Film and an­i­mated fea­ture de­sign­ers re­veal the se­crets be­hind build­ing the land­scapes of Blade Run­ner 2049,

3D World - - CONTENTS - Lego Nin­jago and Va­le­rian

Dive into the mak­ing of Blade Run­ner 2049, The Lego Nin­jago Movie and Va­le­rian as we dis­cover the work be­hind their in­cred­i­ble world de­signs

The lo­ca­tion was swathed in or­ange light and had rem­nants of cur­rent Ve­gas as well as new, fu­tur­is­tic, struc­tures By fo­cus­ing on the or­ange tint and giv­ing ev­ery­thing a worn and wasted feel, Frame­store was able to make sure view­ers knew they were in a very dif­fer­ent world

The worlds you see in your favourite live ac­tion and an­i­mated fea­tures are the end re­sults of hours, days and months of work by CG and vis­ual ef­fects artists. But those worlds also had to start some­where, and that’s typ­i­cally with con­cept artists, art di­rec­tors and pro­duc­tion de­sign­ers.

It’s with these artists that many early de­ci­sions get made about build­ing the aes­thet­ics of a world. With feed­back from other film­mak­ers, they im­ple­ment a vi­sion for how vis­ual themes in cer­tain land­scapes are made clear and can be dif­fer­en­ti­ated from other lo­ca­tions, and what char­ac­ter­is­tics might make up a city, a planet or even just a room.

3D World asked sev­eral artists about how they helped build worlds in some re­cent fea­ture films and an­i­mated movies. Frame­store head of art depart­ment Martin Macrae de­tails the de­signs be­hind the scorched-earth Las Ve­gas in

Blade Run­ner 2049; An­i­mal Logic pro­duc­tion de­signer Kim Tay­lor and art di­rec­tor Felic­ity Coonan ex­plore the worlds of The Lego

Nin­jago Movie; and con­cept artist Ben Mauro dis­cusses his vi­sion for alien-es­que lo­ca­tions in Va­le­rian.

What hap­pens in Ve­gas

A big fea­ture film such as Blade

Run­ner 2049 will typ­i­cally have its own art depart­ment re­spon­si­ble for con­ceiv­ing key de­signs, and in this case it was led by pro­duc­tion de­signer Den­nis Gass­ner. But vis­ual ef­fects stu­dios are also some­times asked to con­tribute early de­signs via their own art de­part­ments, and these con­tri­bu­tions con­tinue all the way through pro­duc­tion and post.

In­deed, Frame­store, which de­liv­ered fi­nal vis­ual ef­fects

for sev­eral se­quences in Blade

Run­ner 2049, also con­trib­uted key con­cepts, in­clud­ing for the de­serted ‘fu­ture’ Las Ve­gas sec­tion of the film in which K (Ryan Gosling) searches for Deckard (Har­ri­son Ford) in what ap­pears to be a city waste­land. Frame­store head of art depart­ment Martin Macrae says the over­all de­sign brief for Ve­gas was to show how the city had grown over the years, from what we know to­day to a vast cen­tral hub for en­ter­tain­ment, at­tract­ing many from around the world and even from Off-world colonies. “The main strip was still the cen­tre for all the at­trac­tions,” notes Macrae, “but the ar­chi­tec­ture had to change and look fa­mil­iar to the way the world was in the orig­i­nal Blade

Run­ner. When we see it in this film, Ve­gas had been left de­serted for many years, so you had to vis­ually see the ef­fects of na­ture start­ing to take it back, and at the same time still see the his­tory of where it had come from.”

The work of Syd Mead, cred­ited as ‘vis­ual fu­tur­ist’ on the orig­i­nal film, was heav­ily in­flu­en­tial to Frame­store, which re­ceived the artist’s orig­i­nal de­signs and a 3D model of fu­ture Las Ve­gas made by Gass­ner’s team. “We used some of that model as a base to work from,” de­tails Macrae, “then we ex­ten­sively de­signed the whole city around this, de­sign­ing ev­ery­thing from huge build­ings all the way down to street-level de­tails, shop fronts, trains, ve­hi­cles and lamps.”

To make it clear that this set­ting was Las Ve­gas, but a Ve­gas af­ter years of no in­hab­i­tants, Frame­store pre­served ex­ist­ing build­ings while also adding new ones. “Ev­ery­thing had to have a sense of pur­pose and his­tory as if you were ex­tend­ing and adding to the real Ve­gas,” says Macrae. “This was a very im­por­tant process to go through in or­der to make it feel more be­liev­able.”

Macrae adds: “Ero­sion was a key word used a lot to de­scribe how the city had to look. The city had been hit by desert winds for many years, in a way sand-blasted, so there were to be no shiny sur­faces any­where. All glass and metal had been dulled down by the harsh en­vi­ron­ment. All this com­bined with pol­lu­tion in the air all added to a very strik­ing colour pal­ette as you see in the film. It was quite un­usual not to make things shiny – usu­ally build­ings get high­lights picked up from the sun, but there was no vis­i­ble sun! It was meant to be a pretty de­press­ing, des­o­late, bleak en­vi­ron­ment.”


An­i­mated fea­tures es­sen­tially need to be de­signed from the ground-up, or in the case of the CG Lego movies, brick by brick by An­i­mal Logic. The most re­cent of these is The Lego Nin­jago Movie, where pro­duc­tion de­sign­ers Kim Tay­lor and Si­mon White­ley and art di­rec­tor Felic­ity Coonan imag­ined a Pan-asian city lo­cated on an is­land, as well as a deep jun­gle in­spired by back­yard plants.

Martin Macrae, Frame­store head of art depart­ment, who over­saw the stu­dio’s de­signs for Blade Run­ner 2049

Kim Tay­lor from An­i­mal Logic, The Lego Nin­jago Movie pro­duc­tion de­signer

Felic­ity Coonan from An­i­mal Logic, The Lego Nin­jago Movie art di­rec­tor

Ben Mauro, Va­le­rian se­nior con­cept de­signer and art di­rec­tor

Bot­tom: Frame­store’s art depart­ment de­liv­ered sev­eral con­cept paint­ings for the de­serted Las Ve­gas land­scape

Below (left): The build­ings were de­signed based on an orig­i­nal 3D model from the film’s over­all pro­duc­tion de­sign team, and tended to be de­void of too many win­dows; in­stead there were dif­fer­ent types of shut­ters and plat­ing that covered fa­cades

Below (right): a fi­nal shot of Ve­gas from the film, as viewed by K as he scouts the city

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