A new feature in Entertainment Weekly has gone into a pivotal and top secret VFX heavy sequence within Denis Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049,” a moment that calls back to the original in a fairly jaw dropping way.
The two-minute scene focuses on a brief appearance of a Replicant designed to look like Sean Young’s Rachael as she appeared in the 2019-set era of the original Ridley Scott film. Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor John Nelson was behind the visual effect which involved English actress Loren Peta, Young herself, and various digital filmmaking tricks.
Peta was cast and put in full makeup and hair to be shot alongside Harrison Ford during the film’s production. Young herself was on the set that day (her son worked on the film as a production assistant) as an advisor.
Much later, on a weekend in Budapest, both actresses were put in a facial motion-capture rig and filmed, with both women saying Rachael’s dialogue from the film. Then things were handed over to visual effects company MPC that worked on building Rachael’s face from model to skeleton to human. Everything from the neck up in the footage from that scene was replaced and rebuilt with CG.
During creation, close attention was paid to Young’s cheekbones, chin, eyes and head tilting in the original to make sure to capture her character’s mannerisms. Nelson is said to be very proud of the character’s hair: “Digital hair is really beautiful but sometimes it can be too perfect. So we made flyaway hair the way it would in real life.”
You can see some photos of the work done below: