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‘Blade Runner 2049’: How that Holographic Sex Scene Was Made Using GoPros, an iPad, and Stopwatches

VFX supervisor John Nelson explains the process.

“Blade Runner 2049”

Blade Runner 2049” hasn’t proven to be the moneymaker many were hoping for, but it has inspired a great deal of affection from much of its audience. Among the most talked-about moments is a sex scene involving Ryan Gosling’s Officer K, his hologram Joi (ana de Armas), and a prostitute named Mariette (Mackenzie Davis) hired to bridge the physical gap between the two would-be lovers.

The women merge in the sad, innovative scene, synchronizing their movements so as to make K feel like he’s actually with Joi. They aren’t entirely in sync, however — and, according to VFX supervisor John Nelson, the imperfection was by design.

“We’d rehearse, and then we’d shoot Mariette first, and then Denis would pick a take, then I would go through that take with the script supervisor,” Nelson tells Syfy about shooting the sequence.

“We’d use a stopwatch and time out it: ‘At two seconds in she lifts her hand. At four seconds in she touches his face. She begins to walk around at eight seconds in.’ Then I would take an iPad and I would put it in front of Ana, right in front of where Ryan is, and she would line up to get right on top of where Mariette was, line up Joi to Mariette.”

“If you’re looking at a glass and you put water into it, you see the front side of the glass but you also see the back side,” he adds. “We mapped out what that back shell would look like, as if you had a bottle that had a label on both sides. It’s as if you look through the front of the bottle and see the label on the back of the bottle, but backwards.” Read his full interview here.

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