During a roundtable interview for Wes Anderson‘s Isle of Dogs at the ongoing 68th Berlin International Film Festival, our own Steve Weintraub had a chance to ask the stop-motion movie’s star Liev Schreiber a couple of questions about another highly anticipated animated project he’s appearing in: Sony Pictures Animation’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. While Isle of Dogs is already receiving early critical praise ahead of its March 23rd release, we’ll have to wait until much later this year to find out just how the Miles Morales-focused animated superhero story is shaping up.
In fact, we don’t yet know just what role Schreiber is even voicing in the picture, or whether his character is an ally or antagonist when it comes to his relationship to the title character, voiced by Shameik Moore. The Ray Donovan star–who did shed some light on the upcoming season–was, understandably, tight-lipped about revealing too much, but he did comment on just how long the recording process took him and what it was about the animation style that drew him to the project. He also let slip one interesting fact that should please the cinephiles and animation fans out there…
What was it about that project that made you say, “I want to do this,”?
Schreiber: It was actually the animation team. The guys who are working on it, I saw their work and said, “Wow! These guys are special.” And it is. It’s going to be pretty special, from what I’ve seen so far. And I haven’t seen much, but it’s pretty special. They’re super-talented. And just working with them in the brief time that we did on my stuff, I’ve been in a bunch of these different situations, and these guys have their ducks in a row. And they’re collaborative. They know what they want and they’re clear, they’ve got all their sequences and their animatics, but you come up at them with a creative idea and they shift, they do it nimbly and with great execution.
It looks like it’s inside a comic book, the animation.
Schreiber: Yeah! That’s what I love about it. But it also is anamorphic … ooo I don’t know if I should have said that. [laughs] If you know something about film, that’s an amazing thing for an animated film to do that well. Anamorphic is the stretched-out format and it really is a much broader, bigger canvas, which is unusual for animation because you’re generally trying to focus the action. These guys have decided to go anamorphic with it and it’s stunning. If you’ve seen that trailer, you already get a sense of what it is.
If you want a better idea of what makes up an anamorphic shot and how those films play out on screen, you can take a look at ARRI’s breakdown of the approach’s elements:
Filmmakers and audiences alike have grown up with the uniquely cinematic anamorphic look and associate it with the emotional impact of big-screen movies. The sheer width and clarity of the format, its shallow depth of field, the way it handles out of focus backgrounds and flares, all of these have been burned into the subconscious of cinema-goers for over half a century.
Now, take a look at the trailer for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to see where that technique applies:
Pretty cool idea for an animated film. We’ll see how well this approach works when the full feature drops December 14th.
Schreiber went on to talk about his time spent in the recording booth for both Isle of Dogs and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: