For me the best movie so far this year has to be Christopher Nolan's Inception. it will be interesting come Oscar time to see if the Academy and the world at large agree. It is a fantastic combination of amazing direction and cinematography, a gripping script and amazing VFX. The best VFX are the ones you don't see and only afterwards do you think "How did they do that?".
For me the bit of the movie that hits this mark is the zero gravity sequence in the hotel, and particularly when the sleeping bodies of the lead characters are stacked up and wheeled into an elevator. I could not fathom how it was done and what was real and what was CG. So when I had lunch recently with Paul Franklin, the leading light on the movie for Dneg and a recent addition to our Advisory board, I had to ask.
The answer I got was somewhat surprising and much simpler than I expected - as all the best things in life are. Instead of creating fully CG backgrounds and characters, they relied on expert wire work and a moving set that consisted of a corridor and hotel room that they were able to turn to mimic the effect of zero gravity. When it came to the sequence I mentioned with the lift, they simply hung everyone in parallel and rotated the room and camera to mimic the effect of stacking the bodies. Because the actors were not expected to lie in such awkward positions for hours and stand ins were used, it was necessary to replace some of the heads for shots close to camera.
It just goes to show that even now with all of the technology at hand, sometimes you get a better result from doing things the old fashioned way and then using CG as a way of making things believable. I'd like to congratulate Chris Nolan and Dneg for their outstanding work and for creating a movie that had me and thousands of others sitting on the edge of our seats.