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Just a Little Weight Loss Can Put Diabetes Into Remission

FRIDAY, Oct. 4, 2019 — British researchers have good news for people with type 2 diabetes — you don’t need to lose a ton of weight to make a difference in your health.

In fact, they found that losing just 10% of your body weight during the first five years you have the disease can lead to remission of type 2 diabetes. That weight loss would be 18 pounds for someone who weighs 180 pounds.

It doesn’t matter what diet helps you lose the weight. And it doesn’t matter how slow or how quickly those pounds come off, the investigators found.

“Even small amounts of weight loss can help you achieve remission. Extreme dieting and exercising are not necessary,” said study author Dr. Hajira Dambha-Miller, a general practice physician and clinical lecturer at the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, in the United Kingdom.

“Type 2 diabetes should no longer be seen as a lifelong disease,” she added. The disease can essentially be cured if you lose weight and keep it off, according to Dambha-Miller.

The researchers said that type 2 diabetes affects 400 million people around the world. It’s typically considered a chronic, progressive disease. But significant weight loss through extreme dieting (less than 700 calories a day) can bring about remission in almost 90% of people with type 2 diabetes, the study authors noted. Weight-loss surgery also tends to bring on remission.

Intensive exercise coupled with a modest weight loss of 7% or less of body weight brought on remission in almost 12% of people in one study, according to the new report.

But maybe bringing on remission didn’t need to be so hard, the researchers surmised.

“The existing evidence for achieving remission suggests extreme levels of exercise and rather restrictive diets. This is simply not realistic or achievable for my patients, especially in the longer term,” Dambha-Miller said.

“It is also demotivating for my patients when they are unable to achieve large amounts of weight loss. Accordingly, we decided to look at modest weight loss over a longer period in a real-world population without any crazy diet or exercise requirements,” she explained.

For the new study, the researchers followed the health of almost 900 people newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for five years. The study participants, aged 40 to 69, provided information on weight, activity levels, diet and alcohol consumption.

Thirty percent of the group had achieved type 2 diabetes remission at the five-year follow-up. Those who had achieved a 10% weight loss were 77% more likely to be in remission after five years, the findings showed.

There was no specific intervention in the study. “This means there were no mandatory exercise or dietary requirements. All our participants did different things and still managed to lose weight and beat diabetes into remission,” Dambha-Miller said.

She said that experts don’t know exactly how losing weight helps, but they hypothesize that as people lose weight, the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin start to work again. That means the body can properly use sugar from foods instead of letting it build up in the blood.

Dr. Berhane Seyoum, chief of endocrinology at Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University in Michigan, wasn’t involved in the current research, but said the findings are encouraging.

“People with type 2 diabetes can be encouraged to lose weight, and it doesn’t matter how. They can do whatever is convenient for them. Controlling diabetes keeps you healthy, gives you more energy and makes you feel better,” he said.

Seyoum also noted that any amount of weight loss can help the body use insulin better and will help with diabetes management.

The study was published online recently in the journal Diabetic Medicine.

More information

Read more about weight loss and diabetes from the American Diabetes Association.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019

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However the World Health Organization also noted that more research is needed into how microplastics may impact human health and the environment, the Associated Press reported.

THURSDAY, Aug. 22, 2019 — Levels of microplastics in drinking water don’t appear to be a health risk, according to the World Health Organization.

However the U.N. health agency also noted that more research is needed into how microplastics may impact human health and the environment, the Associated Press reported.

Microplastics — tiny particles smaller than about one-fifth of an inch — are “ubiquitous in the environment” and have been found in drinking water, including tap and bottled, the WHO said in the report released Wednesday.

“But just because we’re ingesting them doesn’t mean we have a risk to human health,’ said Bruce Gordon, WHO’s coordinator of water, sanitation and hygiene, the AP reported.

“The main conclusion is, I think, if you are a consumer drinking bottled water or tap water, you shouldn’t necessarily be concerned,” according to Gordon.

However, he noted that available data on microplastics is “weak” and said more research is needed. He also called for increased efforts to reduce plastic pollution, the AP reported.

Microplastics in water don’t appear to be a health threat at the moment, but “I wouldn’t want people to go away with the idea that microplastics are no longer important,” said Andrew Mayes, a senior lecturer in chemistry at Britain’s University of East Anglia who wasn’t involved in the WHO report.

Microplastics might be damaging the environment and stronger measures to reduce plastic waste are needed, he told the AP.

