EXCLUSIVE: Vic Armstrong Talks THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN Web-Swinging Effects And More
Vic Armstrong was the second unit director on The Amazing Spider-Man, and in this excerpt from my exclusive interview with him, he talks revealingly about how they achieved the practical web-swinging effects in the movie and what it was like to work with Andrew Garfield.
As we saw in the leaked set videos during filming of The Amazing Spider-Man last year, the team behind this incarnation of the iconic Marvel superhero have put an emphasis on using as many practical effects as possible to bring Spider-Man and his web-swinging to life on the big screen. Perhaps one of the biggest faults people had with Sam Raimi's trilogy was how rigid and static the live action Spidey looked in comparison to the computer generated version. The transition between the two was always obvious. In an excerpt from my interview with legendary stuntman/stunt coordinator/second unit director Vic Armstrong about his autobiography The True Adventures of the World's Greatest Stuntman, this is what he told me about working on the film and how they went about achieving the real life web swinging effects.
"I’m going to LA for the premiere on the 28th June. With [The Amazing] Spider-Man, it was exciting because it’s not just dreaming up crazy stunts and things and then sticking them all in a computer and having somebody do it for you. The producers and director wanted to have a much more realistic approach to it. They felt that the first three were starting to become very, very computer looking and a little bit unreal. As you know, I did Superman I and II, which is the other end of the scale of course. So, we worked very closely with my brother who was the stunt coordinator on it, and there were in fact eight Armstrong’s working on Spider-Man. My nephew James, my nephew Jess, my son Scott, my brother Andy, my daughter Georgie, my son-in-law John and my daughter Nina. A whole gang of us."
"It was great to work and rehearse and make Spider-Man move because Spider-Man is different from Superman or Iron Man – he actually flies on webs. So, we went back to basics and actually related it to Tarzan. His momentum in the jungle is changing from a diagonal direction from vine to vine, which gets the momentum going and that’s how he progresses through. That’s basically when you think about it what Spider-Man is doing. He’s doing it off webs off his wrists, but you still have to have the motivation to propel him along, you know? So we went back to basics and built some stunning rigs, some really unusual rigs, and got him flying like that."
"They’re big swooping swings diagonally, and then he goes to the top of the arc, he changes his direction onto the other wrist, then he swings down and up again. When he’s going through the bottom of that arc going down, he’s pulling three and a half G’s, so when he gets to the top of it and flicks the other arm out to change to the next web he’s weightless and that is what we all decided was what was missing in the other movies. The forces on the body and the way it stretches out under three and a half G's. Now he gets weightless and then it comes back up again, and you see those flexes and all the things you subconsciously look for but are not getting in the computer generated version."
As for what it was like to work with Andrew Garfield on the movie, Vic had nothing but good things to say about the actor who plays Peter Parker in the upcoming reboot, revealing that he was extremely hands on when it came to portraying the superhero (you may recall him being spotted on set in full costume during filming).
"Andrew was brilliant. My brother is a tough taskmaster, and Andrew came and we had a big, big warehouse in Culver City and we had all our rehearsal equipment set up there – the flying rigs, the climbing rigs, the falling rigs and our big trucks are in there with all the rigging stuff. Andrew came along and he’s a very down to Earth English actor. He wanted to get his hands dirty, didn’t want to be treated any differently to anyone else and he became one of the stuntmen. We taught him what they know and what they could do. Some of them can perform things better than him so they would do those particular shots in the movie – the parkour and a bit of the skateboarding and different bits and pieces – but Andrew worked absolutely flat out as a stuntman and trained from the basics so he did an awful lot on his own. He was great."
As you can probably guess, I did my best to find out whether or not Vic knew anything about when work on the planned sequel will start - it's currently rumoured for a 2014 release - but it turns out that even he has yet to hear when production will begin. However, he remains optimistic about returning to work on the follow-up.
"No, I’d like to know! [Laughs] I’d like to do the sequel I must say."
The True Adventures of the World's Greatest Stuntman from Titan Books is on sale now and you can check out my review of the book here on CBM later this month. The rest of my interview with Vic (in which he talks about working on everything from Superman to Indiana Jones and much, much more) will be up on the site tomorrow.
Think you don’t know Vic Armstrong? You’ve seen his work in countless films. He’s been stunt double for James Bond and Indiana Jones, and he’s directed action scenes for 3 Bond movies, Mission Impossible 3 and Thor, to name but a few.He’s got a lot of amazing stories to tell, and they’re all here in this acclaimed memoir, now updated with Vic’s work on The Amazing Spider-Man!
Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy
Rhys Ifans as Curt Connors/The Lizard
Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben
Sally Fields as Aunt May
Denis Leary as George Stacy
RELEASE DATE: July 3rd, 2012.
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