Meet the Artist: Spencer Cook

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Old 05 May 2007   #31
Hi Spencer, I had always wanted to ask this question to the people that made spiderman magic possible.

You mentioned you are not the digital modeler, still I was hoping you might to able to help me retrieve the answer from the actual person if you please

How do you do the spiderman webbing on the costume ?
It's so perfectly wrapped around with almost no distortion !

Thank you
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Old 05 May 2007   #32
Questions

Hi Spencer,

I was wondering if there were any sequences that the director demanded which were too difficult to pull off and were dropped because of technical limitations, or would you say that you've met even the most outrageous demands?

My second question is about the CG Spiderman and Sandman? How many animation controls each do they have approximately, and how long did it take for rigging them?

Thirdly, how long did it take to render the most complex scene in the movie? Amongst the characters, I'm assuming that with Sandman's complex shaders, he would have taken the longest to render. Whats the size of the renderfarm?

Finally, What were the specs of the Workstations the team was working on? Despite working on high end workstations, were there any scenes that may have crashed the workstations while working?
 
Old 05 May 2007   #33
Hi,

Just one simple question :
where can we see the work of E. J. Krisor

His drawings for the movie are very impressive
(really great)

Felicitations

Thank you
 
Old 05 May 2007   #34
some questions (well ...quite a few!)

hi Spencer

thanks for taking the time out to answer the questions put forth to you. I have a few questions myself:

1. In Spidey3 alot of the animation was more flamboyant than the previous 2 films. By that I mean there are wilder camera angles & more extreme motions in characters in the 3rd film than there are in the first. Have you found you can push the limits of what an audience can expect to see on screen and what a supervisor can 'permit' to be seen on screen between the first film and the 3rd? Have you found that feedback from initial audience screenings has been alot more understanding of what they see compared to say ten years ago?

2. Would love to know about the webbing around spideys suit myself lol!! From some of the previs stuff on imageworks I'm guessing its a displacement map to pull the detail from the final tesselated model?

3. Watching Imageworks birth-of-sandman-making-of video clip on the website still puts my jaw on the table and I've lost count of how many times I've been to the cinema just to see that part of the film. The emotion in the character is truly superb and I was wondering how it felt to you as animation director/supervisor when the final shot was put together - did it strike the same chord with you as Sam Raimi intended because personally it put a lump in my throat, especially where the character collapses into a heap for the first time then later on tries to grasp the necklace with the pic of his daughter in it.

4. What kind of animation is your favourite personally? Is there anything you've seen where you've thought "thats a really original piece of work" (big or small scale). My current fave is the stunning work on the rigs for transformers and I really would love to see how they tackled alot of that.

5. You mention you have used Maya for all your animation. I'm a Maya user myself but play with Softimage XSI in my spare time. the enhancements I've seen in Softimage XSI lead me to think that its by far and away the best package in getting high end effects (specifically secondary motion of hair, fur and cloth on characters) out quickly and I'm looking at switching. Is there anything in Maya you think "bloody hell I really wish it could do that more effectively" Do you or the team use XSI at all in any of your projects at your current place of work?

6. I've seen alot of muscle-based simulations now on various films. Are they easy enough to work with when doing the animation (ie: realtime feedback) on your characters or is this something that is simulated afterward? I watched a making-of on the hulk and it was interesting to see that alot of this is cluster blendshapes in xsi then I watch that vid clip on superman returns and they're using muscle simulations. Which do you prefer as a all-rounded approach to tackling motion on characters?



sorry for the tirade of questions there!
cheers
anthony

Last edited by anthonymcgrath : 05 May 2007 at 08:00 AM.
 
Old 05 May 2007   #35
Hello Mr. Spencer. I hope you're doing fit and healthy

I have no questions but rather a much difficult request.
Whenever you meet them, remember to give a special thanks to everyone(again) who pulled in any sort of effort in the "Birth of sandman" .Effects crew, music guys, Animators...all of them .

I saw something that inspiring after quite long
and... I thank you a lot for that
 
Old 05 May 2007   #36
Hi again,

Would like thank you for taking your time to answer those. Wel, Mr.Spencer I have a another thing to know about. I waited to ask from you guys for long time but I forgot it last time as wel. Anyways here it is!
Through out the spideman series of movies, who is responsible for camera movements? do you'll have a specific person to do that or who ever it is doing the scene working on the camera movement as well ? What I mean is the except of matchmoved cameras..

I've seen some brilliant camera shots in it!!.. can't even think of.!!.
wish you all the best and good luck for your future animation work..

cheers.
__________________
woo.. long way to go !!..

Last edited by exigolight : 05 May 2007 at 12:45 PM.
 
