‘Gravity’ director says no to ‘Vomit Comet’

September 26, 2013 by Tom Ferda · Leave a Comment 

Published in Film Trailers Magazine SEPT 26, 2013

Sci-fi thriller Gravity will be floating into theaters in early October and the more we learn about this film, the more intriguing it becomes. The film stars Academy Award® winners Sandra Bullock and George Clooney and promises to pull audiences into the infinite realm of deep space.

Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) in command. But on a routine mission, disaster strikes and the only way for the pair to make it home may be to dive further into the terrifying abyss of space.

Gravity was directed by Oscar® nominee Alfonso Cuaron who was behind the lens for the futuristic sci-fi thriller Children of Men.

Photo: Courtesty Of Warner Brothers

Photo: Courtesy Of Warner Brothers

“I have always had a fascination with space and space exploration,” said Cuarón. “On the one hand, there is something mythical and romantic about the idea of separating yourself from Mother Earth but in many ways, it doesn’t make sense to be out there when life is down here.”

The most crucial element in making “Gravity” was conveying the sensation of being in space and replicating zero gravity. Given Cuarón’s preference for long, fluid shots, using traditional wires was not viable, nor was the use of gravity-defying stunts like the “vomit comet” — when a plane climbs then plummets, causing momentary weightlessness.

“With wires, you can see the strain on the actor; gravity is still pulling everything down,” said Cuarón.  “And the vomit comet only works for takes that are a few seconds long, and not everyone copes very well with it.”

That said, the filmmakers employed a combination of groundbreaking techniques to bring the characters and audience into the deep realm of space.   Wires were used, but SFX supervisor Neil Corbould and his team devised a unique 12-wire rig operated by puppeteers to “float” Bullock for specific shots. For other scenes, the actors were secured onto specialized rigs that could rotate or tilt them at different angles to allow extreme angles with cameras mounted on computer-controlled robot arms, the type used in automobile manufacturing.

Photo: Courtesy Of Warner Brothers

Photo: Courtesy Of Warner Brothers

The specially-designed lights, robot-mounted cameras and tilt rigs were all synched with the aid of computers, allowing Cuarón to move the universe around the actors, giving the impression the characters are moving through space.

When asked what attracted him to the script, Clooney said the fact he grew up during the “space race” made the opportunity intriguing. “I am a child of that era. I have always loved the idea of space exploration and am in awe of the people who do it.  They really are the last of the great pioneers.”

“Sandy and I have been good friends for very long time, but we never found the right vehicle for us to do something together,” he added. “I have always had tremendous respect for her and I couldn’t ask for a better partner to act with.   And I think Alfonso Cuarón is one of the most interesting and talented directors.”

“I used to think that astronauts wanted to go into space for the thrill and adventure,” added Bullock. “But when I spoke to them, I was so moved by their deep, deep love of that world and the beauty of Earth from their perspective, seeing the oceans and mountain ranges and the lights of the cities.  It’s amazing to realize how small we are in this massive universe.”

“Gravity” will be released by Warner Brothers in U.S. theaters in the beginning of October and may be one to go the 3-D route with. With an estimated $80 million budget with much of that jack going toward SFX, may be a while before we get a chance to feel like we’re really floating in space.