“‘Blade Runner’ was in our DNA,” reveals sound mixer Doug Hemphill about his work on “Blade Runner 2049.” Hemphill and his colleague Ron Bartlett previously collaborated with Ridley Scott on the 2007 final-cut version of the 1982 sci-fi classic, re-mixing the film with all the new bells and whistles available to them. When they lent their talents to Denis Villeneuve‘s 2017 followup they reaped an Oscar nomination for Best Sound Mixing. Watch our exclusive video interview with Hemphill and Bartlett above.
Their experience working on the original years after its release helped inform their work on the sequel. “It was great hearing [Scott’s] ideas,” Bartlett explains, “taking those thematic elements and moving it into this one.” This was especially true when it came to Vangelis‘s iconic score, which “2049” composers Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch paid homage to with their new orchestrations. “The music was a huge deal” when it came to giving “a nod to the original.”
In both films they were tasked with imagining the sounds of a future when overpopulation, urbanization and new technology create a cacophony of noise. It’s a process that Hemphill describes as “orchestrated chaos. Every little piece is chosen to create Denis’s world of a polyglot of languages and sounds and whatnot.”
Mixing the film was a “very specific” process, Bartlett explains about deciding “how [the sounds] overlapped, where they moved in the space.” The goal was to create a future Los Angeles that was “very chaotic, very oppressive, and just not a very fun place to be.”
Hemphill previously won an Oscar for his work on “The Last of the Mohicans” (1992) and competed for “Dick Tracy” (1990), “Geronimo: An American Legend” (1993), “Air Force One” (1997), “The Insider” (1999), “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” (2003), “Walk the Line” (2005) and “Life of Pi” (2012), the last of which also brought Bartlett a nom. They compete for “Blade Runner 2049” alongside Mac Ruth. Can they snag an Oscar in a highly competitive Best Sound Mixing category?
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