'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Animator Nick Kondo on The Most Difficult Shot
The lead animator took to Twitter to share what went into one of the film's most poignant moment.
The Academy Award-winning film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse introduced the world to Miles Morales in a groundbreaking animated feature film that showcased the limitless possibilities of the Spider-Verse, where more than one hero can wear the mask.
With a sequel on the way, lead animator Nick Kondo took to Twitter to share the most difficult shot he had to animate in the film. Kondo states, "If you'd asked me the same question 2 years ago, no doubt I would've explained the long and complicated path that this shot took to completion," in referencing the Ganke scene, which you can learn all about the process in a different Twitter thread.
However, reflecting on the film now, Kondo notes, "But I suppose as the years passed and I digested my experiences working on the film, it was this run of shots - Jeff [Davis], Miles [Morales], & Aaron [Davis] in the alleyway - that suddenly came leaping to mind when I was asked the question this time."
Kondo continues, "As [co-director] Bob Persichetti expressed to me: Miles's life is falling apart. He's been betrayed by Aaron - his longtime idol, & [without] reconciliation, he’s dead and Miles blames himself for it. On top of that his dad is about to find out that he’s Spider-Man and blame him too," before adding, "Actually, this moment was initially envisioned with Jeff’s gun aimed directly at Miles, but it was ultimately deemed to be too controversial and we decided to have the gun in the 'high ready' position instead."
Kondo references a personal story on how that scene in the alleyway made the process more difficult for him, "Needless to say, it’s a devastating emotional load on Miles. And to try to put myself in his shoes, I dug back to when I lost my dad suddenly & unexpectedly just after college -- Remembering the crushing feeling of getting the midnight call to find out he was gone."
It was this personal connection that Kondo had to sit with for several months working on the shot, "It took around 3 months to animate these shots. Which was 3 months spent putting myself through my feelings of grief daily in the hopes that some of it would come through in Miles’s performance."
Kondo offers one brief moment of levity in the scene, "If there was any bit of playfulness in this shot, it was disassembling Jeff’s gun and using it as a 'smear frame' when he turns around. Which of course ended up being buried in shadows, ha!"
Kondo closes out the reflection that not all difficult aspects of an animated production are technical, "So this was the hardest shot, not for its complexity or technical challenges, but for its emotional toll. All said [though], it was an honor to work with Miles in his moment of deep despair. As my [supervisor] put it, 'It’s rare we get to work w/ this level of pathos in animation.'"
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