Inside Blade Runner 2049: Miniature Sets of Los Angeles by Weta Workshop

When catching a contemporary Hollywood movie like ‘Blade Runner 2049’ at the theater, it’s easy to assume nearly everything we see is CGI, but a new video from the famed Weta Workshop gives us an inside look at the incredible miniature world they created for the film. They bring Philip K. Dick’s dystopian sci-fi vision of Los Angeles even further into terrifying focus through the lens of director Ridley Scott, showing how the city evolved over the decades that have ensued since the original 1982 film took place.

The city is now blanketed by smog, constant rain and snow from extreme pollution of the entire earth. The Weta design team built upon the original film’s classic aesthetic, making the architecture even more doom and gloom than it was before, and exploring the ways in which the polluted atmosphere affects residents of the city, even at ground level.

Weta artists conceived, built and hand-painted the miniature sets, creating an entire fictional L.A. that’s terrifying and amazing all at once. The centerpiece of the set is the LAPD building, which has come to loom villainously over the rest of the city. The miniature for this particular structure is 16 feet tall, so large and heavy, they had to build it lying down and lift it into vertical position with a chain block.

As noted on Weta’s Instagram, each and every shot of the city (led by cinematographer Alex Funke) “represents many, many hours of meticulous setup and painstaking attention to every detail.”

“During the film’s production, Weta Workshop was brought on to build large miniatures for many of the key environments. The sequences had been worked out in pre-vis, but required a detailed design pass to imbue the environments with life and realism, these concepts were used as a guide for the miniature teams. Extreme weather, tropical storms, and tsunamis are commonplace in 2049, leaving coastal cities destroyed. Mostly abandoned, the cities are now wastelands, occupied only by scavengers and those that were unable to escape.”