BLADERUNNER 2049 – ABANDONED BASEMENT
Looking at Lighting
The Abandoned Church Basement set was shot on location. We constructed a tent around the building so that we could shoot during daytime hours as that fitted our schedule far better.
The floor of the set was submerged in a few inches of water so the noise that you hear when the extras walk up from the background in the scene was the noise that echoed off the stone walls when anyone moved around the set. For this reason it was imperative that everyone stay as still as practically possible during both the shooting and the lighting of the scene. Also, apart from the noise element, the water had to be still in order for me to judge what the effect of the light bouncing off it would look like.
As you can see in the diagram I had imagined a series of moving lights outside the windows but I finally settled with just one that moved during the opening section of the scene and was stationary after that. This basement scene was very dialogue driven and a constant movement of more than one light would have been impossible to match from one take to another. In the previous scene between Wallace and Deckard the moving light that was on those characters was not affecting the background, which was lit with its own caustic pattern, so mismatches in the light from shot to shot seem less apparent. In actuality it helps create an unsettling feeling for the scene.
Also on the diagram for the Basement set Skypans are specified for the main light source whereas I ended up using a T12 and a 20K Fresnel lamp. We started out looking at a Skypan but the light just didn’t have enough punch to create the hard shafts I was after. The windows were quite small relative to the space and also very dirty. Although we smashed out some glass to give the set a more distressed look I still needed a Fresnel rather than an open face lamp to give me the required light level and sharpness of beam.
Almost all the lighting is coming from outside the windows. Inside only a couple of Tweenies were used on regular stands either to bounce some soft light into a close shot or on an off set arm to add some localized caustic reflections to the background walls. Of course, working in water with electricity always requires extra caution and special safety measures but having just the two small lamps standing in the water made life a lot easier!
We created concentric ripples over the flat surface of the water using the drip from a plastic bottle with some holes pierced in it, which was very low tech but effective. A single Tweenie was enough to create the caustic, which can be seen to the bottom left on the side profile shot pictured. The large caustic patterns of light on the columns beyond K are coming from the main 20K, which is square to the set. The window shaped pattern of light on the wall behind K is from the T12, which is also the lamp that moves at the outset.
One interesting note I should point out is that we shot some pick up shots for the scene on stage and in LA long after the original shoot. Some close shots of both Freysa and K were made against green screen and matched in to plate elements that we had shot of the original set and in the original lighting. This is something that was done on every set purely as a safety measure and it certainly paid off this time. The tricky part for me was matching the caustics on the actor’s faces to the timing on the original backgrounds without having the geography of the set to work with. But that is all part of the process.