“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” opens up a universe of possibilities. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

B.C. animation team the ‘heart’ of new ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

The animators, largely based in Vancouver, ultimately came up with a creative technique that is drawing praise

The animation team behind the new movie ”Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” knew it had to be different.

“I think we all knew that the first question we’d be asked out of the gate is why are we making another ‘Spider-Man?’” said Joshua Beveridge, head of character animation at Sony Pictures Imageworks, with a laugh.

“We wanted that to be visually obvious, because there’s all kinds of things you can do in animation you can’t do in any other medium.”

After six live-action movies in 15 years featuring the webbed crusader, the team felt the new offering needed to look completely unique. A fresh animation style also suited the story, which centres on Miles Morales, a Brooklyn teen of African-American and Puerto Rican heritage who gets bitten by a radioactive spider.

The animators, largely based in Vancouver, ultimately came up with a creative technique that is drawing praise. They used computer-generated animation to craft an esthetic that looks like a mixture of traditional hand-drawn animation and CG, even figuring out a way to do hand-drawn line work on top of three-dimensional characters.

“We’re just aesthetically combining that mixed-media feel,” he said. “I think a lot of the ingredients we used have existed in other places, but this combination is new.”

Beveridge, 36, is based in Culver City, Calif., but the majority of the 180-person animation team on this film worked out of Vancouver, he said.

READ MORE: Ladysmith storefronts transformed for Sonic the Hedgehog movie

READ MORE: Film shot in Penticton set to stream across North America

“That’s where the muscle and the heart is. That’s where the whole team is. That’s where the movie was actually made,” he said.

Vancouver is booming as a graphics hotspot with about 60 animation and visual effects studios. It helps that the city is diverse, has strong art schools and is an attractive place to live, said Beveridge.

The movie pushes boundaries with its content as well as its style. Based on comic book characters created by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli, the film follows Morales as he develops superpowers including camouflage, sticking to objects and incredible hearing.

But when criminal mastermind Kingpin develops a nuclear supercollider that opens up a portal to other universes, different versions of Spider-Man are pulled into Morales’s world. An older Peter Parker appears alongside a number of new spider-heroes, including anime-inspired Peni Parker.

Beveridge said there are dramatic moments in the story that help elevate animated movies as a genre.

“Animation’s always been somewhat relegated to the kiddie table, in feeling like it’s a movie just for kids, and because Spider-Man transcends that expectation — he’s someone that more people are just aware of to begin with — we got to make our performances slightly more mature, and make it even more for everyone.”

The film won rave reviews ahead of its release on Friday. Beveridge said he’s relieved after feeling nervous about how it would be received.

“We knew we were taking risks. We wanted something different and when you’re living with those decisions for so long in secret, you end up having doubts that you’re living with as well,” he said.

“One of the lessons I’m walking away with after completing this project is: In art, if you’re living in fear, that probably means you’re onto something.”

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Not everybody lined up to vote on Saturday. In Surrey, 68,396 mail-in ballots still need to be counted for the final election tally. (Black Press Media)
North Surrey voters steer left, South Surrey voters steer right

Once again, it’s NDP orange in the city’s north end, Liberal red in the south

Hundreds of people gathered in White Rock last year to participate in the annual Remembrance Day ceremony – but due to COVID-19, the city’s ceremony this year will be online only. (File photo)
White Rock chooses ‘virtual’ Remembrance Day

Due to COVID-19 the Nov. 11 ceremony will be online only

Peace Portal Alliance Church, at the corner of King George Boulevard and 152 Street, is the extreme-weather shelter for South Surrey for the upcoming season. It is to have 14 mats available nightly for those experiencing homelessness, regardless of weather conditions. (Tracy Holmes photo)
14 beds planned for South Surrey extreme-weather shelter

Webinar tonight to field questions, share info on Peace Portal Alliance Church refuge

Fraser Health declared an outbreak of COVID-19 at Delta Hospital on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. (Grace Kennedy photo)
Outbreak over at Delta Hospital

In all, 45 cases of COVID-19 were identified and seven patients died during the outbreak

The Sunshine Band Club video posted to Youtube.
VIDEO: Surrey youth band shines light on ‘COVID blues,’ raises money for hospital

Virtual concert from Sunshine Band Club, established last March

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Some of the characters in the League of Legends video game. (Photo: na.leagueoflegends.com)
E-sports trial at B.C. high schools to start with ‘League of Legends’ team game

For fall launch, Vancouver’s GameSeta company partners with BC School Sports

Graphic on promo material for Best Buy Canada’s Tech Wonderland event.
Drive-through ‘Tech Wonderland’ coming to PNE site a few weeks before Christmas

Best Buy Canada-backed ‘holiday’ event to raise money for charity

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Aaliyah Rosa. File photo
Crown says murder of seven-year-old in Langley was planned, deliberate

The trial of KerryAnn Lewis began Monday in New Westminster

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. government photo)
Unnamed school in Fraser Health region closed due to COVID-19

Closure announced by Dr. Bonnie Henry during daily briefing

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

Most Read