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is a project I have been slowly working on over the last few years with the goal of ultimately replacing many of the "outdated" special effects shots in David Lynch's 1984 version of Dune.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

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Spice Mining Inspection To Start Immediately"

(Click image for larger view)
Here is the full version of the first part of the Spice Mining Inspection sequence. (Click link for video)
This sequence is interrupted midway through by a sequence featuring Dr Yueh inspecting enemy bodies. I have started working on the 2nd part of the sequence featuring the Spice Harvester and the worm attack but it is a ways off.
There are several shots in the scene that are not done yet, since they require frame by frame rotoscoping to remove the background and I am still working on it.
NONE of the shots are finals as My computer is 7 years old and struggling to generate the complex effects I am trying to accomplish at any reasonable speed.
I am hoping to improve each shot as this project progresses.
Currently the new effects are cut in to match the original soundtrack. This is ideally not how I would like the scene to run so I will have to spend time creating a new soundtrack/effects to match the new effects.
I am really keen to get your constructive feedback so I can (in the long run) improve these shots.
Yes, I know My rotoscoping could be MUCH better! LOL
This youtube version has been heavily compressed so the quality is not the best.

Monday, December 21, 2009

"We're wasting time Sire"

(Click images to enlarge)
This shot is a bit harder to do as the camera pans from right to left with a subtle change in elevation as well, so I am trying to match move this by hand as best I can. It has also been a rotoscoping nightmare but I am almost done! Then all that remains to do is render out the far background and the thopter in separate layers and composite it all together! Then I think I am almost ready to release about 80% of the 1st half of the sequence, just in time for Christmas.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Judge of the change... and Imperial Ecologist...


Well, here is a little taste of what I am currently working on... rotoscoping out the original background from behind Dr Kynes (Max Von Sydow), and replacing it with My new ornithopter model and the landing pad (based on a mix of the original concept art and the final production model of the Arakeen palace and grounds).
In the original shot, the ornithopter is housed at the base of a shaft deep inside the palace, but I really wanted to open it up so it didn't feel like a small soundstage set.
Since the new shot features outdoor lighting, I have had to lighten the shot a bit and give it more of a daylight tint.
This is currently a concept composite to see how the shot will look when assembled.
There are 3 primary layers:
1: The original shot of Dr Kynes (Rotoscoped, lightened and color corrected)
2: The ornithopter and landing pad (Have to turn of those front lights on the thopter though and the thopter is smaller because it is further back)
3: The palace wall and shield effect with the mountainous shield wall cliffs in the distance (Distorted by the shield effect).
Luckily there is no sky visible in this shot, so there is no need to worry about the color of it for now! LOL
Would love to get your constructive feedback on this shot, so comment away!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Well, as you may have noticed, the poll "What scene in the movie would you most like to see "redone"?" has closed and the results are in!

32%: Final battle vs Sardaukar
25%: Atreides frigates dock with guild heighliner above Caladan
14%: Folding Space
14%: Emperor's Arrival / Landsraad above Arrakis
10%: Worm chase + Paul falling from cliff
  3%: Piter's arrival by tram on Geidi Prime
  0%: Harkonnen ornithopter flight & crash

I find the results interesting, simply because I would have had a completely different order! Though I do agree with the top two results.. but surely that horrible greenscreen shot of Paul "Falling" down the cliff would be higher up the list! LOL
Sadly, I am nowhere near being able to tackle the final the final battle - would have to spend a lot of time making new assests (Fremen, Sardaukar etc) in order for that to happen.
However, on a more positive note, I have already spent some time working on a new animation for the Atreides ships docking with the Guild ship and I think that will be the next sequence I tackle once I get the Duke's spice harvesting inspection (Version 1) completed.

Happy holidays all and thanks for reading!
Hopefully the job market will pick up in the new year and I will at last be able to find work!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Update: 2nd Stage Navigator

(Click image for larger version)

I completely resculpted the 2nd Stage Navigator I had been working on.
I think it's starting to get there but I have to fix a few things like the mouth, tentacle thingies and teeth.
Have to learn how to texture him and such like now - that is the real key to selling a character like this.

