Continuing the experimental tour at Universal Studios’ back lot, Nuke the Fridge’s own Louis Love and Namtar were invited to Stage 38 to see the “Oblivion” Bubbleship. Concept designer Daniel Simon gave the press a tour of the ship and told them the story of how it went from pen and paper to an actual life size working prop.
To know the machine, you have to know the person behind it first. Daniel Simon’s work has repeatedly been featured in Top Gear, GQ, Playboy, Popular Mechanics and many other magazines. Daniel is a car designer who has worked for Bugatti Automobiles and Volkswagen. In 2007, he published his first book, Cosmic Motors, with groundbreaking visuals of photorealistic fantasy vehicles. For Daniel, the book was instrumental in opening the doors to Hollywood. Simon was hired by director Joseph Kosinski as Vehicle Concept Designer on “Tron: Legacy,” and later was Lead Vehicle Designer on “Captain America: The First Avenger,” and eventually he worked with director Ridley Scott on the “Alien” prequel “Prometheus.”
Director Joseph Kosinski had a vision for his film “Oblivion.” Concept designer Daniel Simon was given the task of bringing some of Kosinski’s ideas to life. Kosinski wanted a uniform look to all vehicles, costumes, living quarters, weapons, drones, etc., which are all items created by the film’s TET. For the Bubbleship, Simon was asked to create a ship that was part Bell 47 helicopter and part dragonfly.
The Bubbleship went through many drafts before it was approved for fabrication. The process took nearly a year to complete. The hard work Simon poured into this project not only paid off for him, but the film gained a new and an integral character in the process.
The film takes place in the year 2077. With its advanced systems, the bubble part of the ship rests on three aluminum action/cantilever legs, two of which function as a step, while all three tuck behind the ship during flight. For practical and safety purposes, the legs of the ship were locked to the ground. The visual and CGI use of the ship are seamless without the audience being able to tell where the real one ends and the computer generated version begins and vice versa. The ship went through many modifications which included the flight seat, which was redesigned three times to accommodate Tom Cruise’s posture and height. Also, the controls were laid out in accordance to flight controls for a helicopter or airplane by Cruise as well, and the front part of the cockpit had to be redesigned to give it a “dashboard” so the guitar playing bobblehead “Bob” could be prominently featured.
The function for the Bubbleship in the film was for atmospheric and space flight. The engines and tail rotor for the visual Bubbleship featured no moving parts. The movement seen in the film was created through the magic of CGI. There is a compartment door in the back of the Bubbleship where Jack (Tom Cruise) has access to his folded Moto Bike. Finally, the process to build Oblivion’s Bubbleship on the set took approximately five hours to accomplish.
Other props that Simon helped to design included the film’s drones and hand guns.
“Oblivion” will arrive on Blu-ray/DVD/UltraViolet on August 6th. The film stars Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Melissa Leo, Zoe Bell, Abigail Lowe, Isabelle Lowe and David Madison. Karl Gajdusek and Michael Arndt (as Michael deBruyn) wrote the screenplay, which is based on the original graphic novel story by Joseph Kosinski. Joseph Kosinski directs.
Click on our video interview below.