Overworked animation team causes delay for Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse

Originally published at: Overworked animation team causes delay for Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse | Boing Boing


Late stage capitalism, mate; it wrecks ev’ryfin:


The part that kills me - especially having experienced the very same thing in my professional life - are the reports that Lord wouldn’t/couldn’t give feedback on shots until they were completely rendered. Incredible waste of time and money, and to me indicates the man in charge doesn’t know what he’s doing.


That’s bloody insane. If you can’t get at least a decent idea of how a shot is working from the storyboard stage you shouldn’t be working in animation at all.


I’m fine with the follow up being farther out as long as the animation team isn’t being abused and can focus on doing a good job. The movie will be great, they don’t need to rush it out. They also shouldnt have to sacrifice their well being for our entertainment, then again this kind of treatment is pretty typical in not just animation but other industries as well :sweat:




The distinctive look of these movies, though, is much more layered, with the rendering and compositing teetering on the balance of communication and clutter. These shots live and die by the final look. I’m not even sure how one storyboards these scenes when you have so much going on beyond the main action. Perhaps they need better tools for viewing the rendering at lower res, but I can see that things could get away from the director very quickly. The look is meant to punctuate the action, not obscure it.

Sure, but that doesn’t mean there’s any excuse for taking a “I can’t give feedback until I see the finished product” approach. A huge part of the director’s job is being able to visualize a movie as it’s coming together even if they can’t see what it will look like on screen yet. Even in the earliest days of live action film that meant trying to imagine what a scene would look like in black-and-white.

Imagine if someone directing one of the action scenes in a live-action Marvel movie was unable to give feedback to the actors or choreographers for any given scene until after the greenscreen and CGI work was complete. It’s not a reasonable expectation for any filmmaking workflow.


Compared to Michael Bay, who, apparently, storyboards most of his insanely dynamic sequences in his head. I’m not a fan of Bay’s work; but it is an impressive talent.


and, honestly, this was a much more traditional movie than the first.

would it really have mattered if an emotional scene between two of the characters used a different style, or used a different shot than what appeared in the final film? ( well, films plural, because apparently there are at least two different versions of the film in theaters )

in the first one, at times, absolutely. in this one, i really don’t think so. to me, this one felt like a movie that they animated, rather than a movie truly driven by its art

if you can’t story board that before production, yeah: it’s time for someone else to be making the decisions. ( apparently the artists were hired and then did no work for three months! that’s a sign of infinite money, and no oversight )

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Jesus Christ, there is no rush. Delay it. Make it good and don’t burn out people, which will just harm quality. We don’t need a new film every year. You do that and you get the “direct to home video” quality vibe.


I have heard that said of the CGI in Marvel. They’ll wait until it’s fully rendered and say no.

Lot of burnout there too I believe.


In the case of CGI in Marvel and other big live-action films there’s a huge amount of farming-out of the individual effects to different small special effects houses on fix-priced contracts, and those guys always get screwed with a ton of change requests. In that case the financial burden is passed to the effects houses, and many are bankrupted as a result. Based on what I’ve read in the case of Spider-man I think that the animation is being done in-house at Sony Pictures Imageworks, so it’s a matter of one big company making life hell for their employees rather that a corporate studio financially screwing over its contractors. At least that’s a problem that a union could help fix.

Huh- I just saw that Sony Pictures Animation is unionized but Sony Pictures Imageworks is not. That explains it.


Headline note: the overworked team is NOT responsible for the delays. Shitty leadership is responsible for both the overwork AND the delays.


Reading about the working conditions, I’m not surprised by so many people quitting - even though that tends to be extremely rare in these sorts of creative jobs. People are highly invested in seeing the project through and will put up with grotesque levels of overwork and abuse, so you have to fuck up things pretty bad to get people to quit, much less that many. (You see the same thing in the game industry, FX work, etc.)

Sounds like there was a reason for that:

Another professional revealed that one element that kept setting production back was the fact that Lord “had no idea what he wanted"

Animators were putting in 70+ hour weeks without any days off for a year+, and after working on a shot for hundreds of hours and getting the work approved, were then having their work thrown out and redone because Lord, who had final approval for every shot, overrode the directors, changed his mind and did re-writes. That’s multiple levels of fucked-up. Apparently a lot of the animators have said this was a severely abnormal situation and they’ll never work on another Lord movie again.

And apparently caused massive backlogs in various departments as the workflow got broken.

Sounds like they don’t have a choice - even if they overworked everyone 11+ hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days straight (like they did with this movie), they’re still not going to get it done.


in 2 hours and 20 minutes, he couldn’t even manage to tell a complete story :cry:

and on a less serious note, don’t even get me started on the plot holes

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I love the Spider-Verse films, but we don’t need them. We certainly don’t need them at the expense of the animators. We waited long enough for Across. We can wait longer for Beyond. Maybe in the meantime plan things out better.

All this also explains the structure problems I’ve heard complaints about regarding Across the Spider-Verse. Lord and company had ideas about the sequels but didn’t have the plot down. Guess this is becoming more common in animated films. (See Into the Unknown on Disney+.) Maybe, just maybe, the major parts of production shouldn’t start until plans firm up. Doesn’t matter how graphically intense the film is. Don’t waste people’s time. Release dates shouldn’t be the end all be all.


This is interesting in that apparently, the animators went back and fix stuff in the current film after the release: [Spider-Man Across the Spiderverse: TWO VERSIONS of the Film Confirmed! (Every Change Breakdown) - YouTube].

Given that the next film is slipping, I wonder who’s idea it was to go back and do this.

I left the VFX industry after working on the movie 2012. Can confirm all of the above fears/concerns/outrage. 100+ souls working 60+ hours a week (before we hit crunch time) for a year, for less than three minutes of screen time. That culture of not failing, not leaving a show before seeing it through, not complaining - not unionizing - all deeply baked into our identities.

Almost nobody quit, but almost that entire crew swore they’d never work in VFX again after they finished the gig. Very few people succeeded at getting out, most of my friends from that time had to move to Vancouver or various parts of China. Or both. Few of them are married more than a decade later. One of them was in the news for having a heart attack on the way home and driving off the 5 freeway at 3am - and going right back to the same gig once the hospital released him.

It was unsustainable then, it’s much much worse now.


So… you didn’t like ‘Across the Spiderverse?’