Friday, November 27, 2009

"They defend the spice sands... as to their relationship with the spice... who knows?"

Original shot.

Enhanced shot (v1.0)
(click on images to enlarge)

Spent the last few days rotoscoping several hundred frames to remove the thopter cockpit window from behind Dr Kynes (Max Von Sydow) so I could place the new desert dunes render in place. I also took the opportunity to lighten the really dark footage so it looks like they are out flying during the day - I really do not like the orange filtered sky used in all the original out-door effects shots.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sand, Sand Everywhere...

Sand dunes are a real pain in the ass to model convincingly... they are very distinctive looking, and quite tricky to texture... I initially just put a few bumps and dips into a subdivided plain and while it was fine for just getting an idea of scale and motion, they really doesn't look like "real" sand dunes...

So I have tried a different approach - this time using a greyscale height map that I drew using an aerial photo of sand dune formations in the Namib Desert...

As you can see it looks a bit more convincing (The dunes in the back are still the original "bumps") ... still not quite there and I suspect I am going to have to hand model some "Hero" dunes for close up work as these dunes do not hold up under close scrutiny.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Plans within plans...

(click to enlarge images)

For those of you who are interested, and since My own model is a modified "shorter" version (See earlier posts), I am uploading the plans for the Harkonnen "Hammer" ship, in case someone is interested in making the full version of it.
These are scans from the reduced version of the blueprints kindly loaned to Me by Ron Miller, who has been very helpful to Me throughout this project.
However, I think there are some minor changes between the plans and the actual miniatures that were built, so you may want to check other references as well.
I am always looking for more references - especially photos of the filming models and scans of other blueprints, so please contact Me if you happen to have any!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

2nd Stage Navigator

Since zbrush is a program I have been needing to learn, I decided to have a crack at sculpting the 2nd Stage Navigator head... still learning though... have to try and create a texture for it. SO here is a look at what I've come up with so far... added the eye and "spice gas" very quickly in photoshop just to give an idea of how it will look...

Monday, November 2, 2009

2nd Stage Guild Navigator

Here's something on My wish list... head replacements for the 2nd stage guild navigators.
Although originally conceived as an animatronic head (Image Here), ultimately it appears there was not enough time or money to complete development and in the final movie, the 2nd stage guild navigators wear some rather silly looking "gimp" masks.

(2nd Stage Gimp Navigator with translator microphone)

With advances in technology, most notably Star Wars Episode 3, where Christopher Lee's head was successfully composited over the stunt double's head for much of the climactic duel at the start of the film, I feel it would be possible to replace the heads with the originally designed ones (Which bridge the evolution between the human 1st Stage Navigators seen prominently in the movie, and the giant mutated 3rd Stage Guild Navigators). Today I had some time on My hands, so I did a ROUGH composite in photoshop to see how the final product might look (Only better!).

(Concept of 2nd Stage Guild Navigator)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Harkonnen Frigate (Special Edition Version)


(Click images for larger version)
So I managed to get some more time this weekend to go in and really try and finidh up My special edition version of the Harkonnen Frigate.
It took quite a bit of work to get the main hull into the shape I wanted, since it was not designed to be so short and getting all the shapes to blend together was a challenge.
I think over all that it has been fairly successful - though I have had to change many details, but will have to wait to see how it looks rendered.
There are still plenty of small details I need to add to it but wanted to show you how it is coming together.
You can see the new orithopter launcher doors on the underside of the main "wings"... originally these were along the side of the hull - but remained mostly unseen and definitely unused in the final movie.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Harkonnen Frigate ("Hammer Ship")

(Click on images for larger view)

