Fans of practical effects rejoice! Rather than relying on lots of green screen CGI nonsense, the upcomin 2049 is (apparently) doing almost everything practically, in-camera, to create a more immersive, realistic experience. At least, that’s what Ana de Armas claims. Speaking at Comic-Con this weekend, the actor explained that when she was on the set t see a single tennis ball on a stick anywhere
It would be easy to write this off as mere hype—after all, surely the movie must have done some green screen stuff, right? Thankfully, though, Warner Bros has given us definitive proof of just how elaborate and genuine their sets were for this movie . Plenty of attendees got the chance to enjoy a brief stroll through a Los Angeles slum, with actors bringing the scene to life as if this were genuinely the world of Blade Runner.
“We had no green screens; everything was real. They built everything for real. The sets were alive. It was very organic; everything was happening in real time. Whatever was flying was flying for real. Whatever was moving – the rain… everything was real. We actually had nothing to imagine. It was a gift. Whoever decided to do this for real, thank you.”
It’s hard not to get excited about a Blade Runner movie that’s created without a lot of the modern technical cheats that are used to assemble movies after the fact in our era of film making. There’s been a growing disdain in recent years for the time-saving but ultimately emotionally bankrupt art of green screen, with audiences praising any movie that decides to do things the old
fashioned way. The biggest problem with green screen and CGI, though, is that a movie’s shelf-life drops dramatically. Puppet work in The Dark Crystal looks as impressive today as it did thirty years ago, but state-of-the art CGI work in any major modern blockbuster will look fake and cheap in a few years as technology continues to advance.
Of course, the fact that nothing was green on the set of Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t mean that CGI hasn’t been used to enhance the movie’s visuals—far from it; Ana de Armas’ comments refer to her own experience of acting on the film’s sets, and not to the computer work that will add neat details after the fact. Movies like Captain America: Civil War are getting pretty good at
digitizing CGI characters or costumes over the top of practical effects (Spider-Man’s on-set costume in the airport battle is dramatically different to the CGI suit that appears in the finished movie), so actors can interact with genuine elements of a shoot that may be replaced at a later date.
What matters, though, is that Denis Villeneuve has tried his best to keep Blade Runner 2049 feeling like a natural extension of the original movie’s style and tone—and that meansto beef up the film’s aesthetics. For a movie about the threat of digital imitators taking the place of organic humans, this seems oddly fitting.