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"Passengers" challenges Sony
to design the gadgets of the future.

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"Passengers," the Hollywood blockbuster for Christmas 2016 from Sony Pictures Entertainment, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, is a science fiction film set in the future aboard a spaceship called the "Avalon." The movie features props designed by Sony Europe's Design Center that reflect the essence of Sony's longstanding philosophy of design. For a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the creative vision informing the futuristic gadgets that have been thrilling movie audiences around the world, we spoke to some of the members of the design team and film production crew.

Work on "Passengers" begins.
Capturing the film's futuristic world.

Sony Europe Design Center Director Phillip Rose recalls how he first heard that he and his team would be helping to make a Hollywood blockbuster. "We received the call that we were participating, collaborating on this project, and at first we actually thought it was a joke, or that we were dreaming, because it was such an outrageous opportunity." And so Rose and his team set to work. Most of the film is set on a spaceship during its 120-yearlong journey to a distant planet. To capture the essence of the film's futuristic world, the team created a tablet for the main characters to use aboard the spaceship.

Phillip Rose, Director, Design Center, Sony Europe

Phillip Rose, Director, Design Center, Sony Europe

The tablet of the future has a retractable screen
and is "as slim as a fat pencil."

"When I wrote the first draft of this script almost a decade ago," recalls "Passengers" Writer/Executive Producer Jon Spaihts, "I gave the people on the starship tablet to show that they were in the future, because at that time, there were no tablet in the real world. Now, of course, you look around the set and everybody's got one. So to update the technology, we thought, if you invented the future tablet and it became a lightsaber-like device, so that the screen could contract, stow away, the object could really be as slim as a fat pencil, really, and tuck into your pocket."

"Passengers" Writer/Executive Producer Jon Spaihts

"Passengers" Writer/Executive Producer Jon Spaihts

The movie's hero using his tablet aboard the spaceship

The movie's hero using his tablet aboard the spaceship

The device resembles, in Jon Spaits' words, "a fat pencil"

The device resembles, in Jon Spaits' words, "a fat pencil"

Guided by Sony's philosophy of design,
the team creates something absolutely unique.

What was the key to realizing the novel ideas behind the tablet and other futuristic gadgets in the film? Sony Europe's Design Center's Senior Art Director Hiroya Fujii explains: "Our kind of philosophy, or idea of design, is not purely adding details. Sometimes we need to remove some of the parts to get the beauty part of the element itself. That definitely brings a very Sony kind of uniqueness into the design." Senior Industrial Designer So Morimoto agrees, adding: "When we think about design, we are not only one. We have talks with the engineers and also with other designers. We have lots and lots of room for discussions. That kind of emotion becomes special."

Hiroya Fujii, Senior Art Director, Design Center, Sony Europe

Hiroya Fujii, Senior Art Director, Design Center, Sony Europe

So Morimoto, Senior Industrial Designer, Design Center, Sony Europe

So Morimoto, Senior Industrial Designer, Design Center, Sony Europe

Sony's open-mindedness and free spirit
enable high-level collaboration.

This spirit is not unique to one design or one project, but informs everything that Sony does. It goes to the very heart of what Sony is as a company. Industrial Designer Pietro Russomanno of Sony Europe's Design Center puts it this way: "The good thing about working with Sony, as such a forward-thinking company, is that it allows you also to change things. And it's Sony because of this." For his part, "Passengers" Prop Master Josh Roth breaks into a smile as he recalls, "It was a lot of fun collaborating with you guys. I really enjoy the fact that you're able to feature some of the Sony products in this movie." Finally, on behalf of the entire design team and production crew, Design Center Director Phillip Rose reveals the secret behind successful collaboration: "Sony has a visionary and an innovative streak that's not always apparent, I think, and it's very clear that there is an open-mindedness and a free spirit that leaves Sony able to collaborate. So, I know there is an honesty and purity about our intentions, our way of doing this, and I hope that comes out."

Pietro Russomanno, Industrial Designer, Design Center, Sony Europe

Pietro Russomanno, Industrial Designer, Design Center, Sony Europe

"Passengers" Prop Master Josh Roth

"Passengers" Prop Master Josh Roth

The team discusses one of many design details for the film

The team discusses one of many design details for the film

What will Sony's spirit of collaboration dream up next? Somewhere, at this very moment, a new team is formulating its own vision of what the future has in store.

Overview

  • Work on "Passengers" begins.
    Capturing the film's futuristic world.
  • The tablet of the future has a retractable screen
    and is "as slim as a fat pencil."
  • Guided by Sony's philosophy of design,
    the team creates something absolutely unique.
     
  • Sony's open-mindedness and free spirit
    enable high-level collaboration.
     

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