Re: Blade Runner and the Merits of Rain

DO LogoI’ve been in the effects business for 15 years. Now I have a small business trying to use commodity parts to solve expensive film/HDTV production problems. Sometimes 25 years after the film was made.

It’s all about getting the shot done. Before the days of digital effects, they would put Vaseline on the lens of the optical printer to hide the wire. It would blur the print.

Digital effects started in the early 80’s. Most effects were still practical, because the digital effects were prohibitively expensive.

I was involved with films such as Titanic and Fifth Element in the late 90’s. We had a full model shop and a large digital effects facility. For each shot we would decide if it could be done better, cheaper, faster, digitally or as a model. We primarily used expensive SGI systems for the digital effects. I introduced Linux to the film industry for the back-end (non interactive) portion of the process.

These days the model shops are all but gone. Almost everything is done digitally. The results are better and a lot more flexible. The majority of the work is done on commodity hardware using Linux in the big facilities and Windows/Macs in the smaller ones. The price hasn’t gotten any lower, because everyone wants bigger effects and the flexibility allows people to avoid planning and making decisions.

This brings us around to Blade Runner and your post. Our system was used as part of the restoration process. They scanned the images at 4k (4x the data of normal film work) and used our Frame Thrower to view the work to decide what needed to be done and to perform quality control on the results. 25 years later commodity hardware and digital effects go in to fixing things Ridley Scott skipped by shooting in the rain.

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