Computer Graphics World

November/December 2013

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ANIMATION .com VIDEO: Go to "Extras" in the November/December 2013 issue box IN TWO FILMS THIS YEAR, WE SAW ACTORS PERFORMING IN ZERO GRAVITY, WHICH IS, OF COURSE, SOMETHING IMPOSSIBLE TO FILM. Director Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity sends two astronauts (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) orbiting in outer space without a vehicle. Their space suits are low on oxygen, and debris from an explosion flies toward them. We watch Clooney drift away, and then for the rest of the 90-minute film, the camera follows Bullock as she tries to find a way home. There are only a few scenes in which Bullock is not in zero gravity. In a second zero-gravity film, Writer/Director Gavin Hood's Ender's Game, a brilliant young teenager spends time weightless in a "battle room" learning how to lead a team that will fight a forthcoming alien invasion. Artists at Framestore handled 95 percent of the visual effects in Gravity. Similarly, Digital Domain artists provided the visual effects for Ender's Game. To sell the illusion of weightlessness in the actors' performances, the two studios used two very different approaches. 16 ■ CGW Novem ber / Dec em ber 2013 Tim Webber was visual effects supervisor for the film; Max Solomon was animation supervisor and previs'd the opening sequence. We caught up with Solomon at the VIEW Conference. " Alfonso [Cuarón] conceived the film as traditionally filmed, with actors on sets and on wires, he says. "But, he " has a very particular style: His films are immersive, with long takes, and early tests showed that a traditional shoot with post wouldn't work. Tim [Webber] suggested using CG. Alfonso was skeptical, but there was no alternative. " Thus, the team developed a plan in which they would move the actors only moderately and have a camera and lights orbit around them. " Alfonso wanted total freedom of motion, Solomon says. " "There would be no sense of horizon. The characters would be free to move and shift in any direction, and the camera needed to move all around them. " But, while it was possible to imagine moving a camera around the actors, moving lights large enough to represent

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