how to build a flying saucer from (race to witch mountain) part 1

By popular demand here is the plans and design process for the exterior of the flying saucer from Disney’s “Race to Witch Mountain” I had touched upon this in an earlier post and a lot of you wanted more so here it is. the show called for a flying saucer and I have always wanted to do  a 50’s style ship and it was one big thrill to get the opportunity!!!! My boss David Bomba gave me some quick dimensions that it had to be because a practical was to be built for the set, as well as for the special effects department. the dimensions were so small that the ship was almost a box!!! akk the lines were retained as the ship was passed on to Billy Hunter, the art department CG modeler.. he was the one that got the go ahead to let us stretch out the dimensions to make for a much more sleek and dynamic craft. the ship was broken up into 4 rib like sections and 4 counter suck surface panels,, this would help with breaks in the ship for the carpenters that had to build the full sized ship. a silver chromed like paint scheme was established for the final and what you see in one of the drawings is the burned and battered version of that chrome look. to make our saucer a little different from what has come before, we thought of the ship producing a saturn like energy ring around it’s equator when it would transform into flying mode!!! this idea went through a series of passes and the final VFX were really awesome to see on film.. So with that all said here are the complete plans for the saucer and there will be more to come on the interior and production stills of the actual saucer construction.. enjoy

variations of the energy ring

the burned little ship

plan views #1

plan views #2

32 Responses to “how to build a flying saucer from (race to witch mountain) part 1”

  1. 1 deg
    September 25, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Oh yeah, ol’ school, updated Johnny-style. 🙂

  2. 2 Razorgeist
    September 25, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    A funny way the job meeting should have gone.

    Director: So do you think you’re up to the task of designing a flying saucer for this movie?

    John: Umm you know I designed one of the Enterprise’s right?

  3. 6 evil_genius_180
    September 25, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    That’s awesome, dude. I love how it’s got that classic saucer look but still has that John Eaves look that sets apart from the work of others. I particularly like the landing legs and the energy ring is a nice touch. I never wanted to see the movie, it didn’t look good to me, but I love that ship. 😀

    • 7 johneaves
      September 26, 2010 at 8:29 am

      hey there evil G Thanks and this was a fun one to work on for sure, I love and still love the band ELO and I used there jukebox ring logo as an homage in the look and feel of this ship,, below is a link.

      • 8 evil_genius_180
        September 26, 2010 at 9:29 am

        That’s really cool. I can see how you saw that logo and saw a UFO. 😀

      • 9 johneaves
        September 26, 2010 at 12:42 pm

        This link is to the LP cover I remember as a kid!!!! I was mesmerized by the art and bought the album based on the art alone and then found out by playing the music that I was to become a huge ELO fan!!!

  4. 10 JoeRalat
    September 26, 2010 at 2:54 am

    Cool, Old Scifi Updated! When you do something like this, do you start with the top/side views and then to a 3D View or is it the other way around?

    Thanks again!

    • 11 johneaves
      September 26, 2010 at 8:24 am

      Hi Joe, good to hear from you!!!! I usually start with a high 3/4 view to work out the design and then go into some rough views as I’m drawing to make sure things are working out in all the views.

      • 12 JoeRalat
        September 28, 2010 at 6:44 am

        Thanks good to be back,work keeps me so busy. Its funny, I was watching the Generations dvd and seen you in the “A Tribute to Matt Jefferies”. I have to say one of the best extras on the dvds.

        I find 3/4 views so hard to sketch, maybe its because I took architecture classes and I had to do so many side and top views. Thanks again for the the sketches and info.

      • 13 johneaves
        September 28, 2010 at 7:23 am

        thats so funny because I am so the opposite!!! I can’t make plans without the 3/4 first, HAAA!I never have seen the Jefferies tribute,, I have to make those behind the scene’s extras often and I love doing it but I hate to watch them,, I’m a robotic mutant on film so I just enjoy the time and then walk away, HAAA!

  5. 14 Richard Knapp
    September 26, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Hey John:
    Love the energy ring design. Plan view 2 gives off a little “Day the Earth Stood Still” vibe with the walkways.

    Beautiful work – thanks for posting.


    • 15 johneaves
      September 26, 2010 at 11:21 am

      yes it does have a flashback to DTESS, that was an early idea where those arms would extend and the energy ring would form in the gaps,, as time went on the arm extensions turned from a physical element to an energy element.

  6. September 26, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Thank you so very much you truly are the best for this.

  7. 19 the bluesman
    September 26, 2010 at 4:31 pm


    Flying saucer a staple of the sci fi biz. We’ll probably see more. My daughter loved the film, BTW, but she was as impressed when I told her I knew a guy that designed soem of teh stuff in it.

    Good to see the posts again, now if you’ll excuse me I have to go check out the pin up shots!

  8. 22 Matt Boardman
    September 26, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    It’s beautiful! Love the classic feel! Gotta agree with the others as there is some definite Eaves flavor in there! It’s like PB an J – meant to go together! Oh yeah! 😀

    I’m going to have to check this one out as I never did see Race to Witch Mountain. Loved the original Escape to Witch Mountain (1975 version). Classic Disney live action movie! Always wished I had those powers! 😀

  9. 24 Matt Wright
    September 26, 2010 at 10:08 pm


  10. September 27, 2010 at 12:51 am

    I saw this film recently with the kids, I perfer the oringal but hay I grew up with that. LOL
    the remake is still enjoyable though. Do you know if they have plans to remake the sequal as well?

    Old school Saucers you can’t go wrong with that!!

    My Dad also got the ELO ablem with the logo as a station/ ship. I use to stare at that for hours as a Kid. LOL

    • 27 johneaves
      September 27, 2010 at 11:43 am

      It’s an awesome piece of art to go along with an awesome album!!! I don’t remember the original that well only the young girl who I had a mad crush on, HAAA!

  11. September 27, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    I only hope if and when there will be a sequel to Race is that we get to see the UFO in daylight that the previous 2 films had, now that would be awesome.

  12. October 22, 2010 at 9:15 am

    I have another question was there any concept drawings of the Alien Pursuit craft that was chasing the kids. There was never any clear shots of the pursuit craft outside of just lights and a very vague shape.

  13. May 24, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Sits patiently in the corner waiting for part 2, no hurry John but these cob webs are getting rather heavy on me lol.

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September 2010

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