256 x ARRI 300w Fresnels used to light Wallace's room


Gaffer Bill O'Leary talks about the lighting on the set of BLADE RUNNER 2049

How would you describe the overall look of the film?

I would say that the look is quite naturalistic in the sense that the sources are motivated.* It took some imagination on DP Roger Deakins’(CBE,ASC,BSC) part to take a leap into the future and decide what some of the sources would be. Concept art** and the script also provided a lot of the references.

How long was your prep time?

I had nine weeks of prep time for a shooting schedule of around 90 days.

The interior scenes look very soft, warm and atmospheric- almost sepia-toned. How was this look achieved?

Roger achieved most of the look in-camera. For the lighting, we used soft sources and lots of gels on the lampheads to create the different colour atmospheres. We went through almost 1400 rolls of gel by the time we had finished shooting!

The library stage was lit entirely with SKYPANELS. Please describe this set up.

This was a large set with a coffered ceiling containing milk glass panels. We had a construction box in each separate opening to act as a snoot and hung an ARRI S60-C in each box. There were one hundred SKYPANELS in total. This allowed us to achieve an effect of each row turning on as the characters crossed the set I also found the SKYPANELS easy to integrate into a more standard tungsten setup.

How did you construct the moveable ring of tungsten lights used to simulate the sun and its shadows in Niander Wallace's room.

We used 256 ARRI 300 watt Fresnels in two concentric circles. The doors were removed and each lamphead was literally touching the next. When a slow chase was programmed, it appeared as a soft source of about eight lamps circling the subject. This required quite the dimmer installation.

You had a huge lighting package, how did you find controlling and programming the numerous dimmers?

Dimming control was not at all difficult as we had a top-notch rigging crew and top-notch programmers.

Do you have a favourite lighting set-up?

Without a doubt, my favourite lighting set-up was the Replicant Hallway. This was also the most challenging. Just blending three moving lights, the cutting necessary to stop overlap and keep the walls clean was a brain twister. The lamps were moved by hand along curtain tracks from a purpose-built catwalk construction. The rigging and the execution of the lighting effect itself left no room for error.

BLADE RUNNER 2049 was a big production. How many stages did you cover at the same time?

We often had up to six stages working at Origo Studios and three at Korda Studios in various stages of rigging, shooting and de-rigging.

How big was your lighting team including both rigging and shooting crew?

We had a crew of around 20 in total. They were without doubt the best crew I’ve worked with -apart from my New York crew who I’ve been with for decades.


The production was serviced by ARRI Rental. How did you experience the collaboration?

I needed special support every other week, it seemed, and ARRI Rental dug up everything we asked for every time-and on time. My thanks to everyone at ARRI Rental Munich and ARRI Rental Budapest. Well done!


*"Motivated Lighting" is a lighting style in which the light sources imitate existing sources, such as lamps or windows.

**“Concept art” is the illustration of an idea or a concept prior to its execution and serves as a visualization tool. Concept artists create illustrations of characters, landscapes, events, sets, costumes, props etc based on information from the script, instructions from the director, the production or other departments and their own research.

Gaffer Bill O'Leary

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