New videos look behind the scenes of Lexus’s collaboration with Besson and the Valerian design team to create the Skyjet
Lexus is celebrating its creative partnership with Luc Besson’s up-coming sci-fi epic Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets by giving a sneak peek behind the scenes of its collaboration on creating the movie’s futuristic Skyjet.
The luxury automotive brand has drawn on its design and technology philosophies to inspire elements of the Skyjet, envisioned as a single-seater pursuit craft belonging to the world of Valerian, set 700 years in the future.
A series of features and content newly released on the Lexus International website at www.lexus-int.com take car and movie fans alike deeper into the Skyjet development story and provide a unique insight into how Lexus worked with director Luc Besson and his design team to bring Skyjet to the big screen in spectacular fashion.
The films chronicle Skyjet’s story from the original concept imagined by Besson, through its visualisation by Concept Designer Ben Mauro, to Lexus’s collaboration to produce a machine that befits the world of Valerian.
A new Making of the Skyjet short video is launched today that takes the experience to another level, giving an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Skyjet, on-set with Luc Besson and lead actor Dane DeHaan, who takes the title role of Valerian. The video also features expert commentary from producer Virginie Besson-Silla, Concept Designer Ben Mauro and Lexus Chief Engineer Takeaki Kato.
Takeaki Kato commented: “Technology will constantly advance and it’s impossible to be certain now of things that are far in the distant future. However, at Lexus, we constantly challenge ourselves to imagine them.”
When it came to designing the interior of the Skyjet concept model, the Valerian creative team were inspired by Lexus’s future of vision of Artificial Intelligence and HMI (human machine interface) technologies. These showcase the brand’s ambition for vehicles to become at one with the driver, for example enabling control through simple hand gestures – as seen in then hologram technology featured in Lexus’s LF-LC concept car – or even thought commands from the human mind.
The Skyjet’s final design incorporates an adapted interpretation of the signature “spindle” grille seen on its current range of cars, and a headlight design like that of the new Lexus LC luxury coupe. The film’s narrative is also set to incorporate an imagined energy capsule of the future, inspired by Lexus’s current work on innovative hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Fans will have another exclusive glimpse of the Skyjet as it flies through the world of Valerian in a new Lexus Skyjet ad, launched today, ahead of the global opening of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets on 21 July.
SKYJET – KEY FACTS
Primary Function: SKYJET is a specialised single-seater military-type vehicle built for highly trained agents to on missions across the galaxy. Laurent Bouzige, designer at Lexus’s ED2 European design centre, sees it as a hybrid between a “space bike” and a fighter jet. It makes great use of artificial intelligence (AI) in its operation, notably in the interface the pilot uses to control the aircraft.
Exterior design: the design inspiration for the SKYJET came from an original sketch by Ben Mauro, concept designer for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. His vision for the exterior was especially influenced by the natural world and he took inspiration from animals such as dolphins, whales and sharks to create a very fast and aerodynamic-looking design. He also looked at man-made objects such as fighter jets, luxury single seater submersibles and other aquatic/flying vehicles to make sure the scale and level of detail was suitable for the SKYJET in the context of the imaginary world created in the film.
There is no atmosphere in space, so the SKYJET (and any other spacecraft) doesn’t need wings in order to fly. However, as it is a multi-purpose vehicle used for many different missions/scenarios, it does need to be able to fly in different atmospheres and gravities close found close to the surface of planets, so its design does take conventional aerodynamics into account.
Construction Materials: SKYJET would be made from a military grade advanced metal material capable of withstanding any blasts and attacks from various alien technologies and weapons.
Top Speed: the top speed and altitude limit would be comparable or exceed that of modern-day fighter jets (An F-22 Raptor’s top speed is 2,410 km/h) when flying on planets with an atmosphere. Space flight would be considerably faster, without the friction or drag created by atmosphere.
- SKYJET has functional/retractable glass cockpit, activated by voice or touch control
- Weaponry includes a front-mounted harpoon
- When the SKYJET harpoons another craft it is pursuing, four airbrakes are deployed at the rear (similar to those used by some modern fighter jets) and four smaller reverse thrusters are activated to slow the captured machine down.
- SKYJET has a spindle-shape front grille similar to the one seen of the Lexus LF-SA Concept car that was shown at the 2015 Geneva motor show. Its headlights are inspired by the striking three-projector LED lamp design featured on the new Lexus LC 500 luxury coupe.
Fuel Cell System: SKYJET is powered by a fuel cell system that draws energy from a small, portable cartridge that can be recharged at home. The starting point was the fact that conventional cars, whether they have a combustion engine or pure electric drive like the ones we have today, all require some kind of fuelling or charging station. The vastness of outer space means it would be impractical to find a refuelling station that’s millions of light years away each time you need to fill up your vehicle, so it is simpler to transport SKYJET’s fuel condensed in a small cartridge.
Energy Source: fuel cells work by bringing together hydrogen and oxygen in a chemical reaction to create electricity; this electricity is then stored in a battery and is used to power the vehicle’s motor. The only by-product of this process is water – there are no harmful emissions. Hydrogen exists naturally on Earth, and there are naturally present elements and matter in space, so in the future, instead of hydrogen, vehicles like SKYJET could perhaps use tachyon particles or even anti-matter from black holes, stored in the cartridge used to fuel the vehicle.
Design Timeline: development time was around five months from concept to the final product. The designs were produced at Lexus’s ED2 studio in the South of France and the finished model was constructed in Paris. The process for creating the SKYJET was very similar to that for designing a new car, but as there wasn’t time to build a full-scale clay model, the overall schedule was reduced by around half compared to a typical Lexus new vehicle design project.
To find out more about Lexus’s role in bringing the Skyjet to life, visit https://www.lexus-int.com/
Notes to editors
Learn more about VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS on: