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Sony Pictures’ Studio-wide Post-Production Effort Helped Make Spider-Man ‘Amazing’

Teams from across Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) came together in a close-knit collaboration for the production of Columbia Pictures’ superhero blockbuster The Amazing Spider-Man, currently in worldwide release in 2D and 3D. Sony Pictures Imageworks (SPI) created many of the film’s stunning visual effects sequences, the Sony 3D Technology Center consulted on the film’s stereography, Sony Pictures Post Production provided sound services, and Colorworks, SPE’s digital intermediate facility, performed final color grading and editorial finishing.

“A tentpole release on this scale really puts the studio to the test, and challenges each group to set the bar higher than ever before — from the teams working on the sound stages to the technicians in the DI suites. To a large extent, The Amazing Spider-Man was created at Sony Pictures from image-capture to answer-print and I’m proud to acknowledge that the excellent work on our lot sets a new standard for creative and technological collaboration,” said Gary Martin, President, Production Administration at Sony Pictures.

Sony Pictures Imageworks, which marks its 20th anniversary this year, served as lead visual effects provider for The Amazing Spider-Man. Academy Award-nominated senior visual effects supervisor Jerome Chen led the Imageworks team in producing more than 600 shots, which included fully CG versions of Spider-Man and his nemesis The Lizard, a 9-foot tall, bipedal reptile. SPI also created several photo-realistic, fully digital environments, including the hallways of Midtown Science High School, a subterranean sewer system, and the skyscrapers of Manhattan. The film’s climactic battle, set atop the 135-story Oscorp Building, is also a predominately digital sequence. Supervised by 3D Visual Effects Supervisor, Rob Engle, The Amazing Spider-Man was the first native-3D film for Sony Pictures Imageworks, which developed a specialized 3D pipeline and toolset for the film.

“Marc had a specific vision for Spider-Man’s world: an organic, naturalistic New York City, a place full of dirt, scaffolding, and steam.  He wanted Spider-Man to be more physical, to really react with this environment, rather than a stylized version of the character,” says Chen.  “I loved this concept, but I knew that an organic, naturalistic Spider-Man would make the visual effects work a lot more challenging, because the CG imagery would now demand a higher level of visual sophistication.”

The film’s soundtrack was completed on a dubbing stage at Sony Pictures Studios by re-recording mixers Paul Massey and David Giammarco. Massey and Giammarco have collaborated on a number of films, including 3:10 To Yuma, which brought them a 2008 Academy Award nomination for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing. Sound design and editorial, Foley, ADR and scoring were also completed by Sony Pictures Post Production Services.

At Colorworks, digital intermediate colorists Steve Bowen and John Persichetti led a team that completed final post work and prepared a variety of 2K distribution masters (in 2D and 3D for film, digital cinema and IMAX projection), as well as analogous 4K masters for archival purposes.

Post production work was facilitated by an innovative digital workflow centering on Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Production Backbone shared storage environment. The Production Backbone, located within the Colorworks facility on the Sony Pictures lot, served as a central repository for original camera source elements and corresponding metadata. The film’s editorial team, Sony Pictures Imageworks and Colorworks shared access to the Backbone and were able to draw data as needed in appropriate file formats.

This workflow allowed editorial, visual effects, color grading and finishing for both 2D and 3D versions of the film to proceed simultaneously. As the editorial team finished cutting 3D sequences, they passed them onto Colorworks for conforming at 2K. Finished visual effects shots arrived from Sony Picture Imageworks and were processed in a similar manner. Conformed scenes then moved to color grading, with 2D and 3D versions graded in parallel in adjoining DI theaters.

In addition to the post-production work done at SPE, The Amazing Spider-Man was shot on eight of Sony Pictures Studios own sound stages, three of which are the biggest in Hollywood.

The Amazing Spider-Man has grossed over $341 million at the worldwide box office in its first week of release.