BLADE RUNNER CONTINUES TO DAZZLE
2007 is the 25th anniversary of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, and in Popular Mechanics special effects technician Adam Savage discusses why its FX are still better than much of what’s on screens right now.
You have to remember, Blade Runner was made years before digital effects became common. Today, CGI [computer-generated imagery] is becoming a mature art form, but even now there are times you just can’t beat doing some effects like these “in camera.” Most of these cityscapes are a combination of models and traditional matte paintings. For the aerial shots they used a set about 12 ft. wide, and those towers you see belching fire are about 12 in. high. They’re made of etched brass and model parts and use thousands of tiny, grain-of-wheat light bulbs like you’d find in a dollhouse. They filmed some of the fireballs in the parking lot behind the studio, and for others they used stock footage from the 1970 Antonioni film, Zabriskie Point.
Speaking of Zabriskie Point, Ray Pride pens an appreciation and links to the closing scene on YouTube (the scene with those fireballs), which I’ve embedded below.