Old 05 May 2007   #37
Originally Posted by maxspider3000: Hi Spencer,
am so happy that we have the chance to chat a bit with you ... thanks to cgsociety for that ^_^

I didn't prepare any questions yet ... but till I post mine I wanna say hello and pass a little 2 questions

- How long did the shot take from you to animate ? I know that there was some complex scenes and some are more simple ... but am focus on the complex side ...
- Did every animator take a shot to animate it by himself ? or there was more than one to animate the same shot ?

thanks again for you kind reading ...
- Yusuf


Hi maxspider3000,
Thanks, I'm happy to be able to chat with all of you. There were a lot of shots on Spider-Man 3 that took a long time to animate. Sometimes it was for technical reasons like the face replacements in the Peter/Harry alley fight or most of the goo shots. Sometimes it was because the design of the shot and/or the performance of the character changed many times. Sometimes it was because the shot was length very long and in many cases it was a combination of all of the above. One of the shots that was in animation the longest was the first shot in the birth sequence, we called it bs01 (2672 frames long). Just the design of the shot took many months and continually changed as the movie progressed. I couldn't give you an exact amount of time but it took many, many months.
To answer your second question. For the most part one animator would animate a shot from start to finish. There were some exceptions, like the rolling sand grains in bs01. The sand fx team needed help transitioning from static grains to fast moving streams of sand. The best solution seemed to be to keyframe the grains at the beginning of the shot and then transition to particle sim for the rest. In animation we had about 5 animators take groups of grains and keyframe them slowly beginning to roll for about 400 frames, after that the sim took over. Lead animator Bernd Angerer animated all of Sandman's physical performance.

thanks,
Spencer
 
Old 05 May 2007   #38
Originally Posted by okazaky: Hi Spencer,

First of all thanks for responsing our questions, so here's mine:
How long did it take to create the character rigs, especially the one of Spidey?

And as CB_3D mentioned, it would be nice to see a lowres model of Spidey

Best regards,
okazaky


Hi okazaky,
Thanks for the questions. It's tough to give an exact time frame for this task since the Spidey rig has been tweaked over the years. A rough estimate would be around 4 months.
You can see my answer to CB_3D about the Spidey model. Also, you can see the lowest resolution of the model in the Spidey article on this site. On page 3 there is a movie of the making of a shot we called so02, black suited Spidey on the side of a mirrored building. In the section that shows a wireframe, it's kind of hard to see clearly but that model is a super low res one that we use in animation. It has no deformations so it's very fast to work with. When we send shots to dailies or for Sam we render with the high res model.

thanks,
Spencer
 
Old 05 May 2007   #39
Originally Posted by scook: Hi okazaky,
Thanks for the questions. It's tough to give an exact time frame for this task since the Spidey rig has been tweaked over the years. A rough estimate would be around 4 months.
You can see my answer to CB_3D about the Spidey model. Also, you can see the lowest resolution of the model in the Spidey article on this site. On page 3 there is a movie of the making of a shot we called so02, black suited Spidey on the side of a mirrored building. In the section that shows a wireframe, it's kind of hard to see clearly but that model is a super low res one that we use in animation. It has no deformations so it's very fast to work with. When we send shots to dailies or for Sam we render with the high res model.

thanks,
Spencer


I forgot to mention that that shot was animated by lead animator Peter Giliberti.

Spencer
 
Old 05 May 2007   #40
Originally Posted by namekuseijin: What is all this non-sense you guys are talking about? Renders, rigs, motion capture! scrap that! The reason the movie is so realistic is that Mr. Cook and his associates actually went through the trouble of setting up a multidimensional space-time machine and went to a dimension where Spidey and company actually exists, the so called Einstein-Rosen Marvel dimension. There, they were able to convince Spidey and his arch enemies to provide some action for a few million Hollywood bucks plus hot chicks, which were then shot (the action, not the chicks!) from a complex set of cameras strategically positioned. Really simple.

kidding aside, congrats for the amazing work!


Heh, I wish that were true. That would have been cool.

Spencer
 
Old 05 May 2007   #41
Hi Mr. Cook.

Im very glad to have the oportunity to talk with you on this forum, Thank you very much for your time, and thank you to CGTalk too.

I have a simple 2 questions:

1.- The team where you work have a "mix" of nationalities or is all American?. (Im from Mexico, and I always want to know this).
2.- Do you have already a great future proyect (like work on another Marvel Movie or SCFI Movie)?.

Thank you for your time

Last edited by EfrenStudios : 05 May 2007 at 05:40 PM.
 
Old 05 May 2007   #42
Originally Posted by Terro: Hi Spencer,

My question is a little off beat. I was wondering how important was 2D animation on your journey to your current success. I'm asking because I started out in 3D but have since been drawn to traditional animation. Is there a real benefit these days to have a stong 2D background and how realistic is it's foundation in 3D these days.

Thanks.


Hi Terro,
That's not an off beat question at all, it's very relevant. I spent most of my career as a stop-motion animator. For me there is great value in studying all forms of animation. If you are drawn (pun intended?) to traditional animation you should go for it, it can only help you become a more well rounded animator. In a way the tool you use to animate is almost irrelavant. If you are a good 2D animator or a good stop-motion animator then you can learn to use those skills on a computer. There is a tremndously rich history of animation styles and techniques going back 100 years. If you are only focused on 3D digital animation then you are missing out on some great learning experiences and inspiration.

thanks,
Spencer
 
Old 05 May 2007   #43
Originally Posted by Dutchman: Hello Spencer!
First of all I'm glad to see a fresh new 'Meet the Artist'-session, and even somebody who about who's work is spoken allot these days!

