“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

Colwood art centre shuts its doors indefinitely

Board members look for new location when feasible, continue online

Saanich looks to help restaurants increase capacity with outdoor seating

District working to ensure restaurants can make the most of summer weather, mayor says

Greater Victoria guide dog walk turns to virtual physical challenge

Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides is May 31 with an online twist

Study looks at feasibility of Vancouver Island abattoir

South Island Prosperity Partnership funds study looking at local meat processing

BC Ferries losing up to $1.5 million each day as pandemic tanks ridership

The company does not qualify for the wage subsidy

Chilliwack school board censures trustee Barry Neufeld after controversial Facebook post

Board chair issues statement on censure but little else regarding Facebook post controversy

Twenty-nine of Canada’s 48 national parks to reopen to day-use visitors June 1

All national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas have been closed for weeks

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

JK Rowling publishes first chapters of new story online

Book will be a fairy tale for kids and benefit those particularly affected by the pandemic

Tahsis opens its gates to visitors to save local economy

Seasonal local businesses that rely on tourism hope to survive despite drop in tourist numbers

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

Island city cancels plan for homeless camp; exploring alternative option

The plan heard strong objection from neighbouring residents and businesses

Most Read