Blade Runner White Dragon Cut > Blade Runner > Making of The CGI for Syd Mead’s Chinatown : Part 4

Making of The CGI for Syd Mead’s Chinatown : Part 4

A complete CGI recreation of Syd Mead’s production sketch of Chinatown that was never recreated in the film! This is part 4 of the making, a summary of the CGI completion process.

Reproduction of the Warner Bros. backlot which Syd Mead based his sketch.

My first task in creating a CGI recreation of Syd Mead’s Chinatown was to recreate the original buildings which Mead based his sketch.
Probably, Mead first drew the original buildings for his sketch and then layers future elements on them.。I was going to create a CGI using the same process as Mead.

Chinatown sketch drawn by Syd Mead

I had guessed that Mead’s original location for Chinatown was “New York Street,” the Warner Bros. backlot, and Tom Southwell (production illustrator for Blade Runner), who read the article, send a comment that it is correct.

→Message from Tom Southwell

I immediately started making a full-scale CGI of New York Street. When I CGI’d Ridleyville, I created the building by determining the dimensions from the blue prints at the time of filming, but this time I obtained the 3D data for a full-scale 3D model of New York Street from Open Street Maps.

Full-scale 3D model of Warner Brothers Studio New York Street imported from Open Street Map

I added building textures from Google Street View on the 3D model to creat a rough 3D model.

3D model with textures captured from Google Street View

Now, if you look at Mead’s sketch, you can find out that the ground floor of the building retains elements of the New York Street building, while the area above the second floor has been replaced with futuristic elements. Therefore, I decided to faithfully create the elements of New York Street on the first floor of the 3D model, while leaving the textures above the second floor as they were in Google Street View.

Only the first floor was detailed, while the areas above the second floor were only textured.

Mead’s futuristic elements

You can see various machines attached on the wall above the second floor in Mead’s sketch. Paul M. Simon’s “Future Noir” also says that Mead imagined that old buildings would turn out to have various machines on them wall in 2019.

Based on this mead imagination, I created the retrofitted futuristic elements on the wall above the second floor.

Futuristic elements retrofitted on the walls

Sign with mysterious Chinese

The last step in the creation process of the CIG for Chinatown is the creation of Chinese signs. You can see many electric signs with Chinese
Originally, I should decipher the Chinese on these signs, but it’s shame that it was impossible to do. It seems that Mead did not faithfully draw the Chinese Characters, but only the rough shapes of them. In the end, I decided to substitute the Chinese-Kanji that were similar of them.

→Making of the electric signs

Chinatown Special Version

Now, I created an animation with the finished 3D model of Chinatown. This scene is for the scene where Leon and Roy meet up to go to Chew’s Eye Factory. Therefore, the police spinner will not take off from this location, but I made a special animation of the police spinner taking off from Chinatown.
This is a special version that you can not see in the film of White Dragon Cut.

Next Task

The next task is to composite CGI with live-action scenes.
Leon comes up the stairs from the subway entrance and joins Roy to go to Chew’s Eye Factory. Enjoy the next article!

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