BLADERUNNER 2049 – THE ORPHANAGE
Looking at Lighting
When we enter the Orphanage we see K in silhouette in the doorway. In the foreground are the rim lit shapes of children. This shot and K’s journey thorough this initial space was lit entirely from outside. What the camera is looking at is the diffusion, backed by an array of lamps, which has been replaced in post with the landscape through which K has just been walking. There were only rare occasions in ‘BR 2049’ where we used a blue or green screen as this would have limited my ability to light the sets in a naturalistic way. Besides, the white of the backlit diffusion gave enough separation for the effects artists to draw a key.
For me, the lighting inside the main dome of the Orphanage was the least successful of anything we achieved in ‘BR2049’. I see this as being because of a conceptual flaw as well as the practical limitations of a set built almost to the walls and roof of the stage. Neither Denis nor I felt we should establish that there is any power supply in the Orphanage and to remain faithful to the light we have just experienced on the outside I chose to create an overall soft light as if it were percolating through gaps in the roof.
The roof of the set and these ‘gaps’ did not exist on stage. Where we see them in the final film they have been rendered in post to match the initial design concept. The set piece itself was some 27’ high and between this and the perms, at 48’, was the lighting rig.
As you can see from the diagrams I used multiple Space lights above a ¼ Grid cloth diffusion for a basic soft overhead whilst beneath this was a very large Cukoloris, basically a solid with a pattern of holes cut into it, in an attempt to break the light up into a more dappled pattern.
The Cukoloris was simply a large black with holes pre cut and secured by Velcro flaps so as to be adjustable. In an attempt to make more of this pattern I intended to use Mole Beams set between the Spacelites and shooting through the ¼ Grid cloth. Whilst looking at the rig with an initial set of lamps in place it became obvious that the Molebeams were not working as I had intended.
We then tried 12 bulb Maxi Brutes as an alternative but this didn’t seem to be so much of an improvement. Initially, the Spacelites were themselves diffused underneath as well as on the sides so we tried removing the lower diffusion ring. This created a slightly ‘sharper’ top light so I decided to settle on this whilst combining it with three sets of Maxi Brutes aligned to be a slight rim light for each of the three main camera angles. The Maxi Brutes, in effect, replaced the Molebeams in the sectional diagram
I would love to try to light this set again in a larger stage. I still believe that, if I could have had a little more height, the initial concept for the rig would have worked something more like I had imagined.
After the scene within the dome there is an exterior shot establishing K and Cotton walking towards the belly of a large ship. This is an effects shot combining the figures and ground with a CG dome and the hull of a ship. The inside of this ship was shot in an abandoned power plant outside Budapest. To light the shots on the walkways I used two construction cranes with a box type array of 4 x 18K HMIs on each.
Cotton’s Office was a separate set constructed in a local warehouse that also housed the Police Station Corridor. Again not wanting to introduce practical lamp sources into the Orphanage sequence and to blend the look of the set with the location work in the power plant I lit Cotton’s Office as if there was minimal daylight entering from above.