Tonight, director Alfonso Cuarón will receive the Visionary Award at the 12th Annual VES Awards for his breathtaking space odyssey, Gravity. But no one who has seen it, or any of the director’s previous works (Y Tu Mama Tambien, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), can doubt that it’s the narrative that drives the effects, even when the effects in question required years of pre-vis.
Director Alfonso Cuarón on the set of Warner Bros. Pictures’ dramatic thriller,
. Photo by Murdo MacLeod.
“We had to do the whole film as an animation first,” Cuarón tells Animation World Network’s Bill Desowitz in his article, “Alfonso Cuarón Talks Gravity.” “The issue was when you’re reverse engineering, it was like eating an elephant one spoonful a day. So first you do your previs, and then you break it down to decide how can I achieve this moment? Now this is connected, join it to connect all of these pieces.”
The solution was a revolutionary piece of set design dubbed “The Light Box” that Cuarón and cinematographer Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki used to simulate the flashing lights and multitude of space imagery that reflected off of star Sandra Bullock’s helmet and eyes.
Narratively, Cuarón and Lubezki decided to attack the film in sections, in order to prevent something so highly orchestrated from having a clinical feel. “This was the biggest challenge,” Cuarón says. “With Chivo, we’re used to prepping like crazy and then arriving on the set and forgetting everything and allowing accidents to happen that Chivo calls ‘the miracles.’ But in a film that you have to pre-program we turned it in pieces and said, ‘Let’s create our accidents.'”
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