3D printed movie props

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3D Printing The Most Incredible Props « Fabbaloo

By Kerry Stevenson on August 4th, 2022 in news, Usage

Tags: casting, dreamsmith, entertainment, formlabs, masks, molding, movies, props, resin, silicone

Complex 3D printed prop for Raised By Wolves [Source: Formlabs / Dreamsmith]

Formlabs just published a very interesting piece on how one of their clients leveraged 3D printing to produce movie props that would otherwise be impossible.

The props were produced by South Africa-based Dreamsmith, who make the most astonishing pieces, both props, animatronics and prosthetic makeup for film productions. The company was founded in 2013 by Jaco Synman after receiving awards for working on Mad Max: Fury Road, and now has produced pieces for over 60 productions, including District 9.

3D printed silicone mask for Raised By Wolves [Source: Formlabs / Dreamsmith]

The company’s workflow involves use of CAD and sculpting tools, as well as 3D scanning and 3D printing. For 3D printing, they use a mix of FFF and SLA technology from Formlabs.

3D printing molds for a prop used on Raised By Wolves [Source: Formlabs / Dreamsmith]

One of their more recent projects is to provide some of the special props and make-up effects for HBO’s Raised By Wolves series. While one of my favorite shows, it was unfortunately cancelled by the HBO Gods earlier this year. Nevertheless, if you’ve seen the show, you know that many of the effects used were startling and quite incredible to imagine producing.

Casting a prop used on Raised By Wolves using 3D printing molds [Source: Formlabs / Dreamsmith]

Dreamsmith chose to use a small fleet of Formlabs Form 3L 3D printers for this job, as they have a more than sufficient large build volume. Dreamsmith explains:

“The Form 3L ticked all the boxes. It has a massive 33.5 x 20.0 x 30 cm build volume with a resolution of 25 microns, all enabled by PreForm software that makes the package extremely reliable and easy to use. All this coupled with the impressive variety of resins makes the Form 3L an incredibly powerful tool, one tool that has completely revolutionized our workflow in two short years.”

3D printing texture molds for props used on Raised By Wolves [Source: Formlabs / Dreamsmith]

The news piece walks through five different applications by Dreamsmith on Raised By Wolves, including challenging projects like making a hyperrealistic silicone replica of an actor’s mangled face, producing a highly complex silicone custom-fit mask, and rapidly making a life-size realistic body double 3D print of an actor for a scene that would be impossible to film with the live actor.

Complex 3D printed skeleton for Raised By Wolves [Source: Formlabs / Dreamsmith]

In addition, they undertook a project to produce “impossible” props. These were large sculptures that could literally not be produced in any way other than 3D printing due to their geometric complexity.

Production process for making a complex 3D printed skeleton for Raised By Wolves [Source: Formlabs / Dreamsmith]

Specifically, this model was of an organically shaped full size biomechanical skeleton. Dreamsmith explains:

“The design above is of a life-size biomechanical skeleton. An intricately detailed prop with a geometric flow that would have been agonizingly difficult to sculpt out of clay and basically impossible to mold with traditional techniques.

The Grandmother Skeleton is a perfect example of a design created purely because we were able to 3D print it. Impossible shapes and interlocking gears have been printed for a while now, but what we needed was the ability to be precise at a useful scale. We needed a life-sized skeleton! The build volume of the Form 3L allowed us to print this entire prop in practical chunks at high resolution.”

3D printing skeleton parts for Raised By Wolves on a Form 3L [Source: Formlabs / Dreamsmith]

I resonate with this application because it is reminiscent of similar highly complex geometries used in manufacturing: they also cannot be produced in traditional ways, yet provide immense new value. Here the value is visual, rather than measured in weight savings.

It’s also a very good demonstration that the build volume of a 3D printer doesn’t necessarily dictate the size of objects that can be produced. Parts can almost always be broken down into smaller pieces and then assembled later.

What’s even more impressive is that for Dreamsmith, this was the first project they undertook that had a majority of 3D printing activity. This new workflow was then put to the test by movie deadlines, and Dreamsmith was able to get to the finish line successfully.

