Watch Gravity's Visual Effects Masters Explain How They Pulled Off One Deceptively Complex Shot
Between its thoughtful use of 3D and consideration for the theatrical setting, Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity is an unforgettable viewing experience that totally sucks you into the heart-stopping peril of being lost in space. Shouldering much of the film and its narrative alone, Sandra Bullock is already drawing Oscar buzz. But as sensational as her performance is, the true MVP of Gravity is the mind-bending visual effects that allowed audiences to get as close to the sensation of spiraling around space as we'd ever care to be.
We expect the vfx team behind Gravity will also earn an Oscar moment this winter. And to perhaps prove to us why they deserve it Prime Focus World has released this breathtaking behind-the-scenes featurette. It not only shows a step-by-step breakdown of how they created the astounding and seamless VFX and multiple layers for 3D, but also plays out as a brilliant commercial to any studio considering 3D conversion for upcoming projects.
In a seemingly simple shot of Bullock's astronaut looking over a manual in the escape shuttle, plenty of elements are added, including fields of depth for 3D, the backdrop of space through the window, the fog of frosty breath that escapes her lips, and the free-floating space helmet that bobs around in their faux zero gravity. Richard Baker (Creative Director, View-D™) and Matthew Bristowe (SVP, Production) give you the rundown on how all these disparate elements are woven together to create what we saw in theaters.
With Gravity taking place almost exclusively in zero gravity, Cuarón faced several daunting challenges in its creation. Before he took to the soundstage, this brilliant filmmaker pre-animated the entire film to as essentially a test of his concept. From there, technology needed to be invented to make the movie he envisioned, including a two-ton camera rig. Producer David Heyman explained, " "It was a great leap into the unknown. 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."
As you might suspect, CGI was a major tool for the feature; the only real element of Gravity's long opening shot was the faces of the actors within the computer created space suits. But to create the weightlessness effect of Bullock's heroine within the Russian space station, Cuarón went surprisingly low-tech, employing puppeteers from Broadway's War Horse to manipulate the actress's body as needed.
As the Academy Awards draw closer, we expect more in-depth looks behind the scenes of this technical wonder will make their way online. In the meantime, make sure to see Gravity in theaters. If you wait for DVD, you're be doing it wrong.
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