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Average Shot Length In Alfonso Cuaron’s 2-Hour ‘Gravity’ Revealed; 17-Minute Opening Take Confirmed

Posted by , on April 11, 2012 at 10:47 am 

With it being our #1 most-anticipated film of the year, get ready for just about every single update there is when it comes to Alfonso Cuaron‘s space epic Gravity. Although we were supposed to get a teaser in early 2012, it is looking more and more likely one won’t roll out until summer for the film starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. But today we finally got new tidbits, our first in quite some time, which talk about the pre-production process and the extended takes.

It was nearly two years ago that we got word that the film would have a long, extended opening shot and possibly be all in one take. This has all been cleared up recently by Chris DeFaria, executive producer and VFX lead on many Warner Bros. films. He spoke at the 5D | FLUX conference at USC for the film that follows “a lone survivor of a space mission who is sent to repair the Hubble telescope and desperately tries to return to Earth to reunite with her daughter.” [Immersed in Movies]

He confirmed that the opening shot will be a single 17-minute take and went on to say the runtime of the entire film will be around two hours. The catch is that the film will only contain 156 shots, which if you do some simple math puts every take around 45 seconds, a rarity in today’s blockbuster world. He want on to say many shots will last 6, 8 and 10 minutes long. It looks like for Children of Men fans, myself included, this will be an entirely new level, especially for cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who is coming off The Tree of Life.

DeFaria also spoke about the pre-production process, which got a bit technical. One can check out his full quote below, which reveals that Gravity began strictly as an animated film, with every single shot pre-planned and already committed to. This meant most of the actor’s performances will be contained with their faces inside of their space helmet. He said they not only had to commit to “just shot design but lighting, direction, every prop, every single doorway, every single distance so that when we shot somebody’s eyes, they were converging at the right distance point.” See his quote below.

“Instead of trying to create real people and what they’re doing, let’s turn it around and create almost an entirely animated film and then backwards engineer the people into that film,. As a matter of fact, let’s not even engineer the people into the film, let’s engineer their faces. So you’ve got these little faces inside these little helmets. But there was a big hiccup that we came to I didn’t realize until later, which was that we began building it as an animated film and Alfonso had an idea that he wanted the shots to be incredibly long.”

With this format giving the filmmakers complete control over what they want to see and the level CGI is nowadays, I can’t wait to see what Cuaron comes up with. No wonder comparisons to 2001: A Space Odyssey are being thrown around, as this looks to take elements Kubrick explored into the digital space. DeFaris closes with the following: “we didn’t create the virtual world and let the live action drive what was ultimately going to be the shot. We actually created the shot and then made the live action work within it.”

Gravity arrives in IMAX 3D on November 21st, 2012.

What do you think about this new information? Will Gravity be another massive breakthough in technology?


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