“We know that these types of materials cause stress to small organisms,” Mayes said. “They could be doing a lot of damage in unseen ways.”

WebMD News from HealthDay

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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WebMD Health

Ask a Stoner: Infusing Cannabis Into a Daily Diet

Dear Stoner: I’ve recently come upon a lot of trim, and would like to make different kinds of cooking oils and eventually replace smoking with eating infused meals. Suggestions?
Let’s Eat

Dear Eater: You’re swimming in risky waters until you figure out how to dose yourself. Making infused butter or cooking oils with trim (or any homegrown cannabis) is hard to measure unless you bought it from a dispensary with the THC or CBD testing results on it. If you did, weigh out your trim, then calculate your cannabinoid percentage based on 1,000 milligrams per gram. If it is homegrown or untested, then you’ll have to play guinea pig.

Cooking with cannabis is both art and science.

Cooking with cannabis is both art and science.

Westword archive

Upon calculating dosage, make several different types of fats for cooking (butter, vegetable oil and olive oil, depending on how much pot you have), then start thinking about ways to include them in your daily meals — scrambled eggs, salad, baked chicken and so on. There’s no limit to dishes that require butter or oil, so think beyond baked goods. Peanut butter (or anything with a lot of fat) is another easy infusion option for daily consumption. It’s a layer science added to the art of cooking, but once you figure it out, smoking will be in the rearview.

Marijuana Deals Near You

Send questions to marijuana@westword.com.


Toke of the Town

Team Sports Could Help Traumatized Kids Grow Into Healthy Adults

By Maureen Salamon

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 30, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Coming from a broken home or suffering abuse can traumatize a child, but new research suggests team sports might be just the medicine these kids need.

Tracking U.S. health data from nearly 10,000 people, researchers found that teens who experienced childhood trauma and played team sports had lower odds of depression and anxiety as young adults.

“As a pediatrician going through training, you see a lot of children and families who face these challenges, and often we don’t have medical prescriptions to recommend,” said study author Dr. Molly Easterlin. She’s a clinical instructor in pediatrics at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and a fellow of the UCLA National Clinician Scholars Program in Los Angeles.

“Medications don’t necessarily treat these experiences and the mental health outcomes that result,” Easterlin added. “So, trying to find other interventions that may be effective is important.”

Physical and mental health problems are more common throughout life for people who’ve faced adverse childhood experiences, such as physical and sexual abuse, emotional neglect, parental alcohol abuse, parental incarceration or living with a single parent, prior research has shown.

About half of all American children experience one of these traumas and one-quarter experience two or more, according to the study authors. But little research had examined what factors improve health outcomes for children exposed to adverse situations.

Easterlin and her colleagues used the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health to compare the prevalence of three different adult mental health problems — including a depression or anxiety diagnosis or depressive symptoms — among 9,668 people with adverse childhood experiences who did and didn’t participate in team sports during adolescence.

By early adulthood (ages 24 to 32), those who’d participated in team sports between grades 7 and 12 had better mental health outcomes, the findings showed. About 17% had been diagnosed with depression, compared with 22% of peers who hadn’t played team sports, while about 12% received an anxiety diagnosis versus 17% of their peers.

Meanwhile, nearly 22% of those who’d played team sports during adolescence had current depressive symptoms, compared to 27.5% of peers who hadn’t played team sports.

Continued

Why the difference? Easterlin said team sports can increase self-esteem and help vulnerable adolescents feel socially accepted and connected to their school environment. All of these benefits can contribute to a sense of resilience, she added.

Amanda Paluch is a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. She said it’s “really striking” how far into the future team sports participation can affect mental health among children facing childhood trauma.

But it makes sense, she said, not only because team sports foster personal qualities but also because it provides positive role models in coaches and peers.

“Students who might be experiencing adverse child experiences might not have those role models in their life. And, therefore, this can help them become more resilient,” said Paluch, who co-authored an editorial accompanying the study.

Paluch and Easterlin agreed that, given the apparent mental health benefits, team sports participation should be made affordable for adolescents from all family income levels. Currently, expensive tryout leagues are common, with certain sports facilities off-limits to those unable to pay high fees, they said.

Easterlin said the findings should also spur pediatricians, parents and community members to promote team sports participation for these kids, along with “other programs that provide psychological and social support.”

