Veratech Presents The Vemmys: Tech’s top performers in 2013

Gravity: 2013′s Quiet Masterpiece

graveImage Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures 2013

There are so many movies that claim to be “groundbreaking”, and in a sense the term can be obtuse and somewhat overused when associated with big budget cinema. This is not the case with Alfonso Cuarón’s Sci Fi masterpiece “Gravity”.

Here is a quick fire list on why 2013′s Gravity is so unique:

1. Planned digital precision

During the spacewalk scenes the actors faces were filmed. Everything else on screen was digitally created. This required a unique lighting scheme that mimicked the effect of the sun and it’s reflection off Earth into space.

“The requirement of realism, paradoxically, compelled Cuarón and his team to pre-visualize the entire film, shot for shot, long in advance of bringing Sandra Bullock and co-star George Clooney onset.”

Image Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures 2013

2. Animation was literally turned upside down. Cuaron elaborates:

“It took a lot of education for the animators to fully grasp that the usual laws of cause and effect don’t apply,” Cuarón said in a press statement. “In outer space, there is no up; there is no down.”

gravcImage Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures 2013

3. Out of the box:

A Light Box was created. Made of 196 panels which each contained 4096 LED’s. Actors and props were placed inside and imagery could be instantaneously created to stimulate the actor’s performance and simulate the environment.


Image Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures 2013

“Imagine yourself as Sandra Bullock or George Clooney, hanging on an intricate 12-wire rig, inside a small house made of flat-screen TV’s. Not only can the Light Box make instant and interactive changes of light falling your face, your costume, your props; it also can show you the scene to which you are supposed to be reacting.”

4. Cuarón’s signature tracking shots were used to “full” effect:

“Getting these shots required precise choreography, over several years, between pre-vis, live action and laborious tasks of final animation.”

Image Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures 2013

5. 3D modelling was heavily used to make things look……….used.

“Much of this work was done with computer modelling of surfaces, including spacesuits” – “The film’s art director painstakingly recreated the look of spacecraft and tools, which many of us have seen and could quickly judge as phony if not near perfect. Then they added a layer of distress, wear and tear to reference the continuous occupation of the International Space Station and other craft.”

gravhImage Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures 2013

6. Warner Brothers took one giant leap of financial faith:

Gravity’ was written by the father and son team of Alfonso and Jonás Cuarón, who had to invent new technology for filming zero-gravity. Because of this, Warner Bros. allowed the film’s budget to soar to $100 million without seeing a single frame until six months after filming was complete.

7. Ode to the Apes. Coincidence or hat tipping?:

The landing scene was filmed at Lake Powell, Arizona (incidentally where the astronauts’ landing scene was filmed in Planet of the Apes).
gravmImage Courtesy of 20th Century Fox 1968

8. Sandra toughed it out:

“Most of Bullock’s shots were done with her inside of a giant mechanical rig. Getting into the rig took a significant amount of time, so Bullock opted to stay in it for up to 10 hours a day, communicating with others only through a headset.”
Image Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures 2013

9. Methodical and metaphorical:

The director wanted the film to be a metaphoric examination of re-bitrh. The opening shots include Bullock in a fetal like position. ****Spoiler alert*** The films ending reinforces this underlying theme.
Image Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures 2013

10. A tough environment for thespian creativity:

“The timing was written in stone. The positions were written in stone. It was like, At that exact moment, [Sandra], you reach out with your hand like that. Everything was so millimetric. It was a testament to Sandra and George how they went through with all these technical, psychological limitations around them, how they make it seem effortless”
Director Alfonso Cuarón

11. If at first you fail, try try again:

“Months and months and months of developing technology. Then you realize it’s not working. Then always, in the last minute, you make it work.”
Director Alfonso Cuarón
gravdImage Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures 2013

12. The secret Kubriconian title that didn’t make the final cut:

The original screenplay title was “Gravity: A Space Adventure in 3-D”.
Image Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures 2013


Gravity showed movie goers a new standard in CGI and 3D emersion. A definitive example of tech excellence.

Join us next week as we wrap our final Vemmy awards for 2013.
Coming Up: The free app that took the stigma out of online dating.


Jared Neems is a Web Developer and Digital Marketer for Veratech.


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