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‘Gravity’ production designer Andy Nicholson on taking audiences to space

Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in
Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in "Gravity."
Warner Bros. Pictures

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Alfonso Cuarón’s stunning sci-fi drama ‘Gravity’ earned 10 Oscar nominations this year. Among them, a nod for the film’s production design—which includes a meticulously-crafted Space Shuttle and striking simulation of the zero-gravity environment beyond earth’s atmosphere. Transporting audiences so convincingly to a far-off place they’ve never been was the job of production designer Andy Nicholson.

Nicholson has spent the last two decades working in the art departments of Hollywood films—including Tony Scott’s ‘Spy Game,’ Paul Greengrass’ ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ and Tim Burton’s ‘Frankenweenie.’ ‘Gravity’ is just Nicholson’s second time in the production designer role—and this space suspense drama was no ordinary job. So much of the interstellar scenes were digitally created.

In addition to real sets, Nicholson built proxy ones—and worked with computer animators upfront to meticulously design the materials and sets that were added in post-production.

How much research did designing ‘Gravity’ require? What went into the creation of scenes like the one below?


Andy Nicholson, Oscar-nominated production designer of director Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity;” Nicholson’s other credits include art direction on “Sleepy Hollow,” “Troy,” “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “The Golden Compass” and more.