Unlike his colleagues, Kyle Cooper, an Emmy winner, has Spider-Man experience, having designed the acclaimed title sequences for all three movies, and for many others besides. But this is his first Broadway show, and it came to him via his work with Julie Taymor on her films Titus (1999), Across the Universe (2007), and, as production ramped up, The Tempest (2010).
The Act II number “Sinistereo,” where the Green Goblin and his band of mutants, “The Sinister Six,” run amuck in Manhattan, is a projection highlight of the show, as is his “interpretation of the set as it moves in a Cubistic way” for another second act song, “The Boy Falls From the Sky,” where Peter Parker regains his powers. “There was a lot of awareness of George's set in the design of what we were doing, this comic book and forced perspective language that he was coming up with,” says Cooper. “The architecture of the animated material had to be consistent with the set.”
Cooper developed the sequences from his studio, Prologue, in Venice, CA, animating in Maya and Adobe After Effects. “With â€˜Sinistereo,' I went to New York and shot against bluescreen all the characters dancing and fighting, then brought it back to L.A. to key everything out and rotoscope it. I'd show Julie environments in which they could behave, and add, for example, animated lightning from the hands of Electro, or 3D blood from Carnage. We'd then composite all these layers in Flame.”
Projection coordinator Howard Werner (who is also credited with additional content design) got them up and running at the Foxwoods. “If you're working on a feature, it might look okay on a computer screen or TV monitor, but what does the Goblin's face look like 40' high? We'd screen, rework, and refine them. Julie was relentless about getting them right. And Howard was there onsite to slow down or invert or layer the animation.” (Cooper's work was completed before the show's spring hiatus, then edited by Werner to reflect changes to the book, notably the deletion of all references to international locales as “Sinistereo” was grounded in Manhattan.)
“Theatre is a moving target,” Cooper says of his experience. “It's more interactive. With the credits, I certainly interact with the director, but you can have a locked cut and a locked color correction, deliver it, and nothing changes. In the theater, however, when the actors interact with it and come out from behind the panels, you realize that it works differently each time. The sensibility is completely different, but I really enjoyed it.”