I finally decided to get back to working on the Harkonnen frigate over the weekend. I had started it some time ago, but really only had the basic shapes done.
Now with the blueprints I have really been able to get into it!
I start by tracing the blueprints in Adobe Illustrator, then import that into Lightwave, where I can use it to construct the model more easily. So far I have redone the main body... next it's on to redoing the "wings".
I am going to point out that since this is the special edition, the model is also going to be for the special edition - which means it is NOT going to have the long tail section and IS going to be roughly similar in configuration to the Atreides and Emperor's frigates... My logic behind this change is that the Guild uses a standardized docking system in their Heighliners - therefore all ships are roughly the same shape (given some latitude for local deisgn preferences).
The second major change is going to be moving the unseen and unused "Thopter Launch Bays" from the tail of the frigate, to the underside of the "wings"... I think it will fit three thopters per side... but will have to wait until I get both ships to scale.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Special Edition Scenes List

Recently went through the theatrical cut of DUNE and made a list of all the scenes I'd like to change/update/improve (Whether I will is another matter entirely!), and thought I would post it for you all to check out!
Would love to hear your comments on which scenes I've listed you'd really like redone, which ones you think are fine as is, and maybe some I've missed!

(Added a new poll on the right hand side too, so cast your vote!)

DUNE (Theatrical Cut) Shot Fix List.

1: Universal Logo:
Use New One

2: Opening Title Credits:
Redo text in 3D before Irulan comes on.

3: Irulan Introduction:
Color correction and morph her face to make seamless speech without fade ins/outs.

4: DUNE Title and credits:
Redo all text in 3D dune font.

5: Secret Report within the guild scene:
Redo entirely all the way up to the first shot of the guild exiting the ship… same audio/voice though.

6: 3rd Stage Guild Navigator meets the Emperor:
Fix Navigator with “blue eyes” and orange spice gas in his tank. Replace crappy 2nd stage navigator costume masks with CG heads based on original concept sculpture.

7: Caladan Establishing Scene:
Take that wonderful footage of the waves crashing on the rocks but instead of cross-fading to crappy model waves, keep shot going, panning and tilting from waves up the cliff to the castle at the top.

8: Paul’s Filmbook:
Make the screen larger and also recreate the same shots but with the new 3D planets and animation of Carryall and Harvesters.

9: Shield Fight:
Fix that weird shot of Paul that actually seems to be his stunt double.

10: Wierding Module (ALL SHOTS!):
Create new “sonic blast” effect.

11: Robot Fight:
Possibly add some more blades to the robot and make the fight seem more deadly?

12: The Duke & Paul:
Fix bluescreen shot of The Duke and Paul looking out to sea to match with opening Caladan shot and color correct.

13: Burning Hand Shot:
Is it possible to make this more realistic and match the Reverand Mother’s description?

14: The Duke in his study:
“Fix” the “lightning window” – I feel something could be done here.

15: Geidi Prime Establishing Scene:
New effects shot following tram past a line of the cherub faced oil burners as it heads towards Harko city. Fix bluescreen shots of Piter in tram to match new effects.

16: Atreides Departure From Caladan:
New FX shot based on concept art of Caladan “Crystal Palace” airfield. Shot starts as effect but ends with the footage of Paul, Leto & Jessica walking up the steps to their frigate and turning to face their troops. Possible reverse shot of what they see? (Lush greenness, water, their loyal troops)

17: Frigate Takeoff:
New FX shot of frigate taking off and entering space… Currently there is that weird “window” shot. Possibly continue from previous shot once the Atreides are onboard.

18: Frigates Dock With Heighliner:
New FX shots recreate old model shots but in a more spectacular fashion and can do a continuous shot all the way into the Heighliner and docking – then intercut with actors as per original.

19: Folding Space:
Redo all of this sequence. Same thing but different! LOL. Have the 3rd Stage Navigator creating the vision of the planets with his mind rather than the beam out of the mouth. Keep blue rings and oddness of whole sequence. Use the new transition of Heighliner at Caladan to Heighliner at Arrakis FX instead of that annoying cross-fade of Heighliner model.

20: New Atreides ship arrival on Dune and flying into Arrakeen shots.

