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How 3D printing technology is making waves in the animated film industry

How 3D printing technology is making waves in the animated film industry

3D printing technology is making big waves in the entertainment industry, with many producers and entertainers turning to the technology to enhance creations in the field. 3D printing technology is helping to refine and perfect the animated creations of animated film companies, below we explore the ways in which the technology is enhancing the field.  

How 3D printing technology is helping to revolutionize the field of entertainment

Many argue that 3D printing is revolutionising the entertainment industry, in a similar way to CGI. 3D printing can be used to enhance a variety of aspects that are central to the field; for example, full sized props, costumes and set-pieces, can all be printed efficiently, and to precise specifications using 3D printers.

Entertainment props producer, Russell Bobbitt is an example of some of the amazing things that can be achieved with 3D printing technology: “He has over 20 years of movie & 3D printing experience and his work can be found in Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, Iron Man and Iron Man 2, Kenneth Branagh’s Thor, The Hangover or Cowboys and Aliens. And he’s the man behind the iconic illuminated chest piece that Robert Downey Jr. has in the Iron Man trilogy”.

Better animation

3D printing has greatly helped develop the world of virtual animation. Lakia Studio’s was one of the first studios to utilise 3D printing in their animations. The company used 3D printing, to facilitate “replacement animation,”;  a technique which involves replacing physical components of models, with 3D printed parts in order to present those parts as moving. Replacement animation was used by the company to present the illusion of movement of the characters, in their films - such as ‘The Boxtrolls’. The use of the technology allowed the company to enhance and improve the expressions of characters, and wider film effects. The company were subsequently awarded with a Scientific and Engineering Award at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Scientific and Technical Awards, in February 2016, for their innovative use of 3D printing in their creations.

In his interview with Cartoon Brew, Brian McLean - the studio’s Director of Rapid Prototyping, demonstrates the power of 3D printing technology to bring animation to life, “McLean shows us a scene of a character slamming his fist on a table; the reverb from the reaction is reflected in their face. There’s a sense of weight and bounce that moves through the facial replacements that feels more like flesh than what it actually is, which is hard pieces of plastic magnetically snapped to a puppet’s head.”

The animation studio, Aardman Studios, has also used 3D printing technology to help enhance their animated film “Pirates”. Lloyd Price, the supervising animator of the film, explained how 3D printing could be used to help refine their plasticine models, “We went for the EnvisionTEC printers because they were capable of doing very fine detail. And what we liked about them is the fact that you could get very good surface detail and you didn’t have to sand them”.

3D printing technology is helping us to create in better ways; providing us with more refined animations, and more fantastical props in our films.

Tagged with: animated film, film industry