Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Amazing Spiderman 2 video game trailer - pitch 01

It's funny how Marvel's incredible successes at the theater in the last decade have trickled out into the rest of the entertainment industry. Brain Zoo Studios has now created two 70 + minute animated movies for Marvel - Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United ( and Iron Man & Captain America: Heroes United ( But we've also worked on a couple of game related Marvel projects too. Most recently, I had the pleasure of developing a trailer pitch for The Amazing Spiderman 2 video game that came out a little while ago. Pitches can be tricky as the projects often provide very little time to the storyboard artist and can change drastically over such a short period. Sometimes we're expected to bust out a whole set of storyboard frames that detail out the trailer as we see it, sometimes we go a step further and put them to music in an animatic to submit, and sometimes we only get minutes of the client's attention and a pdf of story beats is created and we literally stand up and give a powerpoint presentation and show/talk our way through it. That last option is the trickiest of them all. We have the least amount of time to show our client what we're thinking and we can't waste our time showing a million frames, just some of the most important story beats that we then essentially describe our story and approach and the atmosphere and camera styles. Usually, I pretty them up by drawing them a bit cleaner and with tone or sometimes textures. As much quality as I can fit into a tiny little time frame.

So here's how we started. I had two different ideas I was tasked with fleshing out. At first we were going to go with a full on storyboards to animatic approach (although that would change later…). I usually start my storyboards with rough thumbnails like below. I keep the resolution and size large so when I draw over them later, the linework still holds up as I increase magnification, but I make sure to zoom out so that I'm viewing the frames at only a few inches in width. I do like to noodle, and this approach keeps me from doing that. This method also allows me to see if I'm repeating compositions and I get a really good idea of how one action or scene transitions to the next. It's also easier for my supervisors to get a feel for what I'm thinking too. I don't always sketch every frame and sometimes I leave multiple ideas for how to handle a scene and go back later to choose to best approach.The story point was to show Spiderman as a total underdog, outmatched in a fight, but still battling on. In this idea, Spiderman is getting his tights kicked by the Green Goblin and is thrown off a building, blown up into the adjacent building and then falling through the glass sunroof of another only to create a web trampoline below that catapults him back into battle. That may not seem like much, but the pitch was for a 30 sec trailer, and with all the slow motion moments to accommodate the requested dialogue, it would have been a challenging task with what I boarded out.

As I was finishing up the thumbnails stage, details for the meeting were being fleshed out and it became apparent that we'd be having an actual meeting and discussion, so it became necessary to shift gears from delivering a complete set of storyboard frames, but rather we needed to create more polished frames describing some of the key story beats that would be accompanied by our narration and explanation.

Goblin choking the life out of Spiderman above a chasm between buildings.

We see the Goblin's fist mirrored in the mask, closing in on Spidey's face in slow motion.

 Cut to Spidey falling away from the impact of Goblin's punch.

Goblin throws a pumpkin bomb after Spidey.

Blasting him into the adjacent building.

 Spiderman falling unconscious down toward the streets.

Regaining consciousness, he fires off a web at the building and catches himself. 

But the web has snagged a window and breaks under his weight.

 Those webs are so handy. Catapult!

Cut to a later scene that would emphasize Peter's choice to live in a dangerous world, but instead of ignoring the those in need, finding the inner strength to be a hero. Our "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" moment.

Then we'd cut to several action shots as Spidey duels various villains he encounters.

Black Cat.



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