Lacombe animator dives into the Spider-Verse

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The next time you decide to swing into Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse, stick around for the credits and you might catch a Lacombian’s name listed among those who made the film possible.

Robin George was one of nine lead animators – and one of 700 people – who worked on the film which has now snagged a Golden Globe and an Oscar, in addition to achieving critical success.

“You never really know if it’s going to come together as a good movie until the end. We see the movie in different stages – we get sequences at a time….watching the movie formulate, you could tell something good was happening,” he said.

“There was something very special about it. There was something very special about the style – it was just a really cool, really unique style….I think most of us knew that it could be a very good movie.”

George, who grew up in Lacombe, had his first taste of animation when he was in high school at Parkview Adventist Academy. He said he just started messing around with different animation programs, but his “messing around” won him a film festival award for his work in 2002.

Eventually, he decided to pursue a career in animation by attending the Southern Adventist Academy in Tennessee.

Since, he’s been involved in with eight or nine different films, including Life of Pi, which won an Oscar for visual effects, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Smurfs,Hop, Hotel Transylvania and Storks.

Now, he works in Vancouver at Sony Imageworks, the studio behind Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse.

He spent 13 months on the film personally, including six months over overtime to help his team achieve the directors’ vision, through assigning shots, making sure art styles and matched and ensuring his team met deadlines – tasks that weren’t always easy.

The challenge of the film for the animators involved was the constant changing of styles, and work ending up on the cutting room floor as producers and directors strived to create a look that would make audiences feel like they were stepping into a comic book.

“This show had a very long pre-production process where they kept changing the art style and the story. Every movie does that, but this movie was a bit more extreme than most,” he said.

“This movie was unique because it kept changing while we working on it…We just had to roll with the punches.”

Worldwide, the film grossed over $375 million and had a $90 million budget. It also set a Sony Pictures Animation record for animators – using a crew of up to 140 animators.

George’s time on the project ended in about October of last year before the movie’s December release, but those involved had the opportunity to view the film in its complete form during a screening ahead of the movie’s official release.

“It was a relief,” he said of finally seeing the movie start to finish, while noting at that point reviews of the movie had already started to come in. “It felt good to be part of something that really excelled in what it was supposed to do.

“Spider-Man was a big part of my life…I’m proud of being part of it.”