Going into “Spider-Man 2,” visual effects supervisor John Dykstra knew the pressure was on to top the visual effects of the first film. He rose to the challenge by focusing on the seamless integration of live action and animation, so that when Spidey flies through New York City the actor Tobey Maguire and his CG clone and the buildings and their digital doubles are even more indistinguishable than before.
For the second installment, Spider-Man was updated with improved musculature, a more realistic skeleton and a skin that refracted and reflected light in more believable ways. By photographing Maguire in various different positions and with a variety of light sources in a “torturous” day-long session, Dykstra and his vfx team could meld the real thing with the CG version to make him infinitely more malleable and capable of performing stunts that only a half-man half-spider can.
The city backdrop was made more vertiginous by using high dynamic-range photography to capture additional real-life footage that formed the basis of digitally altered buildings recreated from many new perspectives.
But it was the many tentacled villain Doc Ock (Alfred Molina) who provided the biggest visual-effects challenge.
“We knew we were going to perform actions that were impossible for stunt actors,” says Dykstra, of his octopus-like creation. He developed CG tentacles, along with a mechanical device, essentially puppets, for the close-up live action material. “We all worked on creating the personality of the tentacles, the production designer, costume designer and Alfred himself. He really acted that character in the scene so we knew who he was.”
Dykstra is particularly proud of Doc Ock’s cold-fusion event, which involved coming up with a convincing depiction of depth that occurs within a brightly lit environment.