Formlabs has published many details of the workflow and process Dreamsmith used to produce these incredible props, and one can learn quite a bit by reading through them. [Note: Some of the images of the props are a bit gruesome, so please read accordingly.]

Via Formlabs and Dreamsmith

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

View all of Kerry Stevenson's posts.

3D printing in the film industry | 3D Print Expo

3D printing is changing the film industry. Shooting props, mock-ups, and even parts of character costumes can now be made faster, more accurately, and cheaper. Of course, this does not mean that props and designers were left without work: on the contrary, they received a new tool that is in many ways superior to the usual ones.

It's cheaper to blow up a printed car than a real one

In adventure films, we often see spectacular explosions of vehicles: cars, planes, helicopters. If you use real vehicles for filming, the budget of the film will grow noticeably. And what if it doesn’t come out to shoot from the first take? Then the costs must be multiplied by two, or even by three.

3D printed models made in real scale (eg 1:3 or less) fly just as spectacularly but save the crew thousands of dollars. And they can always be reproduced at a lower cost, because the most difficult part of the work is drawing a digital model on a computer. It only needs to be done once. Next will be printing, assembly of modules and finishing of models. This also takes time and effort, but in the end it is cheaper than buying a real car. Or make a model in traditional analog ways.

It was 3D printing that was used by the filmmakers of Skyfall 007 for the Bond car explosion scene. They assembled a 1:3 scale model of a car from 18 printed parts. And the labor was justified, because today this legendary premium car, Aston Martin DB5, costs over $400,000. Previously, layout decorators worked with cardboard, plaster, plywood and wood; now they have a universal material - plastic for 3D printing.

Night props

3D printers have revolutionized props making. Now unique items and artifacts, unusual dishes, weapons, armor and interior items can simply be printed. This saves time, especially if you need to make several identical things. Now even the most caustic blooper hunter will not find the difference between the two swords in different scenes: objects made on a 3D printer from the same model are always identical in shape.

Plastic in the film industry is often used to print “secondary” props that appear only briefly in the frame: for example, filling the shelves in the heroes’ room; table setting in the background. They require minimal finishing and can be printed faster due to their poor surface quality.

More time is spent on props of the first plan. After printing, it needs to be painted, varnished; apply texture. But still, 3D printers save props a lot of time and money.

There are printed objects in films that are included in the golden fund of world cinema: for example, in The Hobbit, elven swords, artifacts (the key to Erebor), parts of armor (bracers, helmets) and even parts of plastic makeup: ears and noses are made in this way orcs. In "Harry Potter" they printed a spider for one of the scenes. And in Iron Man 2013 - a superhero costume: for a perfect fit, the creators of the model scanned the body of Robert Downey Jr.

Creative space

Since 3D printers have become available not only to film studios, but also to ordinary people, they have also been used in amateur cinema. For example, in the movie Jurassic Park: Origin , which fans are making based on the famous blockbuster movie about dinosaurs, all prehistoric animals are 3D printed models. Volumetric printing allows you to take non-professional films to a new level, making them more complex and spectacular.

Learn more about the possibilities of modern 3D printing at exhibition 3D Print Expo in Sokolniki! 3D printing workshops, demonstrations of the latest printer models and the opportunity to meet manufacturers are waiting for you.

Stunning 3D Ghost in the Shell Movie Props

The highly anticipated and controversial adaptation of the Ghost in the Shell manga and anime series is finally out in theaters. Aside from the casting debate and the casting of Scarlett Johansson in the lead role, the movie itself is absolutely amazing. Visually, the film seems to accurately capture the aesthetics of a luxurious, radiant and sometimes depressing future in a fictional Japanese city in Niihama Prefecture, based on Hong Kong. And much of the futuristic technology that gives Niihama Prefecture its distinctive character was not computer-generated, but designed by New Zealand prop makers Weta Workshop.

Former Mythbusters founder and prop maker Adam Savage called the team from his popular YouTube channel "Tested to Weta" and took a close look at some of the amazing props that were created for the movie. Although the use of 3D printers has become almost commonplace in prop creation, this series of videos that show us the film "Ghost in the Shell" shows how 3D technology has already become an integral part of modern prop production. 3D printers were used for most of the film's props, including the incredible life-size robotic skeleton, several beautiful humanoid geisha robots, and even the signature thermo-optical costume the main character wears, all made from detailed 3D scans of actress Scarlett Johansson's body.

