Folks (https://folksvfx.com) in Toronto created a number of visual effects for the Columbia Pictures/Marvel Studios feature film Spider-Man: No Way Home. The studio worked on two main sequences for the blockbuster - the chemical lab and the school’s rooftop.
For the chemical lab sequence, the Folks team handled suit replacements and compositing for the environment that appear behind the windows. For the school’s rooftop, Folks again handled suit replacements, in addition to building a CG roof, set extensions and adding in the surrounding city. The team also integrated blue-screen reshoots with previously-shot material.
Folks' Mihaela Orzea, who served as visual effects supervisor, recently took some time out to answer questions about the studio’s work.
Mihaela, can you talk about the scenes that VFX worked on?
“We worked on what can be considered some of the most emotionally-pivotal scenes in the movie. These include the rooftop scene where all three Peters meet for the first time, so, you can imagine our joy knowing we would be working on one of the MCU's most monumental scenes. We knew this would be an iconic moment for those watching the films, and we really wanted to play our part. It was a true pleasure working on it, and our artists loved every moment of it.
“We also worked on the chemistry lab sequence where the Peters came up with the antidote that plays into the film's climax. And finally, we worked on the cemetery scene where sadly, Peter had to say goodbye to his rock, Aunt May. These scenes were consequential to the film and drove the emotional arcs for the Peters. These are emotionally-heavy scenes where the VFX complements the narrative, and we're very proud of our work in the final film.
Can you give us a breakdown of the VFX in these sequences? What specific effects were created?
“We helped build the environment for the rooftop scene — a combination of CG rooftop/CG tower, DMP 360 degrees sky, and night city plates used to recreate the city around the school. The team and I had a ball acting like high-end tailors in the rooftop and chemistry lab sequences, changing Tom Holland’s Peter suit. What may seem like a simple and straightforward task had posed many problems that needed solving. To match precisely the body moves and every single muscle movement, we had to use a very complex and flexible rig along with a very precise rotomation. We also needed to match the light in all those scenes for the final comp. We built the environment in both the chemistry lab and the cemetery scene, and added that into the shots. The work required precision for all these tasks so that the final delivery was of the highest standards.”
What software and hardware does Folks VFX use for work like this?
“Folks is a Houdini-based company, and as such, we did most of our 3D elements in Houdini. A general challenge when multiple companies need to have the same CG character in their shots is to replicate the look to the smallest details and keep it consistent between different studios. Every studio uses their proprietary software, and it takes specific skills and time to match everything.”
You mentioned the costume/suit replacement. What were some of the other challenges that came up with these sequences?
“When working on a beloved franchise, I would say the main challenge is delivering on the expected high quality. It's not just the fans and our production partners, but our artists at Folks who want to provide the best quality possible. Everybody was so excited to work on this project; all artists pushed themselves to perform at their best. Solving problems is often a team effort, and everyone put their best efforts forward and rolled up their sleeves. It was great knowing that all of our artists wanted to be a part of solutions to any challenges that presented themselves.
“It was a pleasure working on a beloved franchise and characters like Spider-Man and, in this case, three Spider-Men!
“I would like to thank my team again for all their efforts. We are happy and excited to continue our working relationship with Sony and Marvel on their new projects, and look forward to bringing more joy to all fans worldwide.”