21: DUNE (All Shots!):
Heatwaves on FX/model/studio shots where appropriate to match Paul, Leto and Jessica disembarking on Arrakis shot. Need to show how hot this planet is! REMOVE orange filter from ALL shots. Sky needs to read as sky!!!

22: Spice Mining Inspection:
Replace all model and thopter FX shots. Replace bluescreen elements in interior cockpit shots with new FX. Keep worm swallowing Spice Harvester shot but match colors.

23: Harkonnen Surprise Attack:
All new FX sequence. Harkonnen Thopters launch from Harkonnen “Hammer” ships and attack Arrakeen palace wall and airfield. “Hammer” ships land amongst wreckage and disgorge troops who enter palace through breach in the wall from the airfield. Use “Masssive” or similar to create Sardaukar and Atreides armies clashing. Refilm some more vicious hand to hand combat scenes that look more like soldiers fighting rather than stunt men bouncing on trampolines. Fix ground moving under stunt men.

24: Duncan Idaho:
Fix “shot” FX of Sardaukar shooting Atreides troopers in hall then Duncan shooting him. Create model of actor Richard Jordan for head replacement of stunt man (Or use entirely synthetic actor) to extend Duncan’s fight by a couple of shots and make his death more heroic. One of the most important characters in the whole series gets short changed in the original!

25: Harkonnen Thopter:
Redo all external Harkonnen thopter shots with new FX. Replace all interior bluescreen elements to match new FX. Possibly keep original model crashing in sand shots.

26: Worm Chase:
Fix blue screen shots and get rid of the awful “green night” sky color (IN ALL NIGHT SHOTS). Add in a wide shot showing ACTUAL relationship of worm to Paul and Jessica as they are running. FIX paul falling down cliff shot… possibly just remove awful bluescreen shot of Paul.

27: Hall of Holy Warriors:
Use CG characters to bring the crowd to life a bit more or something… especially the Sayyadinas along the side of the shot. 3D the environment or something.

28: Riding The Sandworm:
Fix ALL bluescreen shots here and remove awful orange filter.

29: Eyes Of The Ibad:
Make sure everyone who is supposed to have blue eyes has them in every shot!

30: Emperor’s Arrival/Landsraad Blockade:
All new FX shots showing size of Blockade, Sardaukar landing ships in formation and the Emperor’s ship heading down to Arrakis.

31: Fremen Army:
All new “Massive/Crowd Simulation” shots of Fremen army.

32: Baron’s Arrival in Arrakeen.
New FX shot of the Baron’s frigate flying towards Arrakeen while he listens to the news of Raban’s arrest.

33: Paul’s Binoculars:
New FX shots of Arrakeen, the Emperor’s Steel Tent and the relationship to the city, the palace and the shield wall to match all previous new FX shots.

34: Worm Riders:
Fix bluescreen shots of Fremen running along worm’s back.

35: Sandstorm:
New shots of gathering storm that actually look like a sandstorm! Shots of Steel Tent and Airfield being effected by storm – REALLY need to play up this effect and how it reduces visibility so the aircraft can’t take off.

36: Final Battle:
Needs a lot of work. New Massive FX of clashing armies that make the Sardaukar look like a trained fighting force rather than a bunch of extras. New “shot” FX for all weapons. Blue eyes on all Fremen. Add some hand to hand combat shots? Fix all worm/sand/Sardaukar interactions!

37: Do something with that rather odd “Rain on Arrakis” ending!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What I'm Aiming For

(Click on images to enlarge!)

Today I thought I'd post a couple of screenshots... the first is the raw render, the second is after I've processed it in photoshop - it's more the look I am going for - though there are of little details that need to be added... in particular sand interaction... especially between the wheels of the harvester and the sand and the 'thopter's landing gear and the sand. All want to sort of have the sand blow around in the downdraft from the 'thopter's wings.

Friday, October 16, 2009

"It is by will alone I set my mind in motion..."

