When the first Blade Runner hit theaters in 1982, it was practically revolutionary in its use of effects, both practical and CGI. It inspired a number of filmmakers to do the same, which only places more pressure on the shoulders of Denis Villeneuve’s long awaited sequel, Blade Runner 2049. How would his sequel, which has far more technical wizardry at its disposal, handle the use of those effects? Villeneuve has no major taste for CGI himself, and his Blade Runner sequel went for the practical effect as much as it possibly could. In fact, Villeneuve can count on one hand how many times he used green screen while filming.
I’m very old school. I wish I had the chance to do my ‘Aliens’ [in Arrival) as animatronics. I hate green screens. It sucks out all my energy. I get depressed. [Cinematographer] Roger [Deakins] was insanely impressive in how he was able to create landscape with tricks. For me it was beautiful. I think I can count on one hand how many times I saw a green screen in all of those months of shooting. There will be CG enhancements, of course, but as much as possible it was in-camera.
Denis Villeneuve is so hot right now, with his film Arrival a major contender at this year’s Academy Awards. The director is in high demand, and before he moves on to direct his dream project Dune, he has to wrap post-production on Blade Runner 2049– the long awaited sequel to the sci-fi smash hit. Villeneuve chatted with Variety about all of his various projects and revealed his philosophy on the use of CGI: use as little as possible. He would have made his aliens from Arrival just puppets in an aquarium if it weren’t so expensive.
Obviously, there’s going to be CGI in the movie — cars can’t fly all by themselves just yet — but this should be comforting news to those who feel the CG fatigue. While filmmakers can accomplish some truly marvelous feats through the use of digital effects, there is a tendency to over-rely on them, such in the case of Transformers or the Star Wars prequels. Plus, it can be occasionally hard to connect with what’s happening onscreen if you can clearly tell the whole set is fake. Less digital effects can be good for both the audience and the actors who have to do most of the pretending.
You can check out some of these practical effects and tricks from cinematographer Roger Deakins in the trailer for Blade Runner 2049 below.
Blade Runner 2049 is scheduled to hit theaters on October 6, 2017.