Time Machine

Page updated April 28, 2005
Materialon this page provided by Oliver Scholl, production designer

The Time Machine design was the result of the collaboration of
Simon Wells, Oliver Scholl and a core team consisting of

Tim Wilcox 3D Modeling
Darell L. Wright, Set Designer
Andrew L. Jones, Specialist Model Maker
Dana Juricic, Specialist Model Maker

About the Time Machine


During design developement and documentation, Dana and Andrew would build a physical model, easier to interact with and change, based on the presentation 3D geometry. We then refined the model according to design needs, figureing out proportions, how the wheels would retract, the panel mechanics could work etc. During this time the physical model constantly changed and the computer model was updated accordingly. Darell meticulously and beautifully drafted the geometry, added the necessary period detailing and flair.Consistant 3D files and physical blueprints went to Matt Sweeny, where they were used for different parts of the machine.


My initial starting point for the time machine shape was to use an "hourglass".
By setting it to a slant it creates a front/ back to indicate a direction of movement. Even though we're moving through time, not space
this seemed necessary to me.
Simon and I loved the original machine. We wanted to have a rotating disc and simon thought it would be great do something with
fresnel lenses. They are one of the elements that we used to ground the machine in it's period.
At the same time I had started thinking about the VFX to create the time field. We liked a petal idea for additional buildup and
movement. But it occurred to me that the "interesting" stuff is all happening behind this central body, and it would be nicer to lose
the hull for something more akin to nautical and astronomical period instruments we had found in our research.

here are the panels showing the time field concept with the hourglass shape:

Initial generation of electro-magnetic/gravitational field

Amplification and emission of field,
deflected by cone mirrors

First stage focusing, center shield lenses start rotating and slide outward

Second stage focusing- main shield lenses over extend into field flare while rotating around central axis

Third stage focusing-main shild lenses draw field flare into spherical laminar flow

Time Sphere complete

A little word about the legs, they were supposed to remind us of the "eagle" moon lander or other spacehip legs, retractable as they
should not be cut off by the time field.
Here's the final concept sketch, for the initial presentation and starting point for the further development.
Conscious of the amount of money it would cost to articulate the disk/panels. I simplified them though earlier sketches show the
petal concept. As the presentation was approved with the 3d animatic of the moving panels, we ended up building the intended complexity.

final concept sketch:
My own 3d sketch model of the machine concept, Mr Wilcox provided the figure.

You can see more of Oliver Scholls production art, stills
and lot more on his website at:

Early concept, this was rejected as it closely resembled a jet engine
Next concept attained the glass panels in a bubble configuration
Next concept attained the freznel glass panels

The following illustrations were done by Tim Wilcox using a 3-d rendering program. Some of these files contained over 1.6 million polygons and required 4 days to render.

The files created for these illustrations were then e-mailed to Matt Sweeny Effects and used by their CNC machines to create the parts for the full size machine. These same files are also being used by the Visual Effects Department for the computer generated effects to simulate the machine traveling through time.

It has been estimated that by doing this process the production company was able to save a quarter of a million dollars in costs.


Final design, note the central panel supports have been uncovered to revel the three brass support tubes at each end
Left profile
Looking down
Rear view
Side lever blueprint
Control lever and Babbage Difference Engine blueprint
The control lever at this time resembles
the one from the George Pal film
Cross section drawing of one of the lens assemblies
Lens panel extention mechanism



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The Time Machine Project 1998 Don Coleman
Web Site 1999 Don Coleman
Web site created by Don Coleman
3727 W. Magnolia Blvd. #240
Burbank, CA 91505