The study was published online May 28 in JAMA Pediatrics.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Molly Easterlin, M.D., fellow, UCLA National Clinician Scholars Program, and clinical instructor, pediatrics, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles; Amanda Paluch, Ph.D., postdoctoral research fellow, department of preventive medicine, Center for Translational Metabolism and Health, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago; May 28, 2019,JAMA Pediatrics, online

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Political Donations Pouring Into Florida by the Millions

Marijuana companies are stepping up and supporting the Florida lawmakers by donating gobs of money into their political campaigns with medical marijuana a hot topic in the Sunshine State.  Cannabis corporations licensed in the state of Florida have donated at least $ 2.5 million to political parties and lawmakers, according to a story in the Miami Herald.

After Gov. Rick Scott put his John Hancock on a bill that regulated the rather ripe Florida market so that patients could be using oils by prescription, as well as creams and vapes, but with a hard cap limiting store fronts and a ban on smoking flower, about two thirds of the donations came pouring in.

Millions in Donations are Made to Florida Politicians

The Democratic and Republican parties on Florida dually took in $ 517,000 from licensed cannabis corporations and their brass in Florida.  Another $ 650,000 made it to the past, current, and odds on favorites to be future presidents in the Florida Senate was donated as well.

The biggest donor was a cannabis company with affiliation to Surterra, and the donation was $ 50,000 which went to Gov. Ron Desantis.

Low THC products were first allowed in 2014, and there are only a handful of companies that got in the mix, have given very “prolifically.”

Surterra has donated $ 1.1 million dating back to 2016.  

Curaleaf, based in South Miami-Dade, has given $ 469,000.  

With Florida not yet approving the sale and use of recreational marijuana, this is going to be an interesting state to follow.  As a massive state with a huge retirement populace, it’s also something that I firmly believe will be going on a county by county vote to have recreational marijuana. I just don’t see the old timers in certain areas meshing with the youth in other areas and co-existing when it comes to having weed right there out in the open.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I know the landscape well and see that happening.

Take Miami, a very Latin-influenced and small business oriented City.  I see it doing very well with marijuana, much like Las Vegas marijuana business.

However, I don’t see Lee County and other places like Fort Myers, with a big midwest influence, having the same landscape.

Time will tell, and this will be an interesting state to follow.

Political Donations Pouring Into Florida by the Millions

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Shane Dwyer
Author: Shane Dwyer
Shane Dwyer is a cannabis advocate who isn’t afraid to tell the world about it! You can find his views, rants, and tips published regularly at The 420 Times.

Marijuana & Cannabis News – The 420 Times

Martha Stewart Gets Into the Cannabis Business

Maybe all that time she spent with Snoop Dogg turned Martha Stewart into a fan of Cannabis, or maybe she’s just realizing how big her empire can be if she gets into the booming Cannabis business. Whatever her reasoning, it’s awesome to announce that Martha Stewart is officially in the Cannabis business.

Martha Stewart Partners With Canopy Growth Corporation

The 77 year old Stewart is well known for helping people with all sorts of household issues, but now, she’s going to take her brand into our space, as she’s partnered with Canopy Growth Corporation.  Many media outlets have reported this, including Forbes and Fox Business.

Folks, we’ve made the mainstream.  We’re here.  I’ve always known we were here, but we’re done with the edgy celebrities, the whackos, and the greedy businessman who enter a market for cash, and we’ve reached a point where someone who could be all of our sweet Grandma’s is now firmly entrenched in our business.  BOOM! 

She’s reportedly assisting with crafting a variety of products for animals and humans.

With recreational marijuana being 100% legal in 10 States, with four others right behind them, we’re seeing a huge number of business moves being made in this space.  It’s getting hard to keep up with all of the new launches of product lines, mega dispensaries, and rumors like Whole Foods getting into the marijuana business.  It’s also encouraging that one study has 17% of the US population using cannabis on a regular basis.

Breakdown of Cannabis Users in the USA

Cannabis

In other mainstreamers joining in the booming market, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, has come onto the board of Acreage Holdings, a business working in cannabis in many states.  He’s been on record stating that he is against throwing people in jail for having possession of small amounts of pot.

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, she has been hanging out with Snoop Dogg, who has his own cannabis line and is a huge pot smoker.  He once famously said he smoked pot in front of the White House!

When pressed for comments, she said that she has been asked to “design recipes an ointments for humans and animals like cats and dogs.”

(Source:  Hollywood Reporter.)

Related:  find a CBD oil for your cat or dog on this page.

