This year at the 82nd annual Academy Awards (3/7), movie stars will be sharing the spotlight with breakthrough technology.
Avatar, nominated for best picture – along with art direction and visual effects – and Coraline, nominated for best animated feature film, were brought to the big screen thanks to innovative 3D printing (or rapid prototyping) technology by Objet Geometries.
For Avatar, James Cameron relied on Objet-created models to plan how his characters fit in Pandora’s lush environment. With 3D printing, the production company Legacy Effects made detailed figurines of each blue-skinned humanoid (see images at right) to test lighting for every camera shot in the movie. The company also used the technology to create a Transformer-like, walking battle armor complete with cockpit.
For Coraline, LAIKA productions used Objet to create thousands of models ranging from cars to doorknobs and food spreads. The technology helped the movie break new ground in stop-motion animation, allowing the character Coraline to exhibit well over 208,000 facial expressions – an extremely significant jump compared to the 800 possible expressions in one of the last stop-motion films to generate buzz, The Nightmare Before Christmas, created in 1993 by the same director.
Objet 3D printing put to the test in Iron Man 2
3D Printer Lets Robert Downey Jr. Fit Iron Man Like a Gauntlet
Think of Hollywood and computers, and your mind turns to special effects. But now you have to add costumes. Legacy Effects, the production company for the Iron Man 2 movie, used an Objet Geometries 3D printer to manufacture the gloves that Robert Downey Jr. wore. The technology has come a long way for modeling and prototyping, not just in special effects, but manufacturing.
I spoke with senior systems engineer Jason Lopes, who said that Legacy Effects prototyped large parts of the latest Iron Man suit and used 3D printing to create various intricate pieces as well as the gauntlets.
With the workflow we have, we save so much time over traditional sculpting or even [CAD] drawing on the computer. We can model out and see things faster.
Below are some pictures, courtesy of Legacy, of the gauntlets:
Legacy designs costume pieces in a CAD program and then scan the actors’ bodies. On the computer, designers impress a scanned actor’s shape into the inside of a part. The company did the actual production parts of the gloves that Downey wore because it needed the 10 micron tolerance control to design the units to move.
Everyone’s experience with the gauntlets, particularly the actor’s, had been far from pleasant in the first movie. The old models fit badly, had poor articulation that limited his movement, and also kept falling apart. “Someone had to constantly be there fixing them,” Lopes says. “He was complaining constantly on the first movie and on the second move it was thumbs up.
A leader and innovator in the rapid prototyping industry, Proto3000 3D Printers are changing the way the films we love are made.
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