Project: Gravity (2013)
My Role: Stereo Setup Supervisor, Plate Dimensionalisation Lead
Gravity, the sci-fi thriller that won the 2014 Oscar and BAFTA for visual effects, was the longest project I have ever worked on. Framestore was the main VFX house leading the groundbreaking work on the film. Having worked with Tim Webber, the visual effects supervisor, before on Children of Men and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the director Alfonso Cuarón had full trust in Framestore in brining his vision to life.
Although Gravity was designed for stereo 3D ,the complexities and the very unique way of filming on the set, made it very difficult to shoot it in native stereo and it was decided that the movie needs to be post converted from very early stages of production. Framestore took on the majority of the work and all of the exterior shots along with a few interiors were converted in house.
Finding a solution
Having been through a similar process in Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows Part 2 I was asked to come up with a workflow. I had to come up with a solution that could be easily adopted by a large number of artists and shots to provide consistent result. So I decided to design a few tools for creating and reviewing depth maps (depth map is the representation of the distance of an object in 3d space from the camera and what is essentially the foundation of post conversion process). I presented my initial workflow to compositing supervisors of the project, Mark Bakowski and Anthony Smith, and after getting their approval, I was put in charge of the task and leading the process.
Since Stereo Conversion is not what Framestore usually does, there was no official artist position for such task, so a new position was created for me as “Stereo Setup Supervisor” which I took on as a huge responsibility on this very challenging yet exciting project.
After an R&D period and completing the tools, with help from Daniele Federico (Framestore Pipeline) and Kyle Mcculloch (Compositing Supervisor) , I trained the artists both in London and Framestore Bournemouth outpost to use them.The first stage of the process was generating depth maps that was done by our very talented Paint and Roto team.
As well as leading the Paint and Roto team I also led a team of compositors for the final stage of the process where everything was placed in the right 3D position and fine tuned.
An Incredible Experience
During the project I had the opportunity to work closely with Tim Webber, Gravity VFX Supervisor and Chris Parks, Stereo Supervisor as well as many other talented artists which made this such an invaluable experience. Gravity was a very different project as while working on it we all felt that we’re working on something very special, yet no one really anticipated the phenomenon it became. Winning the Oscar in a year when they were so many great visual effects movies, meant a lot and was the best possible ending for the fantastic run that Gravity had winning both the audiences and critics.