The Making Of: Gravity

We named Gravity (opens in new tab) as our favourite film of 2013, and so it's come as no surprise to see it winning massively at the 2014 Oscars (opens in new tab) .

Of course, a major part of its success has been down to its frankly incredible special effects, and the post-production work that turned the movie from 'Sandra Bullock floating/flying around a warehouse/green screen' into an astonishing visual thrillride that drew you into space and trapped you there with the characters.

We sat down with the team behind the movie, Charless Howell (Producer), Max Solomon (Animation Supervisor) and Alexis Wajsbrot (CG Supervisor) to chat about the challenges in making such a groundbreaking movie, as well as getting specific insight on the infamous 'foetal' or 'rebirth' scene.

Watch our exclusive clip below, and then scroll down for the interview and special images from the pre and post-production process beneath.

Framestore: "Every movie we do when we’re doing a big visual effects movie pushes the boundaries a bit. The difference about Gravity is that it wasn’t just a step forward - it was massive leaps forward and every aspect of the film was different. We had to work very collaboratively with all the different departments, because you couldn’t just fall back on the ways you’re used to communicating with departments, you had to work together to find ways to develop the movie. It was a huge leap into darkness."

Framestore: "Essentially none of Sandra’s surroundings are real. For this scene she was sitting on a bicycle seat with one leg strapped in, in what we called a washing machine. This was just a way of lighting her, nothing else around her existed. In fact because of her sitting in the bicycle strap and being strapped in, we had to create some of her as well."

Framestore: "For this scene, we didn't use any specific movie as a direct reference. [Although] I suppose, looking back on it, 2001 was probably way, way at the back of our minds - but I think we were all intent not to use that in any way as a direct reference as it’s a bit too challenging to work in that way."

Framestore: "The lighting was incredibly hard. I won’t say the hardest as there were many tricky scenes but it was certainly one of the hardest because it’s a very slow peaceful movement - there’s not much happening so you have to get everything perfect because there’s no 'crash bang wallop' or quick cuts to distract you. It’s got to look perfect.

The lighting is a very big part of the feel of the scene - it was very hard to design, very hard to just implement and render. It was hard to design because it’s all bounce-like, it’s all very, very little direct light. So the sun is coming through the porthole and it bounces off Sandra and the surroundings and that then gives you this soft glow. It’s very hard to directly control because it’s bouncing off Sandra who’s moving, who wasn’t there in the scenes as all these things were separate as well, so you have to find a way to make it feel like its bouncing between Sandra and the environment and they’re both interacting with each other when they’re not both there.

It’s a very complicated scene in terms of what’s in it and the lighting and the bounce light was particularly hard to render in CG. So that made it a very technical complicated challenge."

For more incredible insights into the making of the most innovative film of 2013, Gravity will be available to take home on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD from March 3rd.

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The Total Film team are made up of the finest minds in all of film journalism. They are: Editor Jane Crowther, Deputy Editor Matt Maytum, Reviews Ed Matthew Leyland, New Editor Jordan Farley, and Online Editor Jack Shepherd. Expect exclusive news, reviews, features, and more from the team behind the smarter movie magazine.