(Photo credit: Meaghan Murphy / FoxNews.com: Animator Ian Whitlock demonstrates 3D printed mouths for a pirate captain model.)
Guess what? 3D printers are making those figures speak in the upcoming "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" film from Sony Animation Pictures Studios.
"We built about 8,000 mouths," key animator Ian Whitlock said, explaining how 3D printer helped him to bring the various characters to life in an unusually short time. "For the Pirate Captain model, we made 257 separate mouths. For someone like Charles Darwin, we probably had about 130 mouths."
Even though the film still uses the traditional molding clay and stop-motion animation to produce characters, using 3D printing technology helped the studio speeding up the animation process and brings more vivid and detailed characters to the film.
It's not just faster, but a tremendous boon, Aardman Animations cofounder and movie director Peter Lord said.
"You can get stronger individual animation styles to each face because of the way that they're made," Lord said. "You retain the style very faithfully, so that's very helpful."
"When the mouths are printed out, they're sort of a flesh color. It's the same technology used to create hearing aides. They have about 14 different skin tones … once it's done, we sand it and paint it."
According to Whitlock, "The Pirates!" is the first animated film widely using 3D printing technology. Another example was the 2009 film "Coraline" which used 3D printed objects but in much smaller scale.
"The Pirates! Band of Misfits" will be released in the cinema on March 30, 2012.
Enjoy "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" 2012 trailer below:
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