spider-Man story, and that's especially true in Marc Webb's vision for The Amazing Spider-Man. "New York is such a wonderfully engaging place if you have a mind to be engaged by it, and it can be an incredibly sad place if you're lonely and isolated," says production designer J. Michael Riva. "For Peter Parker, it's both things at different times in the movie."

The film's exteriors were largely shot on the New York street sets at Universal Studios as the first film to shoot there following the set's extensive rebuild following a devastating fire in 2008. "Luckily, the set became available for us to use for several weeks of filming at just the right time," says executive producer Michael Grillo. "Our production designer, J. Michael Riva, and his team created this world of New York City for us, so we could do stunts and physical effects, maintaining a control over explosions and crashes that are obviously much more effectively achieved than on practical locations."

Universal's new New York Street set could not represent the city authentically without the addition of years of big-city wear-and-tear to the area. Over 2,000 posts, bills and stickers were placed on light poles, mailboxes and alleyways as well as on the eight construction sites added by the production. Discarded gum lent additional realism to the faux detritus placed throughout the several city blocks, and fake pigeons were installed on a lamppost above the street. The production used over 5,000 yards of fabric, 300 venetian blinds and other materials, as well as 300 air conditioning units to dress the more than 1,454 bare windows. Eighteen set dressers worked for weeks in order to install the storefronts, art galleries, restaurants, mailboxes, newsstands and cafes on the streets. Many leading retailers teamed up with the production, loaning them materials to be used in creating the New York street scenes. These stores included Starbucks, DKNY, Manolo Blahnik, Design Within Reach, Brioni, Hugo Boss, Sephora, Patagonia, Dean & Deluca, Banana Republic, Tory Burch, and Bed, Bath & Beyond, whose window was shattered and merchandise destroyed during a particularly intense action scene.

Beyond the New York Street, the production showed off other areas of the city. One key action sequence takes place along New York's Williamsburg Bridge, a portion of which was shot on Universal's Falls Lake backlot area. When Spider-Man arrives on the scene, he makes a daring rescue. "This sequence was extremely complex - it had so many moving parts and was so physically demanding for everyone involved," recalls Webb. "It was also a key emotional beat, because it is where Peter realises the value of what Spider-Man can be, and it transforms him in a certain way."

"The construction department built a full-scale, three hundred foot section of the bridge so that our department could prepare for a complex sequence involving a raging reptile and several unfortunate cars," explains Academy Award® winner John Frazier, the film's special effects supervisor. "The Lizard is on a rampage on the bridge, chasing a character in a limousine, and he is swatting vehicles off of the bridge into the East River when Spider-Man arrives on scene to attempt a daring rescue. Our job was to choreograph and set up all of the mechanics of 'tossing' the cars by using car flippers - high pressure nitrogen floor jacks - so we could flip six cars while avoiding damage to the surrounding cars."

J. Michael Riva created an impressive series of sets for the film, on studio stages and on practical locations. "One of the things I like about the movie is that it has a lot of tension built into it, from scene to scene, as well as the stark contrast between the worlds of Queens and OsCorp. The first scenes, when seven-year-old Peter is living with his parents, are very womb-like, warm and comforting. When his family gets ripped apart and he goes to live with people he essentially barely knows, we created a home less affluent than Peter's parents' home, but still warm. Cut to OsCorp, a black glass tower high above mid-town Manhattan, and inside a huge white, sterile place where cutting edge research is being conducted with no expense spared. It's a stark contrast."

The OsCorp lab set was built on Stage 30 at Sony Pictures Studios and was one of the largest sets created for the film. Its massive footprint occupied over 14,000 square feet of stage floor and took over twelve weeks to build.

High school exteriors were shot at two Southern California high schools. For the interior sequences - which would require extensive stunt and effects work - sets were constructed on Sony's Stage 15. The largest soundstage on the lot became home to four classrooms, five hallways, a bathroom, principal's office and secretary's office. The high school library, the site of a fierce and destructive battle, required a separate stage and was comprised of almost 3,000 feet of faux books, constructed of real book covers with recyclable styrofoam inserts.

