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More Joi: how the giant ‘Blade Runner 2049’ hologram shot was pulled off

As a follow-up to my earlier coverage of Double Negative’s ménage à trois hologram work for Blade Runner 2049, overall visual effects supervisor now shares with vfxblog how Dneg also carried out the stunning giant hologram scene also featuring Joi.

This time, actress Ana de Armas is playing Joi as a hologram advertisement as she sizes up to a dejected Ryan Gosling as K. The sequence involved a greenscreen shot for de Armas, and a separate shoot with interactive lighting for Gosling. Dneg then weaved its hologram magic for the final shots, as Nelson runs down here.

John Nelson: We call it the Pink Joi scene. We shot in the first couple of days of photography. We shot Ana in pink makeup and not much else, on greenscreen, looking at a Coke bottle sized cut-out of K. Then we also had witness cameras on that. We body-tracked the body of Ana and mapped her into a CG version of Joi. We created a ton of projection effects and interior effects and back-shape effects. Then little serrations on her face, which were aimed at looking like pixels. We called it the dollar bill effect, when you look at a bill close-up and you see these little pixels on her face.

Later, we shot K. Roger filmed this on a set which had a 24 or 30 foot tall video wall, like a screen you get for rock concerts and that served as the interactive lighting. What he did is Roger put the footage we shot of Joi, of Ana, on that video wall. Of course, she’s flat. Then he completely misted up the whole stage so the stage got really atmospheric and filled with mist. The light from the screen would infect the mist. There were no cities. There wasn’t a lot of stuff in the distance or detail in the distance. What it did do is it lit up the atmosphere in a really nice way.

So then we went and mapped Pink Joi onto the CG version of her. We created all this with CG projection. CG back-face of Joi, and interactive stuff inside her. Then more rain to add on top of the rain that’s in the scene. Then we added all the city in the background. Then we added in brutalistic buildings, and the spinners. Then we completed the atmospheric overlap from the holographic Joi, which is now sitting on top of the mist that was affected by the big video wall.