Complex Special Effects for Cuaron’s Gravity
Movie will be 60% CGI and feature a 17 minutes long opening shot . . .
Expect loads of CG animation in Gravity, the upcoming movie by Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in a story about two astronauts who are afloat in orbit around following a spacewalk accident. (See plot synopsis at the bottom.)
Release date is November 21st, 2012.
As reported earlier, the movie will feature an extended 20 minute opening scene and here’s what Chris deFaria, who oversees development of VFX and animation at Warners, had to say about it:
“I said, ‘How long?’ And he [Cuaron] said he wanted the first shot to be really long. And I said, ‘You mean, 40 seconds?’ ‘No, 17 minutes.’ So it ends up the film only has 156 shots in the entire two-hour movie, many of them six, eight, ten minutes long.”
This is contrast to your average two hour long Michael Bay movie which has about 1,300-1,500 shots.
Because 60% of the movie will be CGI deFaria and his team had to come up with a novel solution:
“Instead of trying to create real people and what they’re doing, let’s turn it around and create almost an entirely animated film and then backwards engineer the people into that film. As a matter of fact, let’s not even engineer the people into the film, let’s engineer their faces. So you’ve got these little faces inside these little helmets.”
According to deFaria the production proved to be quite challenging:
“When we began to bring in both the production designer and the DP we realized that we were committing to many things, not just shot design but lighting, direction, every prop, every single doorway, every single distance so that when we shot somebody’s eyes, they were converging at the right distance point. And we had a myriad of tools to deal with that. But we didn’t create the virtual world and let the live action drive what was ultimately going to be the shot. We actually created the shot and then made the live action work within it.”
Here’s that promised plot synopsis:
Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) in command of his last flight before retiring. But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone–tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth…and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left. But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space.