Canopy is headquartered in Smiths Falls, Ontario.  More news on this story as it becomes available.

Martha Stewart Gets Into the Cannabis Business

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Shane Dwyer
Author: Shane Dwyer
Shane Dwyer is a cannabis advocate who isn’t afraid to tell the world about it! You can find his views, rants, and tips published regularly at The 420 Times.

Marijuana & Cannabis News – The 420 Times

Keytruda May Help Put Melanoma Into Remission

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Feb. 26, 2019 (HealthDay News) — For people with the deadly skin cancer melanoma, one dose of the drug Keytruda before surgery might stop the cancer in its tracks, according to a groundbreaking new study.

Keytruda (pembrolizumab) is a PD-1 inhibitor, an immunotherapy drug that triggers the body’s immune response to attack cancer cells. According to results of this study, the drug’s effects peak as early as seven days after treatment — much earlier than previously seen in other studies.

Moreover, patients who had a year of this immunotherapy treatment after surgery were free of their cancer for more than two years, the longest follow-up so far on patients with melanoma.

“Anti-PD-1 works extremely rapidly, achieving immunological responses peaking in most patients within one to three weeks,” said study co-author John Wherry. He’s director of the Penn Institute for Immunology at the University of Pennsylvania.

About a third of the patients were “essentially cured within three weeks, highlighting the rapidity of immunotherapy for cancer,” Wherry said.

And in those patients whose cancer returned, researchers found revealing patterns in the way cancer adapts to the drug — discoveries that could lead to better ways to treat such patients.

Keytruda is the drug responsible for the remission of former President Jimmy Carter’s cancer in 2015. Carter, then 90, had melanoma that spread to his brain and liver. Treatment with Keytruda appears to have cured him.

The drug isn’t cheap, costing about $ 150,000 a year. Keytruda is covered by most insurance, including Medicare, but copays can be high, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

For the study, researchers gave 27 patients with advanced melanoma a single dose of Keytruda three weeks before surgery.

Eight patients had what researchers described as a complete response, meaning less than 10 percent of the cancer cells remained at the time of surgery. All eight remained cancer-free for up to 25 months of follow-up.

Researchers also investigated how tumor cells in patients whose cancer returned were able to develop a resistance to Keytruda. The investigators found two causes — tumor mutations and increased activity of cells that naturally suppress the immune system.

Continued

Knowing the factors that cause a lack of response to the drug may help to identify patients who might benefit from other therapies in combination with PD-1, Wherry said.

Dr. Steven Savona, a physician at Northwell Health’s Monter Cancer Center in Lake Success, N.Y., was not involved with the study, but reviewed the findings. He said the fast-acting immune response offers a new approach to a disease that used to be approachable only with surgery.

Savona said it could make the surgery simpler, and if used in combination with other treatments, surgery might not even be necessary for some patients.

“This might be a new approach for patients with limited but advanced melanoma, but we do need additional testing to prove that,” said Savona.

Merck, Inc., maker of Keytruda, supplied the drug for the study but did not fund the trial.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 96,000 new melanomas will be diagnosed in the United States this year, and 7,200 people will die from the disease.

Standard treatment includes surgery followed by a year of drug treatment in high-risk patients.

The report was published Feb. 25 in the journal Nature Medicine.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: John Wherry, Ph.D., director, Penn Institute for Immunology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Steven Savona, M.D., Northwell Health’s Monter Cancer Center, Lake Success, N.Y.;Nature Medicine, Feb. 25, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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‘Boonie Bears: Blast into the Past’ Hits $100M Box Office Milestone

Leading Chinese feature CG studio Fantawild has found further success with its sixth theatrical outing, Boonie Bears: Blast into the Past. Having premiered on February 5, the first day of Chinese New Year, the franchise flick has continued to draw audiences and has surpassed 675 million CNY (over $ 100 million USD) as of February 21.

Boonie Bears: Blast into the Past follows the bear brothers Briar and Bramble and their friend Vick on an accidental journey into the primitive age. On their search for the way back to the 21st century, they encounter all kinds of dangers and exotic animals like wild boars, giant turtles … and adorable pandas.

The film is the only fully-animated offering in cinemas during the holiday, ranking fourth in the overall China box office and outperforming animation/live-action movie Peppa Pig Celebrates Chinese New Year (122M CNY / $ 18M USD). Blast into the Past has broken the record set by the preceding film, Boonie Bears: The Big Shrink (605M CNY), also surpassing the Chinese box office of Kung Fu Panda 2 (613M CNY).

