Meet the Artist: Spencer Cook

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  06 June 2007
Originally Posted by Render3Dean: Thank you for your reply. One more question, slightly similar. You may not know the answer, but do they also solely use maya for the modelling (and zbrush of course)?

Once again. Superb Work. Keep it up!

Hi Render3Dean,

It's pretty much Maya, I think there may be other programs involved to translate 3D scans into a usable format.

  06 June 2007
Animation/Art Inspiration

Thanks for the reply Mr Cook.

Since this is a rare opportunity, I'll be extremely pleased if you could answer a few more questions :

1. What particular (art/animation) influence(s) do you guys use for Spideys movements ?

I felt that the aerial fight sequences had a (awesome) anime feel to them. In the sense that it was beautifully planned and stylishly executed.
Curious as to how, who and by what you guys are influenced and inspired by when choreographing Spidey-Moves.

2. On a personal note, who would be your Villians Of Choice for the next Spidey movie ?
That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die. -- HP Lovecraft

My Dominance War III Entry - Tears of Blood

  06 June 2007
Originally Posted by Asiadeep: Great job with Spiderman and Matrix. Each one is ground breaking in its own way and I love all of them. What the next project?

hi Asiadeep,
Thanks, I'm happy to hear you like our work. I'm not sure what my next project is. There are some very cool projects on the horizon here at Imageworks but it's too early to mention any by name.

  06 June 2007
Originally Posted by Bhunt: Hello, I just wanted to say what a great film and congrats on such a success. And as many have already posted here, I just wanted to say that my favorite part was the sandman birth. I loved how soft the sand felt and how he was trying to come to grips that "okay im made of sand now.....just need to pick myself and move on" lots of determination in that scene and as a growing animator I hope I can pull something like that off in the future. Great work! Also just wanted to thank you for giving us your time here. Thanks.


Hi Bhunt,

Thanks for the kind words. I was most nervous about the birth sequence, there were so many complex elements that needed to work. I'm glad you liked it.

  06 June 2007
Originally Posted by GoldenCamel: Here goes some critics about Spiderman III, its just my opinion thou.

Story was the weakest among the three films, I'd say the first film had the strongest storyline and the most clear to follow, but the third film has too much material and very little time devoted to each as if barely scratching the surface, never letting the audience really get involved emotionaly with anything. For example, the story with the sandman and his daughter and wife, so little screen time is given to them while it could have been a great subject to go deep with.

On direction, while I may not be quilified to criticise, as a mere member of the audience, I found some of the action sequences too crowded, the cutting and continuity was sometimes too hard to follow, specialy on the fight with harry and pete in the alleys, it was like they tried to pack in too much goodies into that sequence that it spoiled it all.

On animation, there was some minor stuff, one during the sandman born scene while hes getting up and falling, i think it would have needed more polish, it felt to me that it was somehow rushed in animation. also some of the shots with spidy just screamed computer animation, as they were too clean and perfect to fit into the live action set. As it is with CG animation in live action films, sometimes you need to add those little imperfections, like a few unclean arcs or maybe mess up those slow in/out a bit to make it more life like.

animation of the sandman in the final battle could have been better, I would have personaly added more weight and force to his punch. it was there but could have been pushed more to add more impact.

Overall, I enjoyed the film but the first spiderman remains my favorite.

Don't sugercoat it man, tell us what you really think :-) Actually, I appreciate hearing what didn't work for people as well as what did. That's the thing about character animation, every human being is hardwired through millions of years of evolution to be sensitive to human and animal body language. It's a gut reaction, an person doesn't need any training in animation to spot something that doesn't feel right. As animators we try to find a balance between the fantasy and the reality of an action. In movies like Spidey 3 we are creating events that couldn't happen in the real world so part of it is very subjective.

thanks for the comments,
  06 June 2007
Originally Posted by hanias: Hi Spencer,

First I want to thank you for your time...

Well I entered VFX field almost 2 yrs ago, I work in Lebanon(Middle East).

The field is evolving here but still not as professional as what u guys do. I'm really eager to learn and improve in this field more. I would like to ask you, is it in any way possible for me to do training in one of the post production companies in the US? If yes how can I reach any, if not then what's your advice for me in order to improve and reach the pro level..

Mr. Cook,

To start, I just want to say thank you. You and your team have done a magnificent job with the Matrix movies, as well as the Spiderman movies (super huge ridiculous spiderman fan since I was born). Your fx are greatly inspiring and amazing! I have always had a passion for animation and I am getting ready to attend AAU online at the age of 26 (military service after highschool). I feel like I am a bit behind the curve because I have very little knowledge in the 3D animation world (messing with the downloadable version of 3DS Max as of late) and the animation/production language used. If you wouldn't mind, I would just like to get your advice on some of the possible obstacles/problems that I may encounter as someone starting out "this late in the game" so to speak. Thank you ahead of time and keep the amazing work coming! Take care!


Hi hanias and JBoogie,

I'm going to answer your questions together since you both have similar requests.

You can find contact info for studios on the internet. Just type the studio's name in Google and go to their website. Most will have an "employment" section that will give you an address to send demos to. Here's one to get you started;

Make sure your demo is vhs or dvd in ntsc format. Most studios get tons of demos everyday so don't expect a quick reply. You can follow up with a phone call to the HR department. Make sure your demo and cover letter are clear about the position you want; modeling, animation, lighting, etc. You can also inquire about internships which can usually be a good foot in the door if you are just starting out.

I know what it's like trying to make that initial contact and it can be intimidating and/or frustrating. If your demo is specifically character animation you can mention my name in the cover letter and I'll be happy to take a look at it. Please only send me character animation demos though.

To JBoogie, the best thing you can do is animate, animate and then animate some more. One of your fellow posters ( amitabhverma8) asked a similar question, here were my suggestions to him;

The best advice I can give to improve as an animator is this; animate what interests you not what you think other people want to see. Whether it's cartoons, photoreal monsters or spaceships, you'll do better work and be happier if you follow your interests. Also, study real world reference. Act out an action in front of a mirror or, better yet, videotape youself and study it frame by frame. If you are animating a creature, find an animal in the real world to get ideas from. Find nature footage of that animal and study it frame by frame and apply that to your animation. Read animation books like "The illusion of life" or Richard Williams "The animator's survival kit" for basic animation principals. Most of all...animate, make mistakes, learn from your mistakes, be your own harshest critic and study human and animal body language.

The software you use is not as important as developing good animation skills.

I hope this helps, I look forward to seeing all of your great work in the future.

  06 June 2007
Originally Posted by jpiazzo: Spencer,
Congrats on great work and great career.

Joe Piazzo
SVA Film, 1984

Thanks Joe, good to hear from you. Hope all is well with you.

  06 June 2007
Last drinks!

Thank you everyone who have participated in this tremendous open Q&A with Spencer Cook on his amazing career. Thanks also to Sandy O'Neill from Sony Imageworks for making this possible, and most definitely, Thank You to Spencer Cook for making your time available.
Fmr Editor and features writer, CGSociety; Global Artist Liaison, Ballistic Publishing. Freelance writer, media consultant & digital producer.
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