How They Made Gravity

Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 3 2014 3:29 PM

How They Made Gravity

Gravity's "Light Box"
Filmmaking in space is impossible.

Photo still of the Light Box in "From Script to Screen" featurette.

I’d read about the technology that Alfonso Cuarón and his crew created to make Gravity possible, but it’s a different thing to see it. In this video released over the holidays, you can. It really gets going around 1:35—and the amazing “Light Box” technology shows up around 2:30:

(Note: The last 10 seconds of this video contain a major spoiler.) 

Advertisement

That “Light Box” is the really ingenious thing: Rather than trying to figure out how to move Sandra Bullock through space, they realized they could move space around her. Not that it was simple from there. To make the technique work, they built the Light Box, or “Sandy’s Box,” out of “1.8 million individually controllable LED bulbs”—essentially it’s 360 degrees of Jumbotron screens—and then piloted the camera through it using a robot.

It’ll be a sham if any other movie wins the best visual effects Oscar. And I can’t wait to see what other movies do with this technology from here.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 8:15 AM Ted Cruz Will Not Join a Protest of "The Death of Klinghoffer" After All
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 9:03 AM My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. And Then I Found Myself With Someone Like Dad.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 8:27 AM Only Science Fiction Can Save Us! What sci-fi gets wrong about income inequality.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 7:30 AM Ring Around the Rainbow
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.