Blade Runner 2049 visual effects company Rodeo FX has released a new VFX reel showcasing their achievements on Denis Villeneuve’s acclaimed film. The long-awaited Blade Runner sequel was certainly a commercial disappointment – but it was a big success with critics, it could be a major awards contender, and there’s no doubt that the effects are stunning. Much of the film’s vibrant visuals came from Roger Deakins’ award-worthy cinematography, while many of the VFX that ended up on screen were practical with minimal use of CGI or green screen.
Villeneuve worked with frequent collaborator Rodeo FX, which also worked with the director on 2016’s Oscar-winning Arrival, to bring Blade Runner 2049’s visuals to life. Rodeo provides a wide range of services, which includes CGI, compositing, and matte paintings. Their work shines through in the Blade Runner sequel, and it becomes more impressive when you see the steps they took behind the scenes.
You can check out the new VFX reel above, via the Rodeo FX YouTube channel. The video runs through several examples of the techniques they used to create composite images in many of the film’s most visually striking scenes. In many cases, the team used matte paintings and compositing to make the already-large practical sets look even larger, such as the cavernous halls of an abandoned Las Vegas casino or a sprawling dystopian junkyard. There’s also the massive warehouse where Officer K (Ryan Gosling) learns more about the memories implanted in his mind.
The VFX reel spotlights the fact that Villeneuve opted to minimize use of green screens on set. One of the most extraordinary examples is the shot of Officer K making his first approach into a desolate Las Vegas, replacing an empty background and a small strip of green screen with a gorgeously panoramic matte painting. The clip also shows off some equally spectacular full-CGI shots of a neon-lit downtown Los Angeles.
Just one run-through of this VFX reel shows why Blade Runner 2049 made the shortlist for the Best Visual Effects Oscar. Perhaps the Academy will be even more impressed with the film when they realize just how little CGI was actually used to breathe life into it. Rodeo’s use of classic techniques like matte paintings helped give Villeneuve’s film a more artful, naturalistic feel and resulted in arguably the best-looking film of 2017.
There’s no denying Blade Runner 2049’s visual excellence, but it serves as another reminder of the most disappointing thing about the sequel: not a whole lot of people went to see it compared to other sci-fi offerings. Villeneuve may not get the kind of budgetary freedom he got for the movie (estimates range from $150-180 million) on future projects as a result of its losses at the box office. But the hope now for Blade Runner 2049 fans is that it gets the recognition it deserves come awards season.
Source: Rodeo FX
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