The time-traveling comedy adventure is rated 9.2 on Maoyan, a major Chinese film rating and ticket purchasing platform. This performance is only second to the Chinese sci-fi blockbuster The Wandering Earth, among all the films released in theaters during the Chinese New Year season.

Last week, Blast into the Past opened in Singapore on Valentine’s Day at Filmgarde Cineplexes. This is the first time a Boonie Bears movie had a synchronized international release. In addition, the film has been pre-sold to Canada, Latin America, Malaysia, and Cambodia.

Fantawild is bringing the film and the rest of its catalog to all the major content markets and licensing expos, including the recently concluded Berlinale Film Festival and Kidscreen Summit, Hong Kong International Film & TV Market, MIPTV, Le Marché du Film in Cannes and Licensing Expo Las Vegas in the first half of 2019.

Animation Magazine

‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ Takes 2019 Producers Guild Award

The 30th annual Producers Guild Awards, presented by Cadillac, were held Saturday in Los Angeles, celebrating the finest producing work in film and television of the past year. The year’s animated feature prize went to Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, produced by Avi Arad, Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, Amy Pascal and Christina Steinberg.

The 2019 special honorees were Toby Emmerich (Milestone Award), Kevin Feige (David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures), Amy Sherman-Palladino (Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television), Kenya Barris (Visionary Award), and Jane Fonda (Stanley Kramer Award).

The full list of 2019 PGA Award winners is available here.

The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures:
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
Crazy Rich Asians
The Favourite
WINNER: Green Book | Producers: Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga
A Quiet Place
Roma
A Star Is Born
Vice

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures:
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Ralph Breaks the Internet
WINNER: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse | Producers: Avi Arad, Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, Amy Pascal, Christina Steinberg

The Award for Outstanding Children’s Program:
Fuller House (Season 4)
PJ Masks (Season 2)
A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 2)
WINNER: Sesame Street (Season 48)
Teen Titans Go! (Season 4)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse producers

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse producers

Animation Magazine

‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’: Spinning a Stunning Web

Sony Pictures Animation’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse delivers a fantastic looking adventure, featuring many diverse versions of Marvel’s beloved webslinger.

A few years ago, when the hot writing/producing team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller were approached by Sony Pictures Animation to work on a new Spider-Man project, they knew that they didn’t want to see just another run-of-the mill superhero movie. They wanted the pic to look fantastic and pay homage to classic comic books of the Golden Era. They also didn’t want to repeat any of the old Peter Parker scenarios.

“We always felt like the magic of this character is that anyone could be behind that mask,” explains Lord, who co-wrote the screenplay with director Rodney Rothman. “One of the reasons we fell in love with Miles Morales from the comics is that writer Brian Bendis put a completely new character back there. He’s from Brooklyn, he’s got a strong family, he’s a little bit younger. So, we just thought it was a great way to remix the Spider-Man story and tell it from a different point of view.”

Phil Lord Shameik Moore Chris Miller

Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rothman, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse follows the adventures of young Miles Morales, who discovers the limitless possibilities and challenges of being a superhero. As he tries to fit into a new school he learns about his strange new powers and the fantastic new multi-verse where different versions of Spider-man co-exist. He soon finds himself being mentored by the original Peter Parker as he tries to save the world from classic, powerful villains from the Spider-Man multiverse.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse allowed the filmmakers to add new dimensions to Marvel’s beloved web-slinging character, who was first introduced by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1962. “We are all lucky to have been able to work on this phenomenal property that has such a huge audience invested in it,” say Persichetti (head of story on The Little Prince and Puss in Boots). “That’s why we could be bolder with our visual choices and make the movie look different from what a summer or winter blockbuster is expected to look like. Our goal was to expand the visual style and color palettes, and deliver a movie that might seem different than any of the other CG-animated movies we have seen in the past. One of the strengths of the comic is that it manages to encapsulate in one image a really synched, powerful story point, motion or action. In our process of animation, we tried to achieve that same thing.”

“It’s just like that, everybody in your life might be putting on that mask in the evening. We all have to choose to be heroic in whatever way is unique to us and that’s ultimately what Miles figures out.”

