ETEC_Stoopid buddy_Studios_3D printing

Award winning animation studio relies on ETEC to help create characters.

Stoopid buddy_Studios logo


Established in 2011, Stoopid Buddy Stoodios is an award-winning production company and animation studio that specializes in stop motion, computer generated and 2D animated content for television, film and the web.
Primarily based in Burbank, California, in 2021, the studio opened a second office in Toronto, Canada, to tap into the region’s deep well of animation talent.

For almost as long as film has existed, stop-motion has been used to make objects and characters move on the screen.

The challenges

And for most of that time, the challenges in producing it have remained the same. Compared to traditional cel and modern computer animation, stop-motion animation is incredibly tedious and difficult to produce. Current productions require animators to build elaborate sets and potentially dozens of character puppets, all of which must be moved in tiny increments, frame by frame, to create the illusion of movement.
While that extensive catalogue of products means the company has to maintain a vast inventory of thousands of production molds, QSR must also be able to quickly create new tooling for prototype and custom parts.

To create the highly-customized characters seen in modern animation productions, however, many studios today create characters digitally and then rely on 3D printers to produce the parts that make up the puppets used in animation.
While that newer approach can streamline the animation process in some ways, it also comes with new challenges.
Rather than attempting to move characters’ mouths and other facial features by hand, modern productions typically use what’s called “replacement animation,” a technique in which animators swap interchangeable body parts – like mouths, eyes, hands and more – between frames.

While it sounds simple enough, the underlying challenges can be significant – beginning with volume. Producing the hundreds – or in some cases, thousands – of interchangeable body parts needed to animate even a single character was an enormously time- and labour-intensive process, requiring hand-sculpting models which were used to create molds, and then casting each part.
The process was so slow it limited Stoopid Buddy’s ability to take on new productions, and depending on how complex the animation is, it could take weeks to complete.

The ETEC solution

To address those challenges and speed up the process, Stoopid Buddy turned to 3D printing and the ETEC D4K, which delivers the highest resolution for a professional-grade desktop 3D printer. It has the fastest speed for a standard DLP printer and delivers extremely accurate parts with the finest detail.

Using ETEC’s D4K printer, Stoopid Buddy staff have been able to print a wide range of parts – including faces, eyes and eyebrows, and even hands and feet – for different character puppets.
Speed is among the most significant benefits that 3D printing brings to the company.
Even at resolutions as low as 25 µm, parts could be easily printed in just hours, helping to ensure productions stayed on schedule and budget.

The ability to rapidly produce parts also allows Stoopid Buddy to remain highly nimble and quickly adapt to production changes – as character designs change and evolve, the company can simply adjust digital character models and have new designs printed and on camera in just days.

Another key benefit for animators is 3D printing’s repeatability, which makes it easy to create multiple versions of the interchangeable character parts used in stop-motion. While Stoopid Buddy uses several 3D printers, the D4K’s advantages – in terms of speed, resolution and material compatibility – have helped it become a key part of the studio’s workflow.

ETEC_Stoopid buddy Studios_3D printing_animation