Dystopian Brief – Movie Research

Now that I’m done and dusted with the robot brief, it’s time to move onto Tony’s next brief, titled Dystopia Utopia. The process is much the same as the robot brief except this time around I’ll have to look into dystopian movies and artists and then produce 20 thumbnails/design ideas for service vehicles.

There will then be a critique and a developed version of the best design, finally a 3D model of the developed piece to finish off the brief.


Syd Mead & Blade Runner

So I love it when you blog something personal and then it magically comes in useful. The first artist/movie recommended for us to look at for this project, Syd Mead & Blade Runner. I refer to you a previous post about me gushing over his amazing work. Box ticked, one artist and movie down. As even more proof of fandom, here’s a few postcards of his artwork I own.


My Visual Inspirations

I’ll continue with a few movies first before I move onto artists. After all I just spent the afternoon with Kelly going through our entire movie library picking out every bit of dystopia we own. It’s a fairly comprehensive list.

Jean Giraud & Fifth Element

Yes, yes, I know. I’m cheating again using blog content I already have. I also covered this artist/movie combination in my visual inspirations post as well, but why write anything twice if I don’t have to? Here are a few stills of the concept art from Fifth Element, along with a few vehicle designs of his from his comic book work. On reflection I wouldn’t say Fifth Element is 100% dystopian, but vehicle design and Girauds dominant use of colour definitely made the movie memorable.

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Okay now I have to actually do some new work….or do I?

Tron & Tron Legacy

So yeah, that other movie Syd and Jean worked on. I had to think for a moment if this sat in a dystopian genre or not. While its all set in a computer system, the realm itself (in both movies) is led by some form of dictator in control of an almost fascist police force and regime, even more so in Legacy where they commit digital genocide. So yeah I think it counts. Both movies are fairly well known for vehicle design and Legacy just updated the old vehicles with a modern twist, they were all VERY much Syds work with Jean mostly working on character design.

As weird as some of the vehicles in these movies are, some only serving to forward the plot. The recognizers are essentially military/police cruisers for lack of a better term, along with the solar sailer being a very elaborate cargo transport. I adore all the designs from these movies, they’re so unique and eye catching.

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Okay so theres a theme in my movies, I wonder who was on the art team….Syd Mead. This is the last one I swear, they were just THAT influential! Everything for this movie outside of a few background small colony vehicles were all military vehicles. So all the styling is heavily armoured, practical and GREY, however it fits the grim universe perfectly. The movie returns to LV-426 which was already shown to a dark and hostile place. Perfect mid 80s dark and dirty dystopia, much like Blade Runner. Here is a selection of movie stills and concept art.

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Mad Max (Franchise)

I’ll get away from Syd finally and move onto something less sci-fi, the dusty Australian outback that is Mad Max. A very different dystopia where resources are low and what is left of the population fight over scrap, food and fuel. The majority of car designs from the franchise are….crazy, oddball creations born out what was available to salvage. This has given the franchise an immense amount of individuality when it comes to vehicle design, the best part being nearly all of them are working vehicles. Dystopian grime really comes into play here, with everything being weathered by time, weather and the outback. A perfect opportunity to break out substance painter if this is the route I end up going!

Considering all the vehicles are cobbled together monstrosities, most of them had a set role. This may have been transport, scout vehicles, fast assault vehicles etc. Lesson here, always design for a purpose no matter how crazy the design might seem.

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The rest of my movie collection

Here is a collection of stills from other movies that didn’t make it into my chosen five to talk about. I didn’t want to waste them after finding them as any reference will be useful going forward.

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Included above is:

  • Death Race
  • Demolition Man
  • Dredd (2012)
  • Elysium
  • Equilibrium
  • Firefly/Serenity
  • Idiocracy
  • Judge Dredd
  • Hunger Games: Mockingjay
  • Running Man
  • Terminator: Salvation

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