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‘Children of Men,’ ‘Hot Fuzz,’ and ‘500 Days of Summer’ directors say special effects can’t match real stunts

by Adi Robertson.

The top-tier panels at Comic-Con are usually dedicated to upcoming blockbusters or fan favorites — yesterday, thousands of people packed into the giant Hall H to see Harrison Ford or the cast of Dexter. Between these panels, though, we also got a chance to see three slightly more low-profile directors talk about their craft: Hot Fuzz and The World’s End’s Edgar Wright, Children of Men director Alfonso Cuarón, and Marc Webb, responsible for both the latest Spider-Man reboot and 500 Days of Summer. In some ways, Webb, Wright, and Cuarón couldn’t be more different. But their current projects all have the basic elements of a Comic-Con movie — alien invasions, astronauts stranded in space, superheroes. They also share a common fear: that as editing techniques get more sophisticated, filmmakers are missing a chance to provoke real, visceral awe.

Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man and Cuarón’s upcoming film Gravity both rely heavily on cinematic sleight of hand. Gravity sat unproduced for years, partly because the technology to shoot long scenes set in zero gravity simply didn’t exist. The “Vomit Comet” plane used for films like Apollo 13 was too small for the sets, and shots couldn’t be longer than 20 seconds. Finally, Cuarón hit on the idea of a set that would rotate around a stationary actor, making it look like Sandra Bullock or George Clooney was floating. Webb, meanwhile, had to balance the anything-goes world of CG animation with the realities of physics. “A human body can only take so much,” he said. “Flying through the air at the speeds that Spider-Man would fly through the air is kind of mind-boggling and impossible.”

Read the rest of this article from The Verge.

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