THE OBLIVION BUBBLESHIP. In August 2009 I was lucky to get contacted by director Joe Kosinski—whom I worked with before on Tron: Legacy—for the design of a very unique flying machine. He was preparing a graphic novel and movie pitch to Disney Studios for his original sci-fi story, and the machine for it was described to me as a blend of a dragonfly with a Bell 47 helicopter. The story in the making: Oblivion.
When I did a first series of sketch (see one below) to understand what the director was looking for, I could not know that this machine would be one of the most elaborate projects I would ever be involved with. Between this first drawing and the film premiere April 2013 about three and a half years had passed, of which I spent over 300 days working on this ship.


CONCEPT PHASE BUBBLESHIP Mk.I I understood two things from the design brief. The dragonfly was clearly a metaphor for lightness, agility, elegance, and proportion. The Bell 47—an icon of aviation—shares actually most of those attributes and is in its own right very dragonfly-esque. Most obviously the large glass canopy, resembling the head of an insect and offering unsurpassed visibility for both pilot and passenger. The other main inspiration was the reduced cockpit layout. However, the stance of the Bell both on the ground and mid-air is rather laid-back. This Bubbleship, equipped with deadly weapons, needed a more aggressive character. This turned out to be the biggest challenge on the project: creating a vehicle with a large glass bubble and thin joints to look strong and serious.


DESIGN PHASE BUBBLESHIP Mk.III


DESIGN PHASE BUBBLESHIP Mk.III Coming soon. Please return soon for the updated page.


DESIGN PHASE BUBBLESHIP Mk.III Daniel Simon’s 3D design model, ready for the construction phase. Coming soon. Please return soon for the updated page.


CONSTRUCTION PHASE BUBBLESHIP Mk.III The team of prototyping specialist Wildfactory and designer Daniel Simon with the Bubbleship. Coming soon. Please return soon for the updated page.


DETAIL BUBBLESHIP Mk.III Close-up shot of the seat. I sculpted the seats both digitally and physically to fit lead actor Tom Cruise who was scheduled to spent many hours daily in the ship. Combining perfect ergonomics and unusual seat design was a major challenge. I needed over three iterations to find the best layout. The seating position also heavily influenced the cockpit layout, since the seats can rotate 360 degree and need complex clearance with the cockpit frame and doors.


DETAIL BUBBLESHIP Mk.III Close-up shot of the fuselage.


DETAIL BUBBLESHIP Mk.III Close-up shot of the front landing gear.

VIDEO This interview with Crave online was done during the Blu-ray press day at Universal Studios. The host puts me through quite a pace, and you may learn a few new things about the ship. Enjoy.

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Copyright © 2010-2013 Daniel Simon / Universal Studios