Blade Runner 2049 Composition (16 replies and 8 comments)
I've got a question about your composition-process (including the work with the director).
First of all here is the still i want to talk about:
Can you remember the details of shooting this composition.
I don't really want to know "WHY" you shot it like this but more of how long would a shot like this take on a normal shooting day (it would have been pre-lit I suppose).
In this particular case: How did you talk to the director about the composition? Did you "find" it on the spot or was it planned like this?
I mean I don't want to overanalize things but especially in a room like this a perfectly centered composition would be probably the first thing most cinematographers would come up with.
The composition seems centered - but it's not, really. It's slightly off but that's what made me curious, to be honest.
How can we picture you (and Denis) setting up one of those shots?
(Also if you still have the time to answer: Did you use gels on the lights or were those colors done in post? How does this slight diffision/bloom occur?)
sorry the link didn't work:
I've also attached the file to the original post.
Thanks so much in advance.
Denis and I had scouted that location a few times and we story boarded everything we were going to shoot there. Though nothing is ever 'sacred' and things always developed as we were shooting.
I had pre lit that location with all the angles we were planning to shoot in mind. All the windows were gelled and we had multiple lifts outside every window with lamps raised to previously set heights. Basically, that one shot did not take very long. Maybe 20 minutes and only that long because a large exterior diffusion frame had to be adjusted as we changed our camera position from a side shot to this front shot.
This is a novicey technical question, but I'm dying to know how you knew what you would need to make this shot happen. The number of lights, the output, how much diffusion, etc. Is it mostly experience, is it maths, metering, or experimentation? I would love to know how you would plan out the lighting for a shot like this, or shots in general from start to finish. I'm very interested in the process.
Thank you Mr. Deakins!
Hi again, and thanks so much for the reply.
Quick follow up question concerning lighting:
You said you had lights outside every window. In the wide shot it seems like there is "one big and very strong source" right outside the building. Do you know which sources you had outside?
What gels were on those windows? Diffusion + Colorgels?
To clarify my first question again: I was also talking about the horizon in this shot which seems slightly off (if you look at the top of the frame).
Although this renders this shot not "technically perfect" I am pretty sure it was on purpose.
Are you introducing things like (for lack of a better word) "human error" to your work?
It feels so much more alive and real than a let's say technically perfect shot.
Thanks again for your replies and this forum in general.
The framing was probably just 'human error'. We were on a wide lens, probably a 16mm or a 14mm, so there was some 'bending' going on, especially as/if I had not set the frame absolutely square to the building.
The way I light is based on instinct, followed by experience, followed by a study of some photo-metric charts if need be. Actually, I don't look at photo-metric charts for a shot like the one we are talking about as it was a pretty simple rig, if a little large. When you see the film you will be able to see more clearly what was involved. When you are working on a film of this scale you are constantly referring to your Gaffer about the number and size of the units you have in mind. I might suggest a 12K and my Gaffer might ,usually playing it safe, suggest an 18K.
I think I won't go into detail about the gels I used etc. until you see the final product as there were a number of combinations.
Thank you so much for the answer, I suspected it was mostly really good lighting sense and past experience. Would you or any one else know where I could find a pertinent photo-metric chart on the internet though? I don't really know what it is, where I could find one to study, or what they're exactly used for. So any help as to what those are is super appreciated!
Google is always your friend in these inquiries.
as a starting point you can use the arri interactive photometic calculator.
Choose the fixtures you like and it'll tell you pretty much everything you need to know.
also: if you want to know how much light you loose by using a certain diffusion, you can refer to the LEE Diffusion Comparator. It'll tell you how much light you loose in stops.
Same for color-gels.
Hope that helps?
Yep that helps! I've got the basic gist of it. I imagine often it's a whole lot more complicated but thanks!!
Roger, would you say this Blade Runner film is one of the most technically complex and ambitious films you've been apart of?
Thanks so much for your answers Roger.
I'm really looking forward to seeing the film!
'Blade Runner' was certainly ambitious and a technical challenge. But every film, big or small, has its own challenges. I believe I am always pushing myself, which makes every experience 'challenging'.
I remember watching several interviews of you a few years back and everything you were asked what kind of film you'd love to do, you answered 'science fiction'. I hope this was a dream come true, I'm so excited to see it. I know how rewarding it is to be given a dream genre project.
The work of a master! Always in awe! :0
This location looks a whole lot like the Odessa Steps scene from The Untouchables. Am I right?
I would imagine sci-fi films must be the hardest films to light, as we normally see more master shots of whole cityscapes and locations. When I saw the original Blade Runner for the first time, I was absolutely gobsmacked by the skill by Jordan Cronenweth, he had invented a unique style that is still very much ahead of its time. Added to this Douglas Trumbull was a part of the film, which only added a heightened level of realism and immersion to the film, it's truly one of the best I've ever seen, even most spfx-heavy films of today are no match to the original Blade Runner. It amazes me how the skill of Trumbull can outshine any computer generated image of today! Such a lost art.
On a philosophical level, I've always felt that innovations in film aesthetics and theory, should never be viewed as a means to create something that looks visually superior. If that were true, we wouldn't be spending $100 M on a Van Gogh or a Picasso. Sure, there are some people who probably only buy Gogh's or Picasso's for their inherent status proclivities, but there are many more people who love and admire these artists simply because of the painters' basic forms and techniques.
I challenge anyone to attempt to recreate the opening scene in Bladerunner without the use of actual models.