×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Blade Runner 2049’: How Cutting-Edge Techniques Re-Created Character From Original

When the Academy Award nominations came out, it was a tech and craft sweep for helmer Denis Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049.”

The sequel to the sci-fi classic took five noms: cinematography, production design, sound editing, sound mixing and visual effects. With such a high mark set by the first film, these crews sought out cutting-edge techniques for everything from layering sound to reviving the character Rachel.

Sound mixing nominees Ron Bartlett and Doug Hemphill worked together to create a mix that utilized new tools while holding on to essential, organic noises.

“We’re very protective of the actor’s intentions in their dialogue, and we make sure it’s not covered up with loud sounds or a music cue or anything else so that the director’s vision is told through that story and through the actors in that story,” says Bartlett. “You have tough situations where you have something like the sea wall, but we really kept in mind being able to hear the voices clearly. In Dolby Atmos you can put stuff in the ceiling, so we put the interrogator’s voice on top of Agent K, so that it’s very oppressive and claustrophobic. We use it as an emotional tool, and that’s the key.”

The VFX crew leaned into emotion, too, and made a point of keeping things gritty and minimal when they could so the film wouldn’t look just like one continuous CG shot.

“I think our restraint really helped us with the realism of the film,” says John Nelson, VFX nominee (“Gladiator”). “We decided to build as much of the set as we could around the actors. We shot Mexico City for Los Angeles because Roger [Deakins, DP] and Denis [Villeneuve] liked the stacked look of the buildings.”

Overall, there are 1,190 vfx shots in the movie and the film contains 1:48 of visual effects in its entire run time. Special moments made the task even weightier: A small crew at MPC in Montreal also spent about a year working on bringing Rachel back exactly as she appeared in 1982. It was an iconic moment with no room for error.

“We used footage from the original ‘Blade Runner,’ a body double for Sean Young, Sean Young herself and really used everything we could to take what we needed to make you believe she was there, just as she used to be,” says Nelson. “It was also complicated merging Joi [Agent K’s companion] with Mariette. In the end we also decided that it looked better not to have them completely synch up every time because those little moments where they separate give it a more real feeling. You think of this movie and the first one and you think technology, but in the end we tried to make the film feel analogue.”

More Film

  • Alamode Acquires Lone Scherfig’s ‘The Kindness

    Alamode Acquires Lone Scherfig’s Berlin Opener ‘The Kindness of Strangers’

    Munich-based Alamode has taken German and Austrian rights to Lone Scherfig’s “The Kindness of Strangers,” ahead of the picture’s opening-night gala screening at the Berlin Film Festival next month. Alamode acquired the rights from London-based HanWay Films, which is handling worldwide sales. Entertainment One is distributing the film in Canada and SF Studios in Scandinavia. [...]

  • Voltage Pictures to Produce Airborne Thriller

    Voltage Pictures to Produce Airborne Thriller 'Blackwing' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Voltage Pictures will produce and fully finance screenwriter David Loughery’s latest thriller “Blackwing,” Variety has learned exclusively. The company will introduce “Blackwing” to buyers at the upcoming European Film Market at the Berlin Film Festival, which opens Feb. 7. Nicolas Chartier and Dominic Rustam are producing, and Jonathan Deckter is executive producing for Voltage Pictures. [...]

  • ‘Metro Exodus’ Opens Up Post-Apocalyptic Russia

    ‘Metro Exodus’ Author On Film, Possible TV Series, Expansive New Game

    Since the launch of the post-apocalyptic survival first-person shooter “Metro 2033” in 2010, the series has kept its action confined to the tunnels running underneath Russia. “Metro Exodus,” due out next month, takes the gameplay to the surface for the first time, going above ground with sprawling levels against a changing backdrop of weather conditions [...]

  • Berlin Film 'The Ground Beneath My

    Berlin Competition Film 'The Ground Beneath My Feet' Sold to Germany's Salzgeber (EXCLUSIVE)

    Salzgeber has acquired the German rights for Berlin Film Festival competition title “The Ground Beneath My Feet” from sales agent Picture Tree International. Variety has been given exclusive access to the film’s trailer. Salzgeber will release the film, directed by Marie Kreutzer, mid-May. Picture Tree describes the movie as a “contemporary female-led drama touching on [...]

  • Donald Glover'Atlanta' TV show premiere, Arrivals,

    Childish Gambino Surprises Beverly Hills Crowd With Reimagined 'Redbone'

    Donald Glover made an unexpected appearance at Film Independent’s “An Evening With…” series on Tuesday, held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts in Beverly Hills and presented by the HFPA. Joining “Black Panther” composer and Childish Gambino collaborator Ludwig Göransson, who was the subject of a Q&A conducted by “The Treatment” host Elvis Mitchell, [...]

  • 76th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS --

    Film News Roundup: Glenn Close Selected for Oscar Wilde Award

    In today’s film news roundup, Glenn Close gets an honor, AFI names its Directing Workshop for Women participants and Teri Polo gets cast in a Christmas drama. CLOSE HONOR Glenn Close will be honored on Feb. 21 by the US-Ireland Alliance at the 14th Annual Oscar Wilde Awards, held at J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot in [...]

  • Jason Reitman Ghostbusters

    Jason Reitman to Direct Secret 'Ghostbusters' Movie

    Sony Pictures is getting the wheels in motion for the next installment in the “Ghostbusters” franchise, and it knows who it’s going to call to direct: Jason Reitman. Sources tell Variety that Reitman, whose father, Ivan, directed the first two “Ghostbusters” movies, will direct the latest pic in the famous franchise. Reitman has also co-written a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content