  • Writer/producer Phil Lord

Led by the directors, the artists and visual effects team at Sony Pictures Imageworks experimented with a dazzling visual style that pays homage to the look of vintage comic books. As director Peter Ramsey (Rise of the Guardians) explains, “Of course, dozens of Marvel movies lean on that look while telling a cinematic story, but I can’t think of any other animated film that make this much of a visual statement. That’s why audiences have had such a great reaction to the film’s original trailer and clips so far.”

Ramsey, one of the top African-American directors working in animation today, says it has been especially rewarding to work on a film centered on a superhero that comes from a diverse background. “Until recently, the scarcity of heroes and lead characters that are not white has always been a bit of a subtle mental stumbling block for people of color,” he shares. “I believe that the introduction of Miles Morales as Spider-Man sparked a renaissance and a trend to reimagine and feature characters that are not white and not male. That’s the story we set out to tell.”

Rob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

For director Rodney Rothman (writer on 22 Jump Street), the movie has a lot in common with a meticulously planned, epic live-action project. “Every frame had to be carefully crafted,” he explains. “Our general approach was to push every aspect of the movie in a way that we haven’t seen before. In terms of story, just like the original graphic novel, it’s all about Miles Morales’ story, his family and their relationship. We have all these exciting elements of a superhero movie and the various characters and various possibilities of the multiverse, but the heart of the movie is all about Miles’ relationship with his family.”

Visuals That Pop

One of the special things about the new movie is that it uses CG animation in a way that has never been seen in a movie before. As Miller points out, “I think Spider-Verse’s really unique visual style is something that has never been done before. And animation is such a perfect medium to do that. This movie has really pushed the boundaries of what’s just technically possible in order to make it feel like every frame is a painting. The people at Imageworks did an amazing job: our production designer Justin Thompson and the whole team are such talented artists and their love and their talent and passion shows in every frame of this movie.”

“I looked at the early development art that had been created for the movie and felt that, while they were quite beautiful, we could really go farther and explore the comic-book language more,” says Thompson. “I learned how to draw by emulating the artwork I loved in comics, and Spider-Man was a character that I loved from an early age. That’s why I was really excited when Chris and Phil told me, ‘What if you were given carte blanche and could make an animated movie based on a comic book … What have other movies always got wrong? What would you do instead?’”

Thompson says what most movies often get wrong is how super slick and glossy their comic-book universes look. “Comic books are actually quite gritty in the way they’re made,” he points out. “One of the things that appealed to me as a young boy was that I felt as if they gave me a window though a mysterious, darker world. The superheroes were dealing with the same problems that I was dealing with, but the stakes were much higher. Miles’ actions lead to the death of someone very dear to him, and we didn’t want to downplay it. We didn’t want to shortchange that and turn this into a family film where everything is brightly lit and cheerful.”

The technical wizards at Sony Pictures Imageworks set out to recreate the tactile, granular feeling of graphic novels, even going as far as recreating the dot-printing process used in older comic books. “You really feel the artistry as you turned the page,” recalls Thompson. “I know that one thing the computer does really well is realism. But we wanted to bring our own distorted version of reality to animated life.”

“Until recently, the scarcity of heroes and lead characters that are not white has always been a bit of a subtle mental stumbling block for people of color … I believe that the introduction of Miles Morales as Spider-Man sparked a renaissance and a trend to reimagine and feature characters that are not white and not male. That’s the story we set out to tell.”

  • Director Peter Ramsey

Thompson points out the result of their work is a completely fresh CG-animated movie that looks like nothing audiences have seen in the past. In fact, each frame of the movie took four times as long to make than a frame of a typical animated movie. “Our goal was to break the traditional CG rules where everything is exact, photoreal and perfect,” he notes. “We wanted to invent our own unique visual language, rich with its own stylistic elements, color palette and shapes — a world where you can definitely notice the choices made by the artists in every frame.”

Playing with Textures and Lighting

As art director Dean Gordon, who also worked on the two Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movies with Lord and Miller, explains, “The nature of technology and 3D tends to fight the graphic look. We worked on painting the textures and mapping them on to get a grittier feel through the film. We used gradation and broke down color values into areas and created shorter transitions between them to get a more illustrative feel in the scenes. We brought the same ideas for the characters’ skin tones. Having the skin tones fit in the same environment and use the same hatchings we see in comics elevated that illustrative element.”