But even though a film like The Amazing Spider-Man requires movie magic, you can't beat the real thing - which is why the filmmakers wrapped production in New York City for exterior shots.

For example, beneath an elevated portion of Riverside Drive, between 130th and 135th Streets, the filmmakers shot an extensive sequence in which Spider-Man leaps underneath an elevated street, webbing the trestles 80 feet above the street and dodging traffic as he swings away from the police.

Andy Armstrong explains how it was done. "We built a traveling winch rig under the elevated roadway to travel Spider-Man on as he moves. We constructed a vehicle which is literally like a giant puppeteer rig, thirty feet high, so we can pull him along at any speed we wanted. He could achieve these giant swings, all the while dodging the traffic below."

About the Suit
Creating a new vision for Spider-Man also meant creating a new vision for how he gets around: a new suit and new web-shooters. "We were trying to create a suit that looked and felt as if Peter could make it himself, and it was important for the suit to enhance the lean physique of Spider-Man, and for him to have a rather spidery quality about him," says costume designer Kym Barrett. "I began with the idea that Peter Parker creates the spider costume in his computer. Marc Webb wanted to present an electronic world, with evidence of technology everywhere, so our Spider-Man suit needed to become part of this world. We used Andrew Garfield's physique to determine how and where the lines flowed across the body for the suit, so the lines had geometric form from any angle."

For the material of the suit, the filmmakers had an equally wide array of inspirations. "We looked at Winter Olympics athletes' suits and bicyclists' clothing as a starting point," adds Avi Arad. "Lightweight, athletic, stretchy materials which Peter could use for inspiration for his suit."

They also kept in mind that the film would be shot in 3D, and the designers looked for ways to incorporate texture that would enhance the suit for 3D audiences. "We found that we could print shadows on the fabric of the suit, and that gives the suit real density and depth on the screen," explains Kym Barrett.

Lenses for Spider-Man's mask were made by a manufacturing company that creates sunglass lenses for the military and for NASA. Coated to reduce reflection, the lenses feature a blue-tinted optical lens with a gold hexagon mirrored pattern printed on top.

The end result was impressive - especially to the man who would wear it. "The first time I saw the suit, I thought it was so cool, and Kym Barrett did an incredible job reimagining the suit while remaining true to what Steve Ditko originally drew," recalls Andrew Garfield. "The first time I put on the suit, it was kind of surreal and joyous, because you see yourself embodying something that's meant so much to you." The suit took 20 minutes for Andrew Garfield to put on for shooting, assisted by costumer Robert Moore.

Peter Parker creates mechanical web-shooters in his uncle's basement. "It fits in with our goal to make Peter's world seem real," says Webb. "Peter Parker is very much a kid of today. He wouldn't wait around for someone to invent web-shooters; he'd be on the internet, doing research and figuring out how to make them himself. He's got a head for this stuff naturally - designing the web-shooters is just the next logical step for him."

In designing the web-shooters, Kym Barrett was inspired by wide leather watchbands which had a plastic cover that snapped over the watch to protect its face. "We thought Peter would think these were perfect," says Kym Barrett. "Take out the watch and you have a great housing for the web-shooters. Snap the cover over it to hide it, and when you're walking down the street, it just looks like you're wearing a watch."

About the Visual Effects
Sony Pictures Imageworks - which previously handled VFX duties on director Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy - returns to oversee the visual effects on The Amazing Spider-Man. For this film, the work was overseen by Jerome Chen, an Academy Award®-nominated VFX supervisor who has been with Imageworks since its founding 20 years ago.

Working with director Marc Webb, Jerome Chen and the visual effects teams created a visual style that naturally blends cutting edge live-action stunt work with CG character animation and seamlessly integrates both into extensive digital environments. Imageworks created many digital characters, environments and VFX elements including: Spider-Man, The Lizard villain, OsCorp Building including spire and extensive rooftop set, New York Sixth Avenue, Mid-Town High School hallways, library, sewer tunnels beneath New York City and Spider-Man's new webs.

Jerome Chen says that Webb's new vision for Spider-Man set a new bar for the Imageworks artists. "Marc Webb had a specific vision for Spider-Man's world: an organic, naturalistic New York City, a place full of dirt, scaffolding, and steam. He wanted Spider-Man to be more physical, to really react with this environment, rather than a stylised version of the character," he says. "I loved this concept, but I knew that an organic, naturalistic Spider-Man would make the visual effects work a lot more challenging, because the CG imagery would now demand a higher level of visual sophistication. The CGI would need more textural and tonal detail in order to integrate with the photography. And, of course, the organic feel of the movie has a huge impact on how we realise our completely CG villain - who would have to feel real and be as sturdy and gritty as the rest of the picture."

Marc Webb's vision didn't just apply to the look of Spider-Man, but also to how he would move - and it would be different from what audiences might be familiar with. "What was really important to Marc Webb was that the movement was natural and physical, in the sense that a real person could do it. Because of that, there's a physicality of Spider-Man in the way he responds to gravity," says Jerome Chen. "Andy Armstrong's stunt team worked hard on suspending Spider-Man from the right geometry of wires that allowed him to swing in the correct way. We were able to mimic that - we looked at what gravity did to the real stuntmen, then simply enhanced it to give it a bigger scope."

For example, the chase sequence that takes place under the elevated portion of Riverside Drive showcases the marriage between practical stunts and visual effects. Armstrong's team started the process with practical stunt work. "We integrated that with CG for wider shots, simply because the mechanics of the truss work didn't extend far enough. We had great reference from the real movement," says Jerome Chen. Similarly, Jerome Chen's team provided CG animation on the Williamsburg Bridge sequence where practical effects were not the best solution: creating the Lizard, of course, but also some blue screen work and a CG Spider-Man when needed.

Marc Webb's previous film work - including the indie hit (500) Days of Summer - might not seem to make him a natural choice for a film with hundreds of visual effects shots, but Jerome Chen says that the film was in quite capable hands. "Marc Webb had a very clear vision for the characters and how he would handle the love story between Peter and Gwen - that's the heart of the movie. But what really impressed me about him when I first met him was that he knew, in his mind's eye, what he wanted the film to look like, and his direction to me about what the effects needed to be, the movement of the Lizard and the movement of Spider-Man, was very specific."

Jerome Chen also says that Marc Webb uses pre-visualisation (or "pre-viz") techniques in an interesting way. While many directors use pre-viz to explore, say, how much of a set should be built vs. constructed in the computer, or which camera lenses will work best for a given shot, or blocking out camera movements, Jerome Chen says that Marc Webb has another goal in mind. "It's not just technical - Marc Webb uses pre-viz creatively, to explore a whole sequence. It will show his intentions for the physicality of movement, the energy of the scene, the emotional beats, the dramatic intent. It's a very finished pre-viz and it becomes a great starting point for the scene."

Creating the Villian
Jerome Chen and his team also oversaw the CG creation of the Lizard, the villain of The Amazing Spider-Man and the most complex character ever built at Imageworks. "He's such an iconic villain from the comic books," says Jerome Chen. "And there have been so many variations - our departure point started with a beautiful sculpt done at Legacy. Our Lizard was almost nine feet tall, muscular and powerful, with a sweeping tail. The face is humanoid, which was important to provide us with a connection to the human Dr. Connors, as performed by Rhys Ifans."

New animation and rendering technology was developed at Imageworks in order to create the incredible detail of the Lizard's scales and the movement of his muscles beneath the skin. "Marc Webb wanted the Lizard's skin to have loose folds - like a Komodo Dragon - but still feel the power of the muscles moving beneath them," remarks Jerome Chen. His team spent months researching lizards, studying HD footage taken during museum and zoo trips, even to a local pet store specialising in reptiles.

