Doug Trumbull

"In a space film like STAR TREK or STAR WARS you have flying vehicles that are out in space, not interacting with anything. There are no reflections on the surface of the vehicle or any particular lighting complexity. The lighting of miniatures like that is pretty simple. But when you have a miniature that has to interact with a live environment or another miniature environment, it becomes very complicated. For example, the vehicles in BLADE RUNNER have a lot of bright lights on them, and those lights have to shine on the miniature buildings. If the buildings have lights on them, they have to reflect on the miniatures. And they're actually being shot at two different times. You really have to think it out to get the interactive lighting to work right.

"It's difficult to photograph spacecraft miniatures with the elements of layers of gray and rain being opticalled into it. Smoke, steam and fire were all added in miniature. And, traditionally, water and fire are the biggest problems for special effects people because it's so hard to get them in scale. If they're not done right, your eye tends to notice it. A lot of work went into shooting large-scale rain effects. For instance, when you see miniature shots or matte painting shots, there's rain dripping through the frame or distant-apperaing rain, that's actually just shot outdoors late at night with nothing else. Just rain with nothing else and that rain is superimposed with the miniature shots optically. It took many more optical levels than the normal kind of effects of space or a CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. So, it was a real expansion on the kinds of effects we had done before.

"Ridley's plan was to saturate the movie with advertisements and media. We came up with this idea of projecting slides and movies onto a screen surface that was made of a sort of textured plastic. So, instead of looking like a movie projected on a screen, it looked like a series of bulbs shooting up like lights in Times Square. Actually, they were movies being projected onto those surfaces in a separate shot and then opticalled into the main shot. All those commercials had to be shot, they had to be built for the film--opticals, animation, titles, and costumes.

"I think Ridley is brilliant; he's very demanding, very particular. He's wonderful because he draws so well. He used to be an illustrator, so when you get into a storyboard meeting or a conference about a prop or a scene, he's able to express what he wants very clearly by drawing a picture of it. It was delightful working with a man like him--a movie director who also really knows his craft. He's had a lot of experience whith TV commercials and technology. He knows his cameras, his lenses and is able to express what he wants technically--and he really enjoys it. It's not very easy for just any director to come in and make a movie like BLADE RUNNER. He's insatiable.

"The challenge was to make composites of vehicles, spinners, live action, rain, lighting effects, big read out screens, flashing lights, neon, spinners in the distance, and camera movements all work simultaneously. These were the most complicated opticals we have ever done. There are more elements per shot, more things moving per shot, more different techniques in each shot. We're really proud of it. Some of the best effects I've ever seen."

-Doug Trumbull

L.A. Set

Construction of the intricately detailed downtown Los Angeles streets took place on The Burbank Studios backlot, against the backdrop of the San Bernardino mountains.

Set Buildings

To accomplish the rotating flying effect of the spinner, the miniature buildings were placed at an angle. Many different angles were photographed to achieve the special effect of the spinner flying through the futuristic city.

L.A. Sketch

Syd Mead's design for the bustling city of the future in the year 2019.


Small-scale buildings were constructed with extreme care and detail- even down to the tiny individually-paned windows, venetian blinds and shutters.

"The blimp is a wonderful image. It's the height of technology gone mad. It's part future and part past. The concept of this big dumb thing floating over the city--using that as a way of advertising in the future is a wonderful idea."

-David Dryuer (Special Effects Photographic Supervisor)

The Blimp

The blimp booms out its offworld advertisement while Deckard awaits a place at the noodle bar. The blimp, a miniature model about 6 feet long, was manufactured by technicians at Entertainment Effects Group, where they animated the sign and its messages were also created.

Off World logo

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Blimp advertisements used to attract people to live offworld-- "the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure."

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