Tim Webber, who is Oscar-nominated for Best Achievement in Visual Effects on the Alfonso Cuaron-directed space epic Gravity, received his education in math, physics and art – and all were all put to good use on film. “I got to use my physics education. It helped me understand the way things move in zero gravity. It gave me a good, theoretical understanding,” said Webber, who added that from his art education, he learned how to look at things differently. “Physics taught me how the way things work, how energy doesn’t dissipate but changes, and that was useful in getting it real and have a feeling of reality.” And looking at things differently was a necessity for Gravity’s success.
This was a movie, he said, where the normal filmmaking process had to be put aside. Gravity, which required a significant amount of planning and preproduction, was a project like no other. “Everything about this film was a different filmmaking process. The way people had to work together was different,” said Webber. “We actually lit the film before we went to shoot it. The set dresser, when she did it, she was doing it next to a visual effects artist who was moving props around with a mouse on a computer screen. The language was different.” The reasons behind the differences was that Gravity was made almost entirely in CG and, of course, there were those notable long shots. For instance, the opening scene was 12-minute single-take. “You couldn’t talk about continuity in the normal way,” he said. “If you were talking about a moment in the film, we had to divide the film up in completely different ways to a normal film. We had to find new ways of working together because each department couldn’t work on its own.