Of course, the VFX team also had to ground the character in reality so that he would fit in with the rest of the film. "I was taught that the key to making an animated character believable is that the audience has to see that this character is thinking," says Jerome Chen. "And our access point was Rhys Ifans. When he's in Lizard mode, what's his thought process? What would his performance be like?"

To achieve that, the filmmakers worked with Ifans to get videotape reference for the animators. "Marc directed Rhys Ifans during the key emotive moments when the Lizard was on screen. Though the Lizard rarely speaks in the film, there are many moments where we have to read his eyes and his expression." The video reference provided powerful inspiration for Imageworks' animators as they articulated the CG Lizard's moments of subtle facial performance.

But the Lizard - as one of Spider-Man's most formidable enemies - has plenty of moments in the film where he is not so subtle. The movement style of the Lizard's physicality during the action scenes took many weeks for the animators to discover and led to a variety of techniques employed throughout the film.

One such technique involved the use of a stuntman - dressed in black to help his digital "removal" during the post process - posing as a stand-in for the Lizard during a key action sequence at Peter Parker's high school. To fully convey the illusion that Spider-Man is grappling and being tossed around by a nine-foot-tall mutated Lizard, the stuntman (who was almost seven feet tall himself!) would grapple with Andrew Garfield. Later, the stuntman was removed and the CG Lizard animated to have motion that coincided with Andrew Garfield's movements. The meshing of the real physics of the actor and the CG animation of the Lizard create a visceral illusion of Peter Parker fighting for his life.

Jerome Chen oversaw the work by the team at Pixomondo who were responsible for turning Ifans into an amputee. "Rhys Ifans wore a green sleeve to help us track where we would have to paint out his arm and paint in the background," says the VFX supervisor. Painting out the arm was the easy part - but making the small details look right was much more challenging. "For example, when the arm is removed, does the sleeve hang right and move properly against the remnant of the arm?" he says. "The fact that he's missing an arm has a huge impact on your impression of the character. It's why he goes to great lengths to pursue his creation of the serum, and why he continues to take it, even though he's losing his soul to it. It has to look right."

In addition to the CG character work, Imageworks was also required to create the daunting illusion of the city in which these characters must interact. There are two major full-CG environments in the film: a long stretch of Sixth Avenue leading up to the OsCorp Tower, and another on the roof of the OsCorp Tower itself. Both environments are the stages for the high points of the film, where Spider-Man swings through the glittering nighttime canyons of Manhattan en route to his climactic battle with the Lizard.

The Sixth Avenue environment is an extremely detailed CG construct involving hundreds of digital cars and pedestrians, plus dozens of complex buildings with elaborate room interiors - some even with flickering televisions. All these details were combined to create the illusion of a living city that Spider-Man swings through.

The OsCorp Tower roof serves as the background for Spider-Man's final battle with the Lizard, and is one of the most complicated sequences in the film in terms of visual effects. After an extensive pre-visualisation process which allowed Marc Webb to tightly design the action in terms of both fight choreography and virtual camera work, the scene was turned over for final CG animation and rendering/compositing. Dozens of full CG shots are intercut with live action photography of Andrew Garfield and Denis Leary in a gripping action sequence.

About the 3D Photography
The Amazing Spider-Man was shot in 3D, and for the filmmakers, it is a key choice. "3D isn't right for every movie, but 3D was made for Spider-Man," says Avi Arad. "It is another way we have of keeping the audience immersed in the storytelling. You see the world through his eyes and you feel like Spider-Man - the exciting moments are even more exciting. But what might be surprising is that 3D makes the intimate moments more intimate as well - I can think of some scenes that are quite emotional that are even more emotional in 3D. It's a perfect choice for this movie."

"We wanted to put people in Peter Parker'

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