I finally got to see Matrix Revolutions last week, and I must say that this film gave me the (rare!) feel of "yeah, it's really really cool that I do something in VFX in my sparetime"! I think the climatic battle for Zion is one of the best VFX sequences I've seen in a long time!

I must say I enjoyed the questions by Bonedaddy and your answers - they contained very interesting information! (as for the rest of this thread - ofcourse! )
  1. Some years ago I red the VFX-article about Matrix Revolutions here on CGTalk (link), and it contained interesting information about the 'superpunch'. I was impressed by the fact it was all hand-animated and full 3D, while it seemed to be possible in a much easier way (cameramapping the head-plate onto geometry, getting the punch into that and some clever compositing, instead of a total 3D-head-recreation with cyberscanning etc). I always thought it had something to do with complex cameramoves, but when I saw the full scene I did still not understand why this all was made so complex (as the move wasn't that more complex then the other bullettime-shots). Did the choice have something to do with the watersplashes, or do I just simply get the complete method wrong?
  2. On the Zion-battle in Matrix Revolutions: was you being responsible for some of the animation? (if so, first of all, congratulations ) I wonder how you worked on the 'robot-creatures' where the soldiers are hangin in. Was the scene first completely prevized by you animators, so that the motiondevices where the guys hung on, on set (in a greenscreen stage?) could be lined up? Or are most of the characters you see digital doubles? As this must have been quite a complex scene, as in some of the shots 15+ characters seem to be placed in those devices, which are all moving and fighting...! (I'm sorry if you think this is a unappropiate question to an animator, as this might be more the compositing-side of the story... )
  3. You said before that you always have to do things effective, so mainly you'll especially want to be applying the directors vision the most easy. This way the disicions in the process seem to become more and more getting to be postponed to the compositing-suites and editing rooms. For instance the way relighting is these days often possible in a very far stadium after rendering, so that the director can easily change things on the 'final' frame. Do you think animation will also become more judged in the context of the final shot - so the workflow will allow very late changes on the animation? Or do you think that's just not nescessary?
  4. When you look back on the old days (of stopmotion): do you like these hyper-technical than those? Do you think you got another workflow in animation because of your previous stop-motion experience?
I'll be watching SM3 very soon, and I'm sure I'm gonna enjoy your work on it! Thanks for your time, and all the best on your upcoming work!
-Gijs




Hi Dutchman,

I hope you enjoy Spider-man 3, thanks for your questions. unfortunately, I can't answer questions 1 and 2, ESC did the effects for those sequences, Lyndon Barrios was the animation supervisor there. We (Imageworks) mostly did shots of the sentinels and ships in the tunnels. Maybe Lyndon will be featured on "meet the artist" someday.
I can answer question 3, I think. Apologies if I don't answer sufficiently, I'm not sure I completely understand your question but I'll give it a shot. All of the processes you mentioned; animation, compositing, editing are all happening more or less simultaneously during production. As soon as an early pass at animation is done the editors cut it in to check continuity and over all pacing of the scene. Compositors usually start testing lighting and fx comps before animation is complete. Many times there are late changes to animation. That's part of the filmmaking process.
Question 4, ah now that's an easy one. I sometimes miss stop-motion. I grew up on Ray Harryhausen films and love working on table top sets with cameras and lights and real models. I also love what I'm doing now too, it's a different way of animating but the goal is the same; create the illusion that something inanimate is alive and thinking. What I learned from stop-motion was perseverance and keeping focus on the end result.



thanks,
Spencer
 
Old 05 May 2007   #44
Originally Posted by lovisx: hello mr.cook

what is your wishlist for animation rigs? is there anything that you would want in a rig that is really hard to ahieve, or impossible to achieve?


Hi lovisx,
Most of the rigs we use have everything an animator would want, it usually boils down to personal preference. I think it would be nice to be able to animate with a hi res model. It's possible now but usually too slow. I guess that means faster computing power. I also would like to interact with the computer with something other than a mouse and keyboard. I've been looking in to other devices but nothing out there really seems to fit the bill yet. It would be great to have a kind of mocap system with gloves to allow us to manipulate rigs in a more natural way.

thanks for your question,
Spencer
 
Old 05 May 2007   #45
Originally Posted by Bracer: Hi Spencer, I had always wanted to ask this question to the people that made spiderman magic possible.

You mentioned you are not the digital modeler, still I was hoping you might to able to help me retrieve the answer from the actual person if you please

How do you do the spiderman webbing on the costume ?
It's so perfectly wrapped around with almost no distortion !

Thank you


Hi Bracer,
The web lines are basically displacement maps, there's no geometry for them. The pattern is based on the blueprints that the costume department used to print the details on the suits worn by the actors and stuntmen. There was also an extruded curve network on the digital model that kept them from stretching or distorting unnaturally. Thanks to Peter Nofz (digital efx supervisor) for this info.

thanks,
Spencer
 
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