Welcome to the Dune Special Edition Project

This is a project I have been slowly working on over the last few years with the goal of ultimately replacing many of the "outdated" special effects shots in David Lynch's 1984 version of Dune.
The project initially began as an endeavor to build a "proper" ornithopter - one with flapping wings, that neither the movie or the mini-series managed to achieve. However, with the advent of the "fan-edit" the scope of the project has expanded with the goal of updating the effects in all those places in the movie where I feel things could be significantly "improved."
Although I am currently working on this by Myself, it's a large undertaking and if there is anyone interested in helping this project along, feel free to contact Me - We might actually be able to get this project completed with a few more skilled and enthusiastic people!

Sasha Burrow

If you are curious about My professional work, I have been working as a VFX artist (Among other things) at The Asylum for the past 6 years, including visual effects on all 4 Sharknado films (Mainly stuff blowing up!).

DUNE Special Edition: Showreel March 2010

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Atreides Ornithopter

(Click on images for larger view. Click TITLE to link to animation on youtube)
Here's the one that started it all. Modeled in Lightwave 9.5.
I first modeled the 'thopter from the theatrical release using reference photos of a really good model kit that I found on the net.
Once I had made the original one I decided to adapt it into a new "flapping" version.
As I rather like the unique "U" shape of the Harkonnen 'thopter from the movie and because nearly all technologies end up having the same basic geometry (Look at jet airplanes for example... while each manufacturer makes them look different, the same components are all there in roughly the same places), I decided to make the Atreides thopter roughly have that same shape, although in this case its more of a "V" shape.
The wings themselves have been through numerous iterations, but are ultimately a sort of flexible "Spring" in a wing shape, with a section of aircraft wing in the middle for flaps and mounting things like sensors and weapons. The underside of each wing houses a small "foot" that extends when landed to support the tal heavy design.
As in the book, the 'thopter also features small booster rockets - and I am thinking of having some unfold at the back of the central hull for landing purposes.
The landing gear was a pain in the ass to model and rig to work as I have only two or three fuzzy images of what it is supposed to look like.


  1. It looks good and animates well, but watching it in action gives me the distinct feeling that it's just a box flapping around. Some sort of fins or rudders on the bottom back would really give a sense of stability.

  2. It's definitely an artful adaptation of the rather un'thopter like movie version. My only problem with the design is the apparently impossible center of mass vs. center of lift position (very, very nose heavy).
    I recall some illustrations by John Schoenherr who did the original cover illustrations in an old copy of Omni magazine eons ago. They look more like a cross between dragonflies and high performance gliders. I currently can find only one image online (although he did several "Dune" paintings that were published in 1977) at http://ski-ffy.blogspot.com/2009/11/analog-dune-world-part-two.html

    Also consider a shallow sideways figure 8 wingtip motion instead of flapping for hovering (such as the landing on your anim).