How Did Gravity Do That? The Secrets Behind Its Groundbreaking Special Effects
"The day before we were shooting, the robot went right through the dummy that was in the rig, in the light box. A two ton robot. If it had been Sandy, it wouldn’t be pretty."
Many producers wouldn't exactly want to brag about the on-set accidents that could have decapitated the Oscar-winning actress at the center of their movie. But David Heyman has many, many reasons to brag. The Harry Potter producer, who ended the franchise in 2011 with all the money and clout in the world to burn, has minted his next hit with Gravity, the meticulously crafted sci-fi adventure from Alfonso Cuaron that is busy demolishing box office records. He feels OK telling you about the two-ton robot that could have killed Sandra Bullock because he knows that the end result worked. If you didn't walk out of Gravity asking yourself "How did they do that?" you're either not paying attention or maybe Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
So how did they do it? We pressed Heyman for as many details as we could get and combed through interviews that Cuaron and Sandra Bullock have given to figure out as many secrets from behind the scenes as possible. SPOILERS AHEAD for Gravity, though truly, it's more the technology that's being spoiled. See the film and be completely baffled by how they pulled it off, then read below to peek behind the technological curtain.
Inventing technology The four-year process that Gravity took to come to life involved plenty of typical filmmaking challenges, but also the process of actually inventing technology to make the movie possible. As Heyman tells us, "It’s not a film that could have been made before now." At the Telluride Film Festival earlier this year Cuaron called the film "a big miscalculation," and remembered telling his cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki " 'Look: this is a small movie, two characters, we’re done in one year.' And for the next four-and-a-half years, he reminded me that I told him that." When Cuaron and Lubezki started the process of actually mapping out the film, "it became very clear that the technology to create the film didn’t exist, so we had to invent the technology."
"It was a great leap into the unknown," Heyman tells us, just before confessing to that story about the camera robot that destroyed the dummy. "All of the technology, you know, when we began the process, we had no idea what we were doing. It was a process of discovery."
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