Blade Runner 2049 and the Importance of Practical Effects

Denis Villeneuve promises that Blade Runner 2049 will be as real as he can make it.

While there are countless things to love about the original Blade Runner, but Douglas Trumbull’s incredible special effects are always a crucial piece of the puzzle. In 1982, it’s tough to imagine anyone was better at creating the most grounded, believable effects work on screen. And since Blade Runner wasn’t a space opera full of over the top visual concepts, but rather a film about a near future that needed to look and operate in a way audiences would recognize as one that might be their own, realism was all the more important.

Denis Villeneuve, director of the upcoming Blade Runner 2049, is well aware of all the expectations that surround his sequel. He’s equally aware of how important it is to make this film true to the spirit of the original in as many ways as possible. 

“If you had told me 10 years ago I would direct [a sequel to] Blade Runner I would have laughed in your face,” Villeneuve told reporters during a roundtable interview at San Diego Comic-Con. “I didn’t think it would be possible.”

“I had the time of my life making this movie, he admits. “To have the chance do so something of this scope, to have those resources, to have the chance to build the sets, I’ve seen things…” At this point, Mr. Villeneuve realized the significance of those three words and he, along with everyone else present, broke up into laughter before he could continue. “We built everything. The sets, the vehicles. There are some specific scenes where I said to myself ‘I never thought I would have the chance to see that in my life as a director’, to have those toys to recreate live things, you feel that it’s real, that there’s weight and presence.”

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Villeneuve’s excitement about the physical component of making Blade Runner 2049 was infectious, and his sense of awe regarding what has been constructed was genuine. “I’m not a big CG fan,” he confessed. “I think it’s a powerful tool, but it can’t just be that. We did the best we could to always try to be live with models and real vehicles and to shoot real landscapes and to have life in front of the camera. Roger Deakins and the production designers really put their mastery into recreating my dream, which is so that if you’re in an apartment, what you will see outside wasn’t done with green screen, they were building the other streets, lighting rigs, the rain was falling for real. It was like you were indoors in 2049.”

We’ll get to see these creations for ourselves when Blade Runner 2049 opens on October 6.

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