Into The Future With Alcon Entertainment’s Blade Runner 2049, Territory Studio And CINEMA 4D

If there is one film from the last 40 years that was so far ahead of its time it still looks great today, it’s Blade Runner. The seminal cyberpunk film, based on a Philip K. Dick short story, featured ground-breaking visuals and a future more dark and moody than anything that had gone before. Back to the current day, and Alcon Entertainment‘s follow-up to Ridley Scott’s 1982 masterpiece carried almost impossible-to-meet expectations, heaping pressure on all the VFX companies working on it.

For Territory Studio, it all started when Blade Runner 2049 Supervising Art Director Paul Inglis approached the company in pre-production. Peter Eszenyi, Creative Lead for Territory, explained the initial concept, “There was no specific brief at the outset. We went to Budapest to speak to Paul Inglis and Director, Denis Villeneuve, who outlined what the film was about thematically, and what the Blade Runner universe (some 30 years after the original) contained in terms of progression and context.”

“We also talked about how technology could fit into that as a supporting narrative device and how he felt that technology should look and feel in the context of the larger themes.”

BladeRunner2049 UI Reel | Screen Graphics | Territory Studio from Territory on Vimeo.

The task, then, was to create graphics for a variety of different screens, from monitors in the LAPD office, to inside the Wallace Library and Deckard’s Penthouse. The team of six core members, scaling up to 10 when needed, worked from May to November 2016 and produced over 100 original screens across 15 sets.

However, instead of simply extrapolating from the first film, the Director Villeneuve postulated a world where there had been an apocalyptic event that had wiped out digital capability and files. It was from that base mark that the technology would develop from, making it, if anything, even more of a challenge.

Peter revealed, “It was our deep experience of designing for film narratives and creating visual narrative devices that support plot, character and performance that enabled us to take such a highly experimental approach with confidence. Denis didn’t want to reference the original film directly, but wanted a distinct look and feel to this technology.”

“Our task was to reinvent tech as we know it. He was specific in his directions about wanting that technology to feel organic, abstract, optical and physical. So, for this project, we didn’t design interface overlays, but the whole system for each type of technology, from the creation of footage, optical effects and projections, etc.”

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Nowhere is this more apparent than the morgue scene, which is a subtle reference to how Deckard used technology in the first film, but incorporates a more mechanical and optical framework. The aim for Territory was to create a series of images that show bone tissue under increasing magnification that suggested an electron microscope, but with more physicality and drama.

Using art department references of pelvic bone, they created a series of images that showed the bone tissue in increasing magnification and abstraction, along with a mechanical system of optical lenses that physically shunted into place to lead up to the reveal moment, when Officer K, Joshi and the audience see the serial number.

Peter added, “It was a pivotal, but very complex, shot. The whole scene was carefully choreographed and shot with screens on set, so that the actors could really perform against a live sequence of images.”

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This was also the case with Officer K’s Spinner, which featured a set of displays for navigation, communication, scanning and surveillance monitors. The screen graphics needed to reflect K’s low status as replicant and blade runner so his Spinner and monitors are old and battered. Screenburn, ghosting, glitching, colour degradation and texture effects were all created in Cinema 4D to suggest that he was making do with out-of-date technology.

The end result of Territory’s work was terrabytes of data and more than an hour of animated content that was delivered to production or distributed to the other VFX vendors for incorporating into their shots.

With such a challenging and high-profile project, Peter acknowledged that it was, “the ease of use and the speed and stability of Cinema 4D that allowed us to experiment whilst being able to keep to the tight deadlines.”

Duncan Evans is the author of Digital Mayhem: 3D Landscapes and Digital Mayhem: 3D Machines and was the launch Editor of 3D Artist magazine.

All images courtesy of Alcon Entertainment / Territory Studio.

Territory Studio Website

This article originally appeared on MAXON’s website. See original article here



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