Behind The Scenes on Gravity
Director Alfonso Cuarón’s heart stopping Gravity is causing critics to say that they’re finally seeing a film where 3D is no longer a gimmick and that the best way to experience this film is in immersive IMAX 3D. This round up of production, post and visual effects behind the scenes insights will take you into the film’s gripping world.
With a movie like Gravity it’s hard to define exactly where pre-production, production and post production delineate and so the ways in which I’ve split all these resources up, might feel a little arbitrary.
Update: For an enjoyably anecdote laden write up on the making of Gravity this excellent article from DazedDigital is a great read.
To simulate free floating space cadets, Cuarón enlisted the help of automobile manufacturing technology. These robots usually deal in autos, which meant toting around a 5 foot 7 Sandra Bullock was effortless. They also have the precision of movement (hence the pre-vis and pre-programming) that even the steadiest grip couldn’t replicate for camerawork. “The night before we started shooting, nothing was working. The night before, we had a dummy there doing a test and the robot just went through the head like paow!”
This post from The Wrap offers some good quotes and insights into the making of the film which stretched over 4 and a half years and pushed the available technology to the limit, while the team wrestled with just how to achieve Cuarón’s ambitious vision.
They also constructed something called the “light box.” The 10 foot by 10 foot space was outfitted with more than 4,000 LED lightbulbs and functioned as a giant television screen. It allowed the effects team to play any computer graphics image they wanted in order to get the light from the sun, the stars and other celestial adornments just right. Roughly 60 percent of the film was shot in the box.
Cinematographer Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, ASC, AMC is interviewed on his ground-breaking work on the film in this short but meaty American Society of Cinematographers article. Extensive coverage of Gravity is available in the November edition of the ASC magazine which you can read here. Including an excellent breakdown of the file based workflow.
“On Gravity, a big part of my collaboration was to do the virtual lighting,” says Chivo. “I was lucky to be included in the movie that way. And virtual lighting is not more or less than the more conventional light we have always done. But it is every bit as important. And I think we are going to be doing more and more virtual lighting.”
For some great behind the scenes photographs check out this collection from Dreadcentral.com and for an long read on the inside story of the films production sit back and enjoy this superb article from Variety.
In the end, those behind the scenes agreed that the technology and prep succeeded in one crucial respect: It let the filmmakers — and the movie — zero in on Bullock’s performance, which is already being buzzed about.
“The shoot for me was those Eureka moments,” says Cuaron, recalling one particularly absorbing closeup of Bullock as Stone when the character is talking about her daughter. “You’re cool that the light actually worked this time?” he asked Lubezki. “Was everything in sync?” he queried Webber.
“The two of them said, ‘Of course. Forget about that. Do you see what just happened?’ Suddenly, with all that weight of technology, we were capturing a great performance. … It was those moments in which everything came together for what was the point of this film, the experience of a human up there.”