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All of the sets for Blade Runner had ceilings in them, and some were built very low to enhance the feeling of containment, a motif particularly well-suited to the anamorphic format. "We had to light from the floor or through the windows," Cronenweth describes. "There is a lot of night photography lit through windows. The sources would vary. They could be anything including searchlights, signs, direct light, indirect light, colored light, or lightning. In Deckard's apartment, we created zones of light that automatically illuminated when one walked in an energy-saving device of the future perhaps. As the depths of the apartment were penetrated, more lights went on until finally the entire place was lit. This effect was mostly lost, however, in the final cut of the film."
Perhaps the most interesting set was replicant creator Dr. Tyrell's cavernous office. According to Cronenweth, "This was one of the most exciting to work in. It was very large approximately 60' long by 30' wide with three huge windows along one side and structural ceilings supports rising from a shiny black marble floor. The walls were gray cement and the room was virtually colorless.
"The scene called for the room to be illuminated by sunrise. Outside the windows, we had a front-projection screen upon which was projected an 8" by 10" plate of the futuristic city at sunrise, which [special photographic effects supervisor] Doug Trumbull had created. This enabled us to photograph the players walking in front of the lower part of the screen, and gave Doug the opportunity to create a background with movement in it for the upper portions of the screen area. We had to coordinate the color of the set to match the color of Doug's sunrise. Sunlight was created through the use of arcs outside the windows and amber gels.
"At a certain point in the scene, in order to reduce the light level in the room for Rachel's Voigt-Kampff test, Tyrell [Joe Turkel] presses a button to cause enormous tinted shades to descend over the windows. The 'shades' were actually put in later optically; however, the lighting effect of the shades being lowered had to be created while photographing the scene. To accomplish this, Carey Griffith, the key grip, built a rig that would allow a very large .6 neutral density filter to slide down over the six arcs being used to simulate sunlight."
The set for Tyrell's office was also redressed to serve as two other spaces: Tyrell's bedroom, which was photographed in flickering firelight, and the Tyrell Corporation interview room, which was photographed with bright white shafts of daylight. According to Cronenweth, "That set looks totally different in each situation, and yet it's the same set. The flickering for the firelight was created by arcs shooting through torn strips of silk for transmission and torn strips of Duvateen for shadows."
The most unusual set for the film was the "Ice Room," which was built in a meat storage locker in order to create the effect of a refrigerated genetic-engineering laboratory. The ceilings were repeatedly hosed down over five days to form icicles, and then the crew shot for two days at minus 7°F while it was 98°F outside. Cronenweth started out using arcs to light the set, but soon discovered that they were using more oxygen than was coming into the room, except when the door was open. This necessitated changing to HMIs. The set was translucent along one side, allowing Cronenweth to light the scene through the wall. He added smoke to the scene to compliment the effect of cold breath.
[ continued on page 5 ] © 1999 ASC