BLADERUNNER 2049 – The SEA WALL
Looking at Lighting
This sequence was originally going to be shot at the tank in Malta where Ridley Scott shot some of ‘White Squall’. However, that would have been a difficult move from Budapest and made it hard for us to prep the work. Consequently production decided it was more effective to build a 150’ square tank on the backlot of a facility in Budapest.
However big that might seem to be it was certainly quite small when you took into account all the effects equipment that was critical for the scene; the dump tanks, the wave makers, the smoke machines, the massive crane required to suspend the main picture vehicle as it was sinking, etc. etc. The picture below will give you a good impression of what it took to create the storm as seen in the film.
Both for creative and for practical reasons I decided to light the scene as if only by the practical sources attached to the vehicles. Denis was very much on board with this idea and totally supportive when I felt it was necessary to adjust the action to accommodate the limitations of this approach. Between the lighting and the difficulty of getting a camera in the right place to shoot the action, the scene proved quite challenging. When the main vehicle had sunk and that light source had gone I was left only with the headlights from K’s spinner so I decided to mount two Bad Boys on cranes, so that I could pan a spotlight across the action when things got really dark. This was invaluable for the part of the sequence when K and Deckard swim to safety.
For the shots on the sea wall itself we mounted two cameras on 50’ telescopic cranes to each side of the set. The platforms holding them were removable to give us as much flexibility in shooting the action as possible. We were using Alexa XT cameras mounted on Hydro heads and protected by Nauticam housings.
The interior of the main picture vehicle was lit only using the LED unit built into the ceiling. This was designed and purpose built, as was the entire vehicle. The lighting was waterproofed, as the vehicle was to sink at the end of the scene. A remote dimming system allowed us to control the light for a flicker effect as it crashed and to change from a dim warm glow to a bright cool white as if turning on to emergency mode as it crashed. I felt this an imperative, as it was to become my major light source. We could also selectively dim areas of the light if it were necessary for a particular camera angle.
The plans you see above represent where I started from. As it became clear to me that I wanted the light sources to only come from the spinners, I removed the rig with the 10Ks off the white bounce in the first diagram and removed the 10Ks from the cranes in the second diagram. I did add bad boys to those cranes as if other vehicles were passing overhead which helped if I needed a small amount of extra light after the main vehicle was lost to the sea.
Inside the vehicle we were shooting with an Alexa Mini inside an Aquacam housing mounted on a Hydro head and a bazooka.