LOS ANGELES — In Marvel Studios’ and Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: Homecoming, a regular day for young Peter Parker (Tom Holland) involves equal parts high school drama and neighborhood watch. Directed by Jon Watts, the web-slinging adventure tells a new coming-of-age story for the timeless hero. To bring the adrenaline-charged action to life, Watts and VFX supervisor Janek Sirrs enlisted Deluxe’s Method Studios to create a memorable Washington Monument sequence and Deluxe’s Iloura to build detailed environments.
Under the direction of Method VFX supervisor Matt Dessero, who also served as additional VFX supervisor for production, artists crafted the climactic Washington Monument sequence where Spider-Man saves his friends from impending doom. The sequence was initially pre-vised, then further refined by Method to hone in on action and story beats. From an artistic standpoint, it helps establish Spider-Man as a superhero still learning how to balance a dual life. To accurately recreate the landmark, a small Method team navigated government restrictions to survey the Washington Monument in DC and take high-resolution reference photography. Sirrs also captured aerial plates in the city that were used for shots and to reconstruct digital matte paintings. Live action footage was shot on various indoor and outdoor stages in Atlanta, with partial replicas of the façade and top of the Washington Monument. Method integrated plate footage with a CG replica of the Washington Monument and its surrounding environment for a seamless, high-stakes scene.
“Having a full CG set allows more creative freedom once principal photography has wrapped, and also enables more dynamic camera movements,” says Dessero. “And obviously we couldn’t very well damage a national landmark, so we reconstructed it digitally. However, that was challenging in the sense is that there were limitations on the areas we could fly over, again for security. To get everything we needed from a different vantage point, we carefully mapped our shoots ahead of time.”
As a large tourism draw, the Washington Monument and surrounding area are generally highly trafficked. To accurately reflect this, Method artists captured more than 300 actors on a soundstage in Atlanta. The performances were fine tuned and then digitally inserted into the sequence, along with CG vehicles for wider shots. Method also heavily referenced motion capture sessions conducted with Holland in Atlanta and Los Angeles in creating his digital double, ensuring an authentic performance for each frame of action.
Method also created the Spider-Man Mark I suit asset, which was distributed and used by all vendors who worked on shots with the hero character. Sirrs and the team at Method shot high-resolution photography of the physical suit, then using the reference photography and a digital body cast of actor Tom Holland, built a realistic digital version.
The team at Iloura focused primarily on creating the sequence in the Department of Damage Control. Led by VFX Supervisor Dan Bethell, Iloura artists digitally transformed a warehouse set into a full 3D environment with Spider-Man swinging through the rafters. With Spider-Man shot practically on wires and stunt rigging, Iloura added expressiveness to the otherwise static Spider-Man eyes and blended all scene elements. Iloura artists also animated the flying drone used by Spider-Man as a surveillance device.