Sound Masters: Gravity

Alfonso Cuarón’s most acclaimed film to date, Gravity was met with immediate critical praise upon its release in 2013 and would go on to win seven Academy Awards. A technical feat, the film uses special effects for more than 80 minutes of its 91-minute runtime. These effects took over three years to create.

It goes without saying that a film with this much visual detail requires extraordinary attention to audio detail to sell those spectacular shots—and the sound team certainly delivered. They were challenged with blending expected sounds with realistic (or scientifically accurate) ones in an outer space setting. Gravity includes multiple shots of destruction, and it took a creative new spin to rethink how destruction could sound in space… because in reality, it wouldn’t sound like anything at all. Ultimately, the sound team chose to adopt the perspective of Sandra Bullock’s character (medical engineer and astronaut Ryan Stone) so audiences only hear what she would be hearing, from inside her helmet.

The clip we present today shows how minimal sound design can sometimes be the most intense route for a scene. Using a couple steady drones, some high and some low, an occasional riser, and sub bass hits where there are significant impacts to the shuttle, the team was able to tell a story without getting in their own way.

And now’s your turn to think outside of the box. See what you can come up with in Audio Design Desk, free to download.