(Click on images to see larger version)

The introduction to Giedi Prime is another example of a scene where I think it could work just a bit better composition wise... I love the design of everything - very gothic/industrial, but the shots as edited in the theatrical edition are somewhat confusing and it really is incredibly dark... So I've built a model of the Harkonnen tram and have started work on the enormous "oil burners" - the giant cherub faces that spew black smoke, though I only have a few reference photos of them. Going to have to make up some of the detail there. The script describes this part of the surface of the planet as an ocean of black oil, so I think My general intention is just to set the scene a little better and give the audience a real sense of what this place is like. Eventually, I hope to make a lo-res Piter De Vries model to go in the tram, so you can see him in there.
Also need to model Harko City and possibly the landing pad from where Piter is coming (I imagine that the landing pads are far away across the ocean of oil to prevent the escape of an of the slave labor).

Friday, October 9, 2009

DVD Packaging

Here's something amusing... found this old paper mock up I made for a 4-disc DUNE special edition DVD case.
It's closely based on the 4-disc Lord Of The Rings DVD packaging which I liked at the time.
Disc 1 was to contain the Special Edition.
Disc 2 would have the theatrical cut and possibly the extended edition - though I loathe that version.
Disc 3 would have behind the scenes documentaries and so forth
Disc 4 would contain updated versions of Cryo's DUNE and Westwood's DUNE 2 (Dune 2000)
and there was to be a booklet with "pop-up" elements!

It's all a bit out of date now, so have started revamping the design for Blu-Ray!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Duke's Inspection

(Click images to enlarge. Click Thread Title For youTube Video.)
With a little bit of help in the rendering department, I've finally finished the first version of this shot as Duke Leto pilots his ornithopter (followed by escort) over the city of Arrakeen and past the spice refinery before heading out over the shield wall.
There's still many things I'd like to do to this shot so hopefully it will continue to improve over time.
Any suggestions would be welcome!

Friday, September 25, 2009


Ugh! Spent the last week dealing with a REALLY nasty virus - fromt the V32.Virut family - super nasty one that infects all .exe, .scr, .html & .htm files on your machine... and then blocks access to anti-virus websites and proceeds to download lots of other malware and viruses. Had over 1200 infections. You REALLY don't want this to get on your machine.
Had to reformat My C: drive.
There is a very useful tool for removing it over at AVG antivirus.

More importantly all My DUNE SPECIAL EDITION FILES are safe... have to make another backup of them ASAP.
Have to keep a close eye on My computer over the next few days and make sure it doesn't come back...
Hope to start back into it asap!

Sunday, September 13, 2009


(Click images to see larger versions)
Added more detail to the Carryall model, though its quite difficult as I only have 4 solid reference photos of it and none of them show the top of it clearly or the shape of the wing tips properly, so I've had to "make up" certain details. I still need to detail the Harvester docking areas and add the strange little doohicky that goes on the lower front section. The original model was silver, but owing to the way it was shot and the orange filter that was placed over most of the special effect shots, you can't tell that in the movie.
I've included a render of the carryall landing at the spice refinery as Duke Leto flies past in the ornithopter.

Friday, August 28, 2009

City of Arrakeen

Have finally knuckled down to work on on of the most difficult parts of this project... trying to rebuild the city of Arrakeen - where much of the action in the movie takes place. While the Arrakeen palace and nearby landing field were built as series of minatures/biggatures, and partial sets, the city itself is represented only by a couple of matte paintings.

Click image for larger version

Name: ArakeenLayout.jpg
Views: 0
Size: 203.5 KB
ID: 30538
My revised version of the Duke's 'thopter flight requires a shot following the Duke as he flies over the city past the spice refinery and up over the shield wall. (Originally it was simply two shots in the movie that feature an almost unrecognizable 'thopter sort of flying straight up - not very interesting.)
So, in order to accomplish that I have been creating an entire 3D cityscape that can be viewed from any angle.
Click image for larger version

