New York, November 7, 2011 — International visual effects and design company Gravity today announced that it produced more than 200 visual effects shots for Universal Pictures’ new action-comedy “Tower Heist” currently in theaters. The announcement was made by Zviah Eldar, Gravity’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Creative Officer.
Gravity’s visual-effects accomplishments on “Tower Heist” included digital set extensions, photorealistic CG buildings, a CG car, CG stunts, CG face replacements, digital matte paintings, and simulations. Under the direction of Yuval Levy, Gravity’s Digital Effects Supervisor, and Karin Levinson, Vice President of Features & Television, the team provided Director Brett Ratner and Visual Effects Supervisor Mark Russell with a series of pre-visualized sequences and style frames that illustrated the most climactic scenes of the film. These previs scenes became the blueprint for the shooting of the heist sequences.
“Working with Gravity from the beginning on the previs gave us a head start in making these sequences work down the road,” Russell said. “They had a very early understanding of what Brett and I were after, and they were able to build on that even before the shooting began.”
The majority of Gravity’s visual-effects work focused on the sequences involving the heist in which characters played by Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy and Matthew Broderick steal a classic Ferrari from a corrupt billionaire’s penthouse apartment through an exterior window on the 65th floor. Prior to the actual heist sequence, Gravity created a complex series of green-screen window comps, so that views of Manhattan as seen from inside the penthouse and another of The Tower’s most opulent apartments would be completely authentic.
The visual-effects team digitally re-created a section of Manhattan at Columbus Circle to provide the sweeping 220-degree backdrops that may be seen from two apartments. Additionally, Gravity created a photorealistic CG Tower, matching the Trump International Hotel & Tower, to supplement the partially constructed façade that was built on a NY soundstage. Employing a combination of live- action plates, digital imagery and CG elements, Gravity placed the action of the film at the top of New York’s most expensive real estate all during the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Gravity also created a number of helicopter POV shots entirely in CG to tie the scenes together.
Gravity’s Digital Effects Supervisor Yuval Levy said, “Some of our most complex work on the film was creating a photoreal CG Ferrari and CG doubles for Stiller and Murphy, which were seen during a CG ‘stunt’ as the car is being lowered down the side of The Tower. Our visual-effects team also created an overhead point of view of the heist as though observed from a helicopter during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We blended scenes from the actual parade along with both CG and stunt elements, which were shot on the stage. This allowed us to create a view of the heist and the parade as they would appear if actually witnessed from above.”
Russell added, “It was a pleasure working with Yuval and the entire team from Gravity on ‘Tower Heist’. They have proven, yet again, that New York can deliver top-notch visual-effects.” In addition to “The Adjustment Bureau,” this is Mark Russell’s second collaboration with Gravity.
Gravity is an international visual effects, design and brand communications company with proven expertise in three integrated divisions: Features & Television, Commercials, and Digital. With 250 talented professionals across offices in New York, Los Angeles, Connecticut and Tel Aviv, the company is a widely renowned generator of high-end visual effects, creative content, motion graphics design, animation, branding, and digital strategy.
The company’s clients include Universal Pictures, Warner Bros., DreamWorks, Sony Pictures Entertainment, HBO, Paramount Pictures, The Weinstein Company, Dimension Films, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Mercedes Benz, Verizon, Pantene, MGA Entertainment, Carlsberg, Kmart, and Braun. In addition to “Tower Heist”, Gravity’s other recent feature film credits include “Crazy, Stupid, Love”, “The Adjustment Bureau”, “Arthur”, “The Other Guys”, “Salt”, “The Reader”, and “Ghost Town.” The company’s television credits include HBO’s “Bored to Death”, “The Sopranos”, and “Sex and The City.”
Gravity’s New York office is located at 315 Madison Avenue, 3rd Floor, New York, NY, 10017. The phone is 212/986-1584. The company’s West Coast office is located in the Lantana Building, 3000 West Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, CA, 90404. The phone is 310/264-3909. For more information, please visit
ABOUT “TOWER HEIST”:
Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy lead an all-star cast in “Tower Heist,” an action-comedy about working stiffs who seek revenge on the Wall Street swindler who stiffed them. After the workers at a luxury Central Park condominium discover the penthouse billionaire has stolen their retirement, they plot the unique revenge: a heist to reclaim what he took from them.