There's a scene in Blade Runner 2049 that takes place in a morgue. K, an android "replicant" played by Ryan Gosling, waits patiently while a member of the Los Angeles Police Department inspects a skeleton. The technician sits at a machine with a dial, twisting it back and forth to move an overhead camera. There are two screens, positioned vertically, that show the bony remains with a light turquoise tinge. Only parts of the image are in focus, however. The rest is fuzzy and indistinct, as if someone smudged the lens and never bothered to wipe it clean.
Before leaving the room, K asks if he can take a closer look. The blade runner -- someone whose task it is to hunt older replicants -- dances over the controls, hunting for a clue. As he zooms in, the screen changes in a circular motion, as if a series of lenses or projector slides are falling into place. Before long, K finds what he's looking for: A serial code, suggesting the skeleton was a replicant built by the now defunct Tyrell Corporation.
Throughout the movie, K visits a laboratory where artificial memories are made; an LAPD facility where replicant code, or DNA, is stored on vast pieces of ticker tape; and a vault, deep inside the headquarters of a private company, that stores the results of replicant detection 'Voight-Kampff' tests. In each scene, technology or machinery is used as a plot device to push the larger narrative forward. Almost all of these screens were crafted, at least in part, by a company called Territory Studios.
The London-based outfit is known for developing on-set graphics. These are screens, or visuals, that the actor can see and, depending on the scene, physically interact with during a shoot. They have the potential to raise an actor's performance while creating interesting shadows and reflections on camera. Each one also gives the director more freedom in the editing room. If you have a screen on set, you can shoot a scene from multiple angles and freely compare them during the edit. The alternative -- tailoring bespoke graphics for specific shots -- is a time-consuming process if the director suddenly decides to change perspective in a scene.