Another way to get the comic-book feel was to play with the lighting of scenes throughout the movie. “There’s a tendency in animated movies to go for bright lighting,” says art director Patrick O’Keefe. “We looked at a lot of different kinds of photography and looked carefully at the way light bleeds into the edges of the film. We were allowed to go as dark as the sequence needed to be. A character might be in a black silhouette with rim lighting. We used dark shapes, with just glimpses of light in the darkness. It really extended the range of what we can put up on the screen.”

Senior animation supervisor Joshua Beveridge, an alum of many movies at Sony — including Open Season, Surf’s Up, Cloudy 1 and 2, Arthur Christmas and Hotel Transylvania 1 and 2 — points out, “Our big challenge was creating that balance between being cartoony and realistic. To deliver the best representation of comic books to animated life, we had to break and overhaul our way of looking at things. It led us to frame modulation to get this crunchy, crispy version of pop art. When you do Spider-Man in live action, it never feels completely believable because we had to deal with real physics to put him in these fantastic poses. But animation allows us to break physics. You don’t want to be too choppy and not too smooth. You want crisp pop with aggressive clarity. At Sony Pictures Imageworks, we have an amazing robust pipeline, and I think we have forever altered our pipeline thanks to this project.”

Head of story Paul Watling (Hotel Transylvania 2, Smurfs: The Lost Village) says animation allowed the film to have many advantages over the live-action versions of the franchise.

“We would really push the visuals in ways that live action just can’t,” Watling points out. “There’s a sequence in the movie where Miles and Peter are involved in this above-ground train chase, where one character is attached to the other. It was a story artist’s dream because we were given an empty sandbox and allowed to build the coolest sand castle. The filmmakers weren’t pulling any punches. They kept encouraging us to go further, and we pushed ourselves as much as possible. We threw everything we could possibly could at them, in terms of camera angles, moving frames, comedic elements, police cars hot on their trail to add this sense of urgency — as well as slapstick elements added on. I don’t think we’ve ever seen Spider-Man like this before.”

Harnessing Powerful Technologies

Imageworks veteran Danny Dimian, who is Into the Spider-Verse’s vfx supervisor, sees

The film’s creative journey as a natural evolution of what the studio has been able to achieve over the past two decades. “This return to Spider-Man reminds me of our work on The Hollow Man (2000),” says Dimian. “Back then, what we were trying to do wasn’t readily available off the shelves, so we had to rethink everything. This time, though, we are not writing the software from scratch. We are trying to find a new technique to tell the story.

“One of the strengths of the comic is that it manages to encapsulate in one image a really synched, powerful story point, motion or action. In our process of animation, we tried to achieve that same thing.”

  • Director Bob Persichetti

Dimian — whose many credits include the 2002 Spider-Man, Stuart Little 2, The Polar Express, Surf’s Up and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs — says the technical team tried to stray away from the rigid formality associated with CG animation. “Computers do everything correctly and you have the right perspective and geometry all the time,” he points out. “What’s interesting about art is all the imperfections that go hand in hand with a human creating things. We had to find a way to break things.”

Among the many stylistic ways the tech team paid homage to old comic books was emulating the way color offsets were not aligned properly in some prints of the run. “We took that as an opportunity to explore how to play with focuses in a scene,” says Dimian. “It was hard to focus on an image when all the color passes were not properly aligned. We thought, ‘What if the camera didn’t de-focus like a lens?’ So, we splintered and offset the image in a way that is similar to a misprint. It has a really cool feel to it that creates this illusion that something is printed on the screen.”

Thompson says that throughout the process, the goal was to keep the comic-book aesthetic alive and well with the aid of the latest in 3D technologies. “Ideally, we want to be able to stop every frame of the film and have it look like an illustration,” he concludes. “We don’t want it to look great only in the wide shots. The dots, the screentones, the panels, the way everything works in a 3D space — it is trippy because it’s all about making you feel like you’re living inside a comic book.”

At the end of the day, the new film’s artistic creators are pleased that all the visual razzle dazzle and technical achievements are serving a story that has a powerful message. “The problematic thing about superhero comics and movies is that they can tell you that someone else is going to come and save you,” says Lord. “I think that the neat thing about having a movie with a bunch of Spider-people in it is you understand that it democratizes everything … That it can happen to any of us, right? It’s just like that, everybody in your life might be putting on that mask in the evening. I want young people to understand that it’s up to them. That they cannot wait to be chosen. And that it’s not a birthright. We all have to choose to be heroic in whatever way is unique to us and that’s ultimately what Miles figures out.”

Sony Pictures Animation’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse swings into theaters on December 14.

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