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Frames of Time...

079_04 - Spider-Man 2
I decided to cash in, a bit belatedly, with all the hype on the Spider-Man sequel.

As discussed here, Back in the early 1990s, I was the producer of SPIDER-MAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. It was the first (and ironically last) series from Marvel Films Animation. For four years, a talented crew labored on the series under the guidance of Bob Richardson, shown here with Spider-Man.

Bob was one of the old-time perfectionists. He had come up through the ranks from animator in the 1960s to director and finally to producer. I first met Bob when he was producing MUPPET BABIES. It was for an interview in the original Get Animated! publication. Bob talked a bit of his background, but mostly of his eye to quality. He was aware of the limited budgets and schedules in TV production, but never wanted it to get in the way of the best series possible.

My next meeting was at Film Roman when he was brought in to work on CRO, the first animated series from Children's Television Workshop. It gave me a first hand look at Bob's ability to get 110% out of his crew. When Bob found someone having a problem completing a task up to his expectations, Bob would step right up to help them. Bob would explain what he wanted and even show a bit of how he wanted it to look.

Bob was also willing to work with new ideas and new people. Unlike some who insist on keeping a continuing circle of friends in his crew, Bob opened up to new talent. He was also keen at spotting talent. When a storyboard artist proved to be a weaker draftsman than needed, Bob looked at the work and realized the artist was strong on story and continuity. Bob re-assigned the artist to overseeing final boards for errors. They worked together and got tight, good finished boards for overseas.

Bob was equally open-minded with the new technologies. On Spider-Man it was decided that the series would be digital. He instantly began researching the process and brought in a number of folks to discuss how to set-up a department. When it was decided to add computer animation, again, he did not balk. He investigated a number of firms and found a videogame company that was trying to break into film. While some on the crew had doubts about the technology, Bob knew it was the future and he wanted to understand it.

But above all, Bob was an artist. He had worked on a Spider-Man series in the 1980s that he felt was artistically weak. Bob would say that the artists didn't understand how a person would really look or move in such a costume. To aid this new series, Bob got Stan Lee to send over the "official" Spider-Man performer used for personal appearances. Bob spent a day directing and posing the actor, taking video and still photos for reference. These photos were then printed out on large sheets for inspiration to board artists and designers.

When the Marvel Films Animation/FOX studio was closed down, Bob and I went different directions. I haven't bumped into him since. But I have heard of him working on various developments and production. I'm sure they will be unique... and well done.

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