Alberto Mielgo’s credit on Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is “visual consultant,” which doesn’t adequately begin to capture the influence that he had on the look and feel of the stunning and newly Oscar-nominated film.
Mielgo, an industry veteran whose work we’ve been highlighting on this site for the last 12 years, was hired early in the pre-production stage of the film to direct its first animation test. He’s written more extensively about his assignment here.
The test was never completed — only four shots were fully finished — but looking at the finished film, there can be no doubt that Mielgo’s early work played a key role in establishing Spider-Verse’s unique visual language and inspiring the out-of-the-box approach that has been highly praised since the movie’s release.
On his personal Vimeo account, Mielgo recently shared three different versions of his storyboards and animatics that he developed for the first test of the film. You can watch the animatic tests below, which Mielgo explains was an attempt “to explore the language of comics and cinema and merge them together.” He further adds that the three approaches are different in tone because he “was not too sure yet what would be the final mood of this film.”
According to Daniel Caylor, one of the animators on the film, Mielgo’s animatics were widely seen by the animation crew before they started working on the film. Caylor wrote on Twitter, “When animators started on Spider-Verse THIS piece by Alberto Mielgo is the first thing we were shown. It immediately sucked us #intothespiderverse and grounded us in Miles world. Imagine watching this right before you started animating…Yeah we were pretty jacked up!”
Looking at these animatics, it’s really quite incredible how much of the filmmaking template was inspired by Mielgo’s dynamism and his approach to framing, composition, and cutting in this early treatment.
⭐️Sequence code name: MRU – Miles Rises Up⭐️
Boards: Alberto Mielgo
Animation: Sungmin Hong, Andrew Hudec, Robin George, Derek Esparza, Kiran Babla @Deweythesecond , Jeff Panko, Emma Cartwright, Philip Rudolph#SpiderVerse #IntoTheSpiderVerse pic.twitter.com/WoNEIKdbbc
— Nick Kondo 近藤 (@NickTyson) January 24, 2019
This can be said without discounting anyone else’s work either; as I’ve written before in regard to Spider-Verse, every other person in every other department who worked on the production deserves loads of credit for “plussing” these concepts and turning them into a fully-formed cg vision.
That’s because it’s not just Mielgo’s vision that’s amazing, but that they maintained this initial creative spark throughout the whole process. The natural state of commercial animation production is standardization and homogenization, and to end up with something like Spider-Verse, the entire crew has to be aware of and constantly fight off those gentrifying forces that seep into major productions. Kudos go all around to everyone involved in the making of this film.