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Rachael the replicant

Sci-fi sequel "Blade Runner 2049" uses cutting-edge visual effects to recreate the character of Rachael, played by Sean Young, exactly as she was in the 1982 film. Here's how they did it.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Alcon Entertainment/Warner Bros/Columbia Pictures
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A digital model

Visual effects company MPC created a digital model head, identical to that of the young Rachael.

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On the set of "Blade Runner"

Sean Young in the original film. Young returned for the sequel to be photographed and to provide reference on set while Rachael's scene was filmed.

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Rachael meets co-star

The digital head was then added to real footage involving a stand-in on set with co-star Harrison Ford.

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A ghostly view

In this shot, the digital model of Rachael's head lends a ghostly quality.

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Scene with a stand-in

Stand-in Loren Peta took the place of original actor Sean Young for the sequel's pivotal scene.

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Details matter

The digital head built by MPC had to be perfect down to the finest detail.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Alcon Entertainment/Warner Bros/Columbia Pictures
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Skin tone and fly-away hair

Skin texture, makeup and even fly-away hairs were added to make the model look real.

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Facial nuances

We're trained to subconsciously recognize the subtlest nuances in faces, so we can be thrown by even the tiniest thing that doesn't look quite right -- an effect known as "the uncanny valley."

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Profile shot

The digital effects team went into incredible detail, including complex soft tissue simulations on the face and eyes.

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Rick and Rachael in the original

Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard with Sean Young as Rachael in Ridley Scott's 1982 film. Young acknowledged it's "nerve-wracking" to know that she could be recreated without her involvement, but she was glad to be involved in "2049."

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Stand-in with co-stars

Stand-in Loren Peta acts opposite Harrison Ford and Jared Leto.

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Dots on the face for mapping

Dots on Peta's face were used to track the movements of her head, which could then be mapped with the digital version.

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Speaking parts

Both Peta and Young were filmed saying Rachael's lines with a special head-tracking camera rig.

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Scene with skull

The digital model begins with a skull as a base, before building outward with tissue, skin and hair.

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Without hair

The MPC team also made small tweaks below the neck to "Rachael-ify" the performance.

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With hair

The result is a pivotal moment in the story when we see Rachael as she was in the original film.

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Digital mimickry

The model was animated to mimic Young's performance from the original film, drawing too on the performances from Young and Peta on the sequel's set.

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Texture and lighting

Finally, the model was composited with the plate shot on set, with texture and lighting effects added.

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Digital double

Casting the scene's atmospheric lighting over the digital double completes the effect, making this one of the most polished digital doubles yet.

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