Alfonso Cuarón is a Mexican born director, best known for his films Y Tu Mamá También, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Children of Men. His latest endeavour Gravity sees George Clooney and Sandra Bullock attempt to survive in space when high-speed debris strikes the Explorer and detaches Stone from the shuttle leaving her tumbling through space.
The Dissolve's review constructs a formidable intro into perhaps why this film visually breaks all boundaries of what is like to be in space.
In one of 2001: A Space Odyssey’s most chilling scenes, the once-helpful, now-murderous computer HAL decides his astronaut companions have become a liability. After sending one, Frank, outside the ship for an unnecessary repair, HAL uses a shuttle to clip the astronaut’s oxygen tube. Until this point, shots of Frank feature the sound of his breathing. Then, aside from a few cuts to Frank’s companion Dave watching the events unfold, the soundtrack goes silent. Frank flails for a bit; then his body floats away. He’s HAL’s victim, but he’s also a victim of the immutable laws of physics, and the limitations of a human body unequipped to survive in vacuum without technological protection. No one who’s seen the movie ever forgets that moment, but Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity suggests he’s spent more time thinking about it than most, wondering what it might be like for someone only slightly luckier than poor Frank to brave the abyss and stare down odds capable of going from slim to incalculable in the blink of an eye. Gravity suggests, too, that Cuarón has wondered about what it takes to survive, not just in terms of wits and strength, but what one would need to to defy instinctive terror and ignore the seeming inevitability of death.
Cuarón has assembled some of the leading talents within the industry to realise this vision.
Emmanuel Lubezki (Chivo) is one of the most notable Cinematographers in his field, his relationship with his childhood friend from Mexico, director Alfonso Cuarón, is truly one of the great partnerships in the history of the medium. If this sounds overblown, then you probably haven’t seen their work together, which can now be acclaimed, 22 years after their first feature film together, as one marked by a commitment to making films that are marvels of innovation, technique, and most importantly, visceral emotion.
Tim Webber is a VFX supervisor based out of the Framestore in London. His degree in Maths,Physics and Art provided a strong foundation to how he forged complicated lighting and camera moves that spearhead the way in which Gravity was pre visualised. The technicalities involved were so complex that the relationship between both the Cinematographer and VFX Supervisor were blurred, with both departments collaborating on the various problems each encountered.
Clearly, shooting in this way was going to mean that Gravity would be unlike any other film before it. That was something we were aware of as we were working on it, recalls Webber. It was clear because whenever a new person came to join in any department, not just in visual effects, it would kind of take two weeks before they could understand the process and the way the film worked. It was so different to any previous method of making a film, really. It took that long for people just to understand what we were talking about.
The FX_Guide have a informative article going into great detail on how the technicalities were achieved and overcome. A PodCast is also available to listen to where Tim Webber covers the main aspects that the Framestore had to resolve.
Bot & Dolly provided the Motion Control robots that allowed the pre visualised moves to come to life on set.
More than just a tool for camera control, IRIS is a platform for automating the entire set. Move lights, actors and set pieces in perfect synchronisation, then watch in real-time as they match your CG elements. Automate cues, trigger hardware and coordinate across departments, all from an intuitive touch interface.
The Box is a short film showcasing this technology, the robots definitely seem to have opened the creativity now available to all film makers.
Bot & Dolly produced this work to serve as both an artistic statement and technical demonstration. It is the culmination of multiple technologies, including large scale robotics, projection mapping, and software engineering. We believe this methodology has tremendous potential to radically transform theatrical presentations, and define new genres of expression
GRAVITY opens on November 8th, the bfi_IMAX is screening the 91 minute event in real3D.