Blade Runner 2049 Used Amazingly Detailed Miniature Sets to Bring Its Cities to Life

Despite 35 years of technological advancements separating Blade Runner and its sequel, the visual effects wizards who helped create the tired and worn futuristic version of Los Angeles for Blade Runner 2049 still relied on detailed miniature sets and buildings instead of just replicating it all in CG.


In this short behind-the-scenes look at the making of Blade Runner 2049, Weta Workshop gives us a look inside its model shops. They produce incredibly detailed miniatures that, when filmed with the right camera move, lens, frame speed, and lighting, can actually look more convincing than cutting-edge CG. 3D modeling software is still used to design the scale-model cities, but building, painting, and weathering is all handled by talented artists who can make a five-foot tower look like a skyscraper on film.

[YouTube via Nerdist]


John Cooley

I love this so much.

For the record, Alex Funke also worked with Weta on the masssive miniatures used on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which, until BR2049, I considered to be pretty much the last great cinematic modelwork extravaganza (the Star Wars prequels deserve some love in that regard as well- some great BTS pictures can be found with a quick google).

As incredibly good as CGI has gotten at depicting landscapes and structures, there’s still something special about using miniatures. There’s a level of textural reality that CGI hasn’t 100% nailed- though some recent films have come really close. Regardless, I love the ambition here. It’s really beautiful to look at.