Monday, February 4, 2013

Syd Mead's design for Blade Runner

Joel Johnston of BoingBoing TV hung out with concept artist Syd Mead to talk about his design work for the 1982 science fiction movie classic Blade Runner.

(Video link) The convincing detail and atmosphere of the film is a mix of director Ridley Scott's noirish vision, Doug Trumbull's visual effects work, and Mead's thoroughness in approaching the concept art, for which he received a "visual futurist" credit. 

Mead, who created most of his gouache renderings for the steel or automotive industry, enjoyed the change of pace. “I wasn’t in the movie business," he says. "I didn’t particularly care. I was just doing a design job.” 

The "spinners" or flying cars were given a low windshield and an open gap in front to let the driver see downward.

“It was very carefully designed to be intensely mechanical,” he says.

Mead says that Blade Runner had about five proposed opening sequences, but limited time and budget ruled out the first four.

1. The first one was 'too Holocaust.' The storyboards showed them shoveling these retired replicants down into this furnace.

2. The second version showed them in the off-world situation where they killed their squad leader, but that was never shot.

3. Deckard is on the train coming across the desert, but they couldn’t afford to dress the train car and build the miniatures.

4. The fourth one showed Deckard on the freeway.

5. The fifth one was the one that appeared in the movie.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've talked with Syd many times about his design process and this is a good example of how he approaches a design, be it a film, game, boat, aircraft interior, etc. There is always a standing logic behind the product; a scenario, which allows for a natural evolution of the design based on strictly practical needs. He's an old school industrial designer. Form and function were interchangeable.