When my colleagues Tony Alderson, Frank Isaacs and I were working on some of the effects for Frank Herbert’s DUNE (Sci Fi Channel) we had to visualize what the defensive shields would look like in operation. It wasn’t easy because Herbert doesn’t describe in detail their appearance. Herbert’s Shield is normally invisible but when you make a film you HAVE to show something. I mean, the audience wants a “payoff”, Ya Know? According to Herbert – and I’m quoting from my copy of the book – “A shield will permit entry only to objects moving at slow speeds….”. He described this personal shield as “soft” when there was no or little force applied to it but it became “hard” when sudden force came in contact with it. So we designed the Shield to become visible when it was hit by an opponent. And we did a nice job, if I say so myself.
But that’s all make-believe. What if you actually want to make a wearable shield that would protect the wearer from bumps, crashes, knocks and hits??? Guess what? There’s a company – d3o Lab that has done just that! OK, it’s not some electronic device that lights up when a Crysknife welding Fremen warrior is attacking you. It still is fairly dramatic, however. The company claims the material, called d3ois, is made with “intelligent molecules” which move freely with the wearer but “lock” together if struck.
It’s no surprise that the first recipients of this clever stuff are athletes. Globe has incorporated d3ois in the heels of skateboarding shoes so rad dudes can make Big Air and land in safety. The U.S. and Canadian Olympic ski teams now happily wear d3o-enhanced Spyder racing suits. d3o also designed a beanie and a Contour glove made by Sells.
The next group that should be looking into using d3ois are the military, firefighters, the police. I can see this being used inside the upholstery used in cars. And maybe even in homes – if you have toddlers you have a terror of corners on furnature, don’t you? d3ois may not light up, but athletes report it works quite well for them and I see it will have a successful future.
If you want to see what the DUNE shields that we made look like, that’s the page. Plus, the series gets repeated on the SciFi channel.
A talented and Emmy-winning digital special effects technician by trade, Cecilia has also made her mark over the years as a writer in video editing magazines. Her CV includes HBO’s "From the Earth to the Moon" and SciFi Channel’s "Frank Herbert's Dune" and "Children of Dune". The most recent Visual Effects work was done for an online film: "Eye of the Bennu". This project was notable for being the first film made entirely by people only communicating over the Internet. No one has ever actually met in person. A virtual film made by virtual people. Cecilia is currently making props for a short film project about a violent monk. Hmm.