Fxguide has posted a comprehensive (and I mean comprehensive!) behind the scenes study of the visual effects of ‘Gravity’.
fxguide first sat down with Tim Webber at the end of 2006, to discuss his VFX supervision for the birth sequence in the 2007 film Children of Men, also directed by Alfonso Cuarón. The team then had to produce a photoreal digital child being born, again in one long continuous shot, in a small room. At the time fxguide stated that “All the work is impressive and the digital baby is perhaps the finest work of its type done so far.” The work in that film was remarkable but at least the environment was real. With Gravity, not only was the screen time much longer, it also required vast digital sets and the added complication of zero gravity.
Films have tackled zero-G before, most notably on Apollo 13. However, Ron Howard’s solution would not work for Alfonso Cuarón’s shooting style. “Apollo 13 is one of the few films that has done it very well, I think,” says Webber. “They used the vomit comet where you can just about get away with a five second shot for, maybe a little bit longer. Then you’d cut to a close-up and they’d just be standing on a apple box wobbling around and it would work for a close-up for 10 seconds and then they’d do something else for another bit.”
The Gravity team tested a number of systems (see below), with the final solution to have a small number of sets and then a LED ‘light box’ set used for the complex zero gravity work. Here, the actors, primarily Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, were filmed acting inside the box that had projected from it the correct environment the actor was meant to be in. Thus, if the actor was meant to have the earth providing bounce light from their left, on the screen on that side of their body was a giant earth image, digitally controlled and correctly aligned.
Read the entire article here.