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November 2017

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DEPARTMENT 32 POST XXX 20XX BLADE RUNNER 2049 SOUND DESIGN: FILM COMPOSER THEO GREEN ON HIS ATMOSPHERIC, LAYERED AMBIENCES BY JENNIFER WALDEN s director Denis Villeneuve was shooting Blade Runner 2049 at Origo Film Group's ( soundstages in Budapest, Hungary, award-winning film compos- er Theo Green was there providing sound design support, as well as created hard sound effects for film editor Joe Walker. Green's ambient/indus- trial composing style — i.e., mangling real-world recordings and adding those to textural beds — was a good fit for Blade Runner 2049. His atmo- spheric, layered ambiences are reminiscent of the original Blade Runner. On both soundtracks, sound design is steeped in the music. "The original Blade Runner stayed with me because you weren't sure if you were listening to a score by Vangelis or sound design by Jim Shields and Ben Burtt. There were always off-screen sounds that created this ambient effect. Some of that was composed by Vangelis and some was made by the sound designers, but they just work so well together," says Green. Budapest is an old city and there Green found some well-worn mechanical sounds that helped define the futuristic dystopia of Los Angeles in Blade Runner 2049. "Denis [Villeneuve] didn't want the production design and the sets to feel totally polished, to feel shiny and new — the exception being Niander Wallace's [Jared Leto] rooms. The general world, K's [Ryan Gosling] world, is dirty and a bit grim. It's rusty and lived- in," notes Green. Green didn't have to venture far for inspiration. In the kitchen of the apartment where he was staying, there was a "gas meter that initially was really annoying because it was constantly making this weird grating sound," says Green. "Then I real- ized that would be a great sound for K's kitchen." Green also found sounds to record around the studio at Origo, like a water-cooler bottle, which came in handy for the spinner crash scene with Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) and Deckard (Harrison Ford). "The spinner vehicle crashes into the water and it's scraping along the bottom and there are these horrible, rending scrapes. Many of the recordings for that were done by me dragging a partially filled water cooler bottle on the gravelly roads and then slowing those recordings down to give the perception that it's a large ship," says Green, who did much of his processing and edit- ing in Avid's Pro Tools 12. The holographic performance of Elvis Presley at Deckard's casino hideout was another scene where Green had a hand in shaping the sound early-on. In order for the Elvis look-a-like (Ben Thompson) to nail his performance, he had to know where the glitch-outs would happen and how they might sound. Green says, "I had to de- sign a range of glitched-out versions of Elvis and play them back on-set and, to some degree, keep an eye on how that was going to work later on in terms of sound." A Stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford

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