Name: DUNE_Blog_Models_Arrakeen.jpg
Views: 0
Size: 158.5 KB
ID: 30534
I admit that I couldn't be arsed modeling buildings from scratch so I downloaded a pack of 20 tatooine buildings - originally modeled in MAX and converted to Lightwave by someone. However once I opened them up, I discovered they were badly made with incredibly high poly & point counts so I ended up having to remodel every single one of them as a lo-res model - cutting the the poly count by up to 80% in some cases. I also removed the distinctive dome shapes replacing them with sort of concave roofs. I also modeled some windtraps and other buildings based on the old DUNE 2 and DUNE 2000 games as a bit of a Easter egg.
Click image for larger version

Name: DUNE_Blog_Models_ArrakeenWIP_01.jpg
Views: 0
Size: 78.3 KB
ID: 30535
I've added in the 20 palm trees by the palace (a show of water wealth) - featured in several photos of the original model but not in evidence in the movie.
Click image for larger version

Name: DUNE_Blog_Models_ArrakeenWIP_02.jpg
Views: 0
Size: 89.5 KB
ID: 30536
Still plenty to do - Have to work on the landing filed some more and the spice silo yards and actually do the detailing on the spice refinery.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The 3rd Stage Guild Navigator

(Click on preview for larger image)
Continuing on yesterday's blue eye theme, another important character that didn't get the blue eye treatment is the 3rd Stage Guild Navigator (or even the 1st and 2nd stage navigators).
I also don't like the fact that the orange spice gas is more of a dirty brown/tan color so I've whipped up a little animation test where I rotoscoped in the gas and the blue eyes to see how it would all look.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who Could Pose As A Freman?

(Click on images for larger version. Top: Enhanced frame. Bottom: Original Theatrical Frame)
The sadistic Piter De Vries as played wonderfully by character Actor Brad Dourif (Alien Resurrection, Lord Of The Rings) acts not only as the Baron Harkonnen's mentat but as a "twisted" mentat, he also acts as an assassin. Consuming spice in large quantities - a privilage of being the Baron's right hand man - his eyes have taken on the blue within blue coloring of a spice addict.
The Atreides worry that with those eyes, Piter would be the perfect assassin - able to pass for one of the native fremen.
However, in the movie - presumably in order to save money on the rotoscoping effect and not confuse the audience as to who the bad guys are - Piter does not have the blue within blue eyes.
I had a quick go in photoshop today at recoloring his eyes to see how he'd look. (Yes, I did muck around with the green wall as well!)

Castle Caladan

(Click previews for larger image)
For the introduction to the planet Caladan in the movie, it starts with a really awesome panning shot of enormous waves crashing against a rugged coastline, before cutting to a really awful model cliff side and totally out of scale waves, before cutting again to show the Castle where the Duke and his family reside.
My vision here, using modern digital compositing techniques, will be to extend the first panning shot, so it continues up the ragged cliffs until the castle is revealed at the top... possibly having the camera close in on the window where paul is sitting, then cutting back tot he interior shot that starts at the window with the rain outside and pans over to see Paul at his desk.
I've included an image of the model, a mock up of what I sort of want it to look lik, a render of the model and a render of the planet Caladan.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Guild Heighliner

(Click image for large view. Click post heading for animation on youtube)
Here is the massive Spacing Guild transport ship. It is so enormous, it dwarfs the huge Atreides Frigates. While most of the model is essential a lightly detailed tube, the mid-section is festooned with mechanical detail. For this I used freely available "greeble" & "nurny" detail models - usually only on two sides of the model to keep the polygon count low while rendering.
The main part of the model that is incomplete are the huge golden "doorways" that open into the interior of the Heighliner. I have various refernce pictures, but none of them show the detail clearly, so I have had to do My best to make it look ok... just have to make some "normal maps" to help create the intricate surface patterns and get some better texturing done.

Film Book

(Click images for larger view)
A simple prop model made in order to facilitate integration of the new planet models that Paul would be looking at.Considering modern technology, the size of the screen seemed too small, so I have enlarged it... however, the four circular "control" knobs while kind of simple looking in 1984 actually now resemble the control wheel of an ipod, with the black central button and a gold "navigation ring".