Over 3000 Watercolors Create “Blade Runner” Frame By Frame
In its first incarnation in 1982, Ridley Scott’s science fiction adventure was considered a flop, poorly attended and profusely put down by the critics. However, the past few decades have miraculously altered the judgment until this film became proclaimed by many to be the premier Sci-Fi film of all time, even trumping Scott’s own revolutionary “Alien”.
Now, a new version, created by Swedish artist Anders Ramsell, presents frame by frame scenes rendered in watercolor (aquarelle in French) from an early version of “Blade Runner” the 1982 action blockbuster starring Harrison Ford.
While the scenes may sometimes be difficult to recognize, their continuity conveys the scenes and story line in a very different light, and renews the experience for those who are familiar with the film. Note these frames from Ramsell’s animation which showing the moment when Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) tests Rachel (Sean Young) to see if she’s a replicant. You can compare the two versions for yourself.
In this new version, presented on YouTube, the original scenes, whose spiritual predecessors were the noir films of the 1940’s and 1950’s, which relied on light and shadow to create mood, are replaced by Ramsell with a series of sequential water color images.
The transfixing 13-minute tribute, created by Swedish artist Anders Ramsell, uses 3,285 images drawn using watercolor pencils. The technique which was utilized creates gauzy images that look practically transparent on paper.
Ramsell paired original audio from Blade Runner with his ethereal visuals. The effect is quite impressionistic, and this is enhanced by the low-fi quality of YouTube, which makes the animation seem even hazier. The result is rather hypnotic, and slightly disorienting — Blade Runner’s futuristic and dystopian cityscapes are portrayed by a dreamlike aura in soft colors and softly defined edges.
The YouTube version (see below) has been confirmed by Ramsell to be just the prelude to the full length feature, so the completed project will be a long time coming. This is certainly an example of a projected long term obsession. At this rate the completion could take several years.
In Ramsell’s video (above), he masterfully illustrates Holden’s interrogation of Leon using the Voight-Kampff test (see the original scene below). When Leon shoots Holden, revealing himself as a replicant, we see the gunshot frame by frame, and the screen suddenly turns black.
In summary, the “Aquarelle Edition,” the first part of the movie’s recreation is made up of 3285 aquarelle –watercolor paintings created over the course of 11 months. To complete the whole movie — only 111 minutes or about 30,400 frames to go!