The success of recent films such as Mad Max: Fury Road and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which, for the most part, , using real stunts and lots of 3D printed props, pretty much brought back the fashion for Hollywood to use real props and practical effects on set.

The use of computer graphics (CGI) currently makes it possible to seamlessly enhance real-world image settings, but the use of technologies such as 3D printing, and thus the appearance of real props in the film, can add weight and texture to the film. Ghost in the Shell director Rupert Sanders decided to ditch CGI to create many of the unique props seen in the film, including a life-size outline of a robotic skeleton under Johansson's skin.

Savage dedicated an entire video to a few props that Weta Workshop created, but the robotic skeleton is just incredible. The complex assembly includes 300 to 400 individual parts, each arm is assembled and finished. Several different 3D printing technologies and materials were used, including transparent and black resin parts printed with a stereolithographic (SLA) 3D printer. The lungs were printed from nylon using selective laser sintering (SLS), while the joints and support parts were printed from steel to add strength and durability to the skeleton.

You can watch the full "Tested" episode with this robotic skeleton here:

In total, Weta Workshop only spent about a month studying various materials and printing methods before deciding to use resin and nylon parts to work with. They showed Sanders multiple versions of each part, made from different materials, in the finished version, and they even ran their own tests to see how each part would look on screen. Once all the materials were selected, the skeleton was printed, assembled and finished. In addition to printed parts, small modeling components, tiny computer screws, and dozens of laser-cut parts were used. In total, the finished props took hundreds of hours of 3D printing and several weeks of refinement and assembly to create.

« We would not have been able to make this film 2 years ago, because there were no such technologies and such opportunities in chemistry. The skeleton we created... the materials for it didn't exist 2 years ago, so we wouldn't be able to make it. But we can make it today because technology is integrating and evolving... ,” explained Weta Workshop creative director Richard Taylor.

In particular, resin materials have become more advanced and combined with new, state-of-the-art 3D printing software and post-printing equipment, results in incredibly high-quality finished parts. The colorless resin used is almost completely transparent, but finishing until recently was simply not possible. In order to get crystal clear, transparent parts, once they were 3D printed with SLA, the Weta Workshop team transferred them to a special box, where the parts lay under UV light, which helped to further cure the resin. Then, Weta Workshop's painting department covered the finished parts with a clear coat to enhance the final effect. The skeleton was made to fit exactly into a life-size replica of Johansson's body, which itself was 3D printed using ballistic gel, a material used to model human flesh.

Detailed 3D scans of Scarlett Johansson's body were also used to create the iconic thermo-optical bodysuit that can make her invisible and reflect light. The costume looks quite tight and tight, and we think that Scarlett didn't eat much during the days of filming in this costume, and she needed several dressers and makeup artists to fit into it. Many of the costume molds were designed directly around Johanson's body, and some parts were molded from silicone using 3D printing and molds created on CNC milling machines. In total, Weta Workshop created four ready-made costumes for Johansson and four duplicates for her stunt double.

In the video below, Savage takes a closer look at this costume:

As a long time fan of the show, I'm a little embarrassed that Scarlett Johansson plays the Major. It's not that Johansson isn't a great actress, she certainly is, but I think it's kind of weird to film a European white woman without taking out the Asian setting. And, despite the fact that the filmmakers tried to make her as similar to the anime character as possible, this in itself is a bit problematic. If it had been an American remake, including a futuristic New York or something like that, it wouldn't have seemed so edgy. However, maintaining a Japanese location and including several well-known Asian actors, while also asserting a European white actress as the lead character, seems somewhat embarrassing.

That said, despite the casting issues, the directors took the source material seriously and did an amazing job turning it into a live action movie. As with movies based on video games, movies based on anime rarely look like the original and are usually disappointing. However, using modern 3D printing and 3D scanning technology, the makers of Ghost in the Shell have developed, visually at least, one of the most accurate film adaptations I have seen. The film will premiere in the US on March 31, 2017. Discuss the film at 3DPB.

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