Oscar Hopeful Tim Webber on 'Gravity' Possibly Sweeping Technical Categories
VANCOUVER - For a visual effects supervisor who worked for five years to make Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity utterly believable for global audiences, Tim Webber hasn't yet grasped that the epic space thriller could sweep the technical categories at the Academy Awards next month.
"I really do try and not think about it too much," Webber of London-based Framestore told the Hollywood Reporter Friday about being nominated in the Oscar's visual effects category for his work on the digitally ambitious movie.
The sci-fi flick, most of which is computer-generated, is a box office success and, along with American Hustle, leads the field for the 86th Academy Awards with ten nominations each.
And that's after Webber and his FX troops took a huge leap into the unknown as Cuarón spearheaded a space movie that is set in zero gravity, and one that required unprecedented realism and detail to make Cuarón's signature long, lingering shots ceaselessly authentic for audiences.
"When it (Gravity) came out and it got a really positive reception, the feeling I had honestly was relief. We worked so long on the movie, which was very challenging, so your biggest fear is it's going to fall flat and no one's going to go see it," Webber recalled.
Appearing this week at the Spark FW 2014 conference in Vancouver, Webber and fellow Gravity visual effects artists have been treated like rock stars after succeeding in pushing out the boundaries of 3D filmmaking alongside earlier titles like Avatar, Hugo and Life of Pi.
"It's nice to be up here talking about a 3D film that is designed for 3D from the start, and recognized for that," Angus Cameron, stereographer and stereo supervisor at Vision 3, said of his work on Gravity.
That meant the only real elements in a CG environment where astronauts tumble into an Earth and star-lit darkness are the faces of lead actors Sandra Bullock and George Clooney behind their helmet visors.
Virtually all else is computer generated, and calculated with groundbreaking precision to depict simulated weightlessness for astronauts lost in space.
That accomplishment is sweet for FX artists who too often see 3D considered an add-on by studios to boost box office, and not as an available technology to make Hollywood movie magic.
"The industry needed Gravity. We were getting to the point where the way 3D was used was raising the question of why go out and see a film in 3D," Cameron argued.
Webber said studios should be selective in which movies are made in 3D or converted from 2D to 3D.
"Because it's particularly good for this one (Gravity), that doesn't mean 3D can be rejuvenated and used everywhere. It just shows it works for some movies and doesn't for others," he insisted.
The Spark FW 2014 conference continues through Saturday in Vancouver.