Blade Runner’s Tiny VFX Budget Meant Making Major Changes To The Opening Scene

Luckily for Ridley Scott and EEG, the opening shot and the movie in general turned out looking great. More than great, in fact. It remains one of the most influential sci-fi movies of all time, in large part due to its ground-breaking visual effects spearheaded by the now-legendary Douglas Trumbull.

Trumbull’s team, forced to come up with ingenious solutions to their budget issues, created shots that have truly stood the test of time using all-manner of visual effects solutions. As Adam Savage observed, in the “Hades” shot alone, there’s “fiber optics, there’s grain of wheat bulbs, there’s transparencies with lights behind them,” alongside matte work to impose the flames onto the shot. A 15ft by 8ft table was used to build the bleak futuristic landscape, which used brass models with acid etching as the buildings. The final result that you see in the film was all captured in camera using multiple exposures — an approach that helped give the shots throughout the movie their realistic feel.

That’s all pretty impressive for a movie that was given less than half of what it needed to pull off such extravagant VFX shots. And while the film didn’t make much of an impact at the box office and was largely dismissed by critics initially, it is now widely regarded as one of the finest sci-fi films of the 20th Century. And it’s a good thing, too. I think I’d rather live in Ridley Scott’s LA hell-scape than a world where this kind of art goes unappreciated.

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