How Dune’s Sandworms Came to Life

WIRED shares how VFX and sound teams brought these sand dwellers to life.

We’re talking about sandworms, of course. As described by Frank Herbert in Dune, sandworms are massive creatures that live in the vast sands of Arrakis and produce “spice”—the most valuable substance in the known universe. For the Fremen, the native people of Arrakis, they also serve as transportation. Fremen hook reins into their scaly exteriors and stand atop them as they slither through the desert. Sandscreen meant Lambert could film an actor on location “riding” a sandworm—essentially a platform on a moveable gimbal covered in beige—and then add the worm below him with CGI. It gave Lambert the ability to create a seamless VFX shot (there were more than 2,000 of those on Dune), and Villeneuve the ability to have a movie that looked as natural as possible. “I’m never a supervisor who is going to say to Denis, ‘Look, if we just make this all blue screen … ’” Lambert says. “I don’t work in that particular way.”

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