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    • In the "Step Inside the Spider-Verse" panel at Collision with Pam Marsden of Sony Pictures Animation, it was described as "Join Pam Marsden, Head of Physical Production for Sony Pictures Animation, to discover what goes into creating an animated feature film. We’ll also get the inside scoop on how the team behind the Academy Award winning “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” went about creating an all-new visual language for animated storytelling."

      Of course I had to check it out! Pam talked about getting started in the animation industry through a somewhat nontraditional way - the world of the theatre:

      “My first career was in Chicago and New York, where I worked as a production stage manager for live theatrical events and as the managing director for the International Theater Festival in Chicago. I was in Chicago when I got a call from Disney: it turned out Disney Studios wanted a dinosaur movie, and a CG studio. I asked ‘what’s a CG?’ I left Chicago for what was described as a 6 month test: I worked with leaders from Disney’s fabled storytelling and traditional animation pipeline, veteran FX producers, live-action FX producers, and actual rocket scientists, and me, a theater producer who didn’t understand “the shot.” I had to ask if it was the same as a scene in the theater, and it wasn’t! …no one had the background to do what we wanted."

      Technology has become more ubiquituous in the past few decades!

      I remember Jurassic Park was considered miraculous because it had 83 whopping VFX shots, and our movie was considered to not be able to be done with 113 shots…and then my 6 month test turned into a 6 year producing career, and I got my first producing credit for Disney’s DINOSAUR… I eventually moved to Sony Pictures Animation in 2005, where I produced CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS. But the heart of that early team, filled with collaboration, innovation, and professional respect, remains the same in our industry, and I fell in love with animation. So now I run production at a scrappy studio with great ambition.”

    • Pam shared that Sony is committed to making “big, bold movies where the hand of the filmmaker is strongly felt.”

      “We create the story side by generating animatics, hand-drawn storyboards edited together with dialogue, FX and music, to allow us to visualize the film as a whole in a very early stage. The second prong, we approach the visual side, by allowing filmmakers to work with production designers and visual development artists to explore the look of the film including character design, environments, and the overall aesthetic.”

      “A team of over 800 artists and technicians pushed themselves to expand the boundary of what the animation could look like. When challenged, we innovated and developed a brand-new animated language for storytelling.”

      “Chris and Phil weren’t original interested in making this movie because they didn’t know how they could expand the Spider-Man canon, but they came back with this proposal. They would tell the story, but only if they could tell the story of a new Spider-Man, Miles Morales. He wa introduced to the comics in 2011, and became a fan favorite.”

      “We were really excited to tell his story, and do it in a unique way. The team knew from the beginning that we needed to distinguish this Spider-Man from others, so we decided to use animation, and create a new visual language.”

    • Pam shared: “As we often find, it’s helpful to identify a style to guide the animation and visual development. In the case of Spider-Man, we went back to the original comic books. Several key impressions - paneling, in-frame text - are signatures of the format, so we could use that to associate the movie visuals with the format. Bold graphic design, strong dynamic character poses, dramatic camera angles - all of that is used to make comic books engaging and active. So we wanted to see that to evoke a comic book style…the production designers liked the gritty imperfections of the printed comics.”

      “Spider-Man is set in a dense urban environment, and we needed to convey the kinetic energy of Mile’s world.”

      “The traffic cone was instrumental…that simple object led to one of our earliest animation tests created for the film. The focus of the test was to establish rules for level of detail, the concept of simplifying details on objects that are further away from the camera. Instead of blurring them out, we simplified the style and design, which meant we could make design choices, and have greater control over our final image.”

      One of Sony's earliest renderings for the film was of an orange traffic cone, and “When that shot came to life we knew we were really on to something.”

      "CMYKchaos was the printing effect used in the film." Pam also shared that “Animating on twos was a scary leap of faith."

      The overall presentation really underscored how incredibly pioneering, creative and original this approach was. I'm excited to see what future projects Sony Animation and Pam create in the future!