How ‘Spider-Man’ VFX Team Revives Old Villains for ‘No Way Home’

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” shattered the pandemic box office at the end of December, but also sent fans into the social-media orbit with the return of villains from previous Spider-Man movies including Green Goblin, Doc Ock and Sandman. Working behind the scenes to bring those villains back to life was VFX supervisor Kelly Port.

“While technology had significantly advanced, the villains stayed the same,” says Port of the distinct looks they had to revive. “A lot of the digital assets from the [Sam] Raimi and [Marc] Webb films no longer exist, so those we had to get going from scratch.”

With that, Port and his team examined ideas such as looking at the most practical, efficient way to get Sandman across the living room floor. “Would you make yourself into a human form and walk? Or would you just blow over there? How would that work? Does he create vocal cords out of sand?” Port asks. The idea was Sandman would always shift so there would be a constant flow of sand.

Port and his team wanted audiences to see Jamie Foxx’s performance as Electro. In the same way electricity is sparked, they created feelers — small electrical pulses that emanate out of the character.

Says Port: “What’s really interesting is that he can get into action poses, fights and power moves, but he doesn’t have to obey his own physical space. He can throw a punch that goes through his own body.”

A significant change was Doc Ock. In prior outings, his arms had been created through practical effects. This time around, Port says: “We re-scanned the physical prop from the archive and took lots of additional reference photography. One of the things we noticed is that there are different looks of those arms from shot to shot, so we had to settle on our look and make it ours.”

For another action movie with an iconic hero, “No Time to Die” special-effects supervisor Chris Corbould was tasked with ensuring that there was an emotional connection to Daniel Craig’s performance and the VFX. Additionally, amid the exotic locations, production designer Mark Tildesley built huge sets while Lee Morrison and his team performed epic stunts while the visual effects supported the efforts.

In one action-filled sequence, James Bond is cornered by villains in a quaint town square as his Aston Martin DB5 fires countless rounds of ammunition while the car does donuts. Corbould required 10 versions of the car kitted out with gadgets — something 007 is renowned for. But the weapons would have been slightly upgraded, so the team put in pyrotechnics for the scene.

“We went out there 13 times during the pre-viz,” Corbould says, as they mapped out the entire sequence. Since the sequence was shot on a historic town square, concrete blocks were put in place to blend in with the building. -“We had to protect those old buildings. We had cars going off into the ravine, and Union Jack parachutes opening up as they jump off the roof.”

But those ideas didn’t make the final scene since the idea of keeping that emotional connection with Bond would have been missed. Instead, the sequence was kept — grounded in reality — and “short and sharp.”

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