Oct. 20, 2014 | By Alec

Who is 'Box man'? He is the main character in a Chinese short stop-motion animation film that launched last week. Entitled 'Breaking out of the box, be yourself!', the film follows the life of Box Man and his frustrations with his boring daily activities and his ongoing search for his own identity.

He is confined to a single knowledge structure and dull, repetitive social roles that lack any creativity and passion. His frustration builds up until he finds the field he is interested in. Finally, through continuous exploration and transformation of his identity, based on experience and wisdom, he is able to find his own role in life and discover his face.

This intriguing piece launched last week, on October 17, through the initiative of the online study platform 'Zihua Creative'. The team behind Zihua combine 3D printing and stop-motion animation to encourage others to search independent learning and growth, and to let others realise their own 'eclectic' creativity. This has all come together in this short film on Box Man, which has been entirely realised with 3D printed parts.

So far, it's reportedly been quite a success which is hardly surprising. Many people can recognise themselves in the faceless figure searching for himself, while their unique photography style will doubtlessly turn some heads.

Of course, their extensive use of 3D printing technology is also very impressive. To realise their animations, the video production team behind this film relied on Tiertime (PP3DP)'s UP! Plus 2 desktop 3D printers. They purchased 5 UP! Plus 2 themselves, while the Tiertime company provided an additional 6 3D printers and some printing materials.

In total, eleven UP printer Plus 2 were used in production, which combined their efforts to produce a highly impressive 688 'Box Men', all with different poses and gestures. To animate these, the production team spent a month on frame-by-frame filming and post-production work. And while just a short film, the results are truly great.

Left: UP! Plus 2 3D printer; Right: Part of the 688 'Box Men' 3D printed models

The film was made by a collaboration of three teams: Zihua Create, Goodstein and Pixomondo. They said: 'We totally print 688 models on UP Plus 2, of which less than 20 figures needed to be reprinted, reject rate of less than 3%! This makes it the most effective 3D printing project we've ever seen!'

Shen Zejian, Zihua Create's chief designer remarked that 'the 3d printed results perfectly reflect my overall artistic design. Due to the deadline, we are producing all the models with a relatively low accuracy, but the resulting prints and textures gives the whole video a new texture and style.'

Shen Zejian, Zihua Create's chief designer

For those of you who don‎'t know, stop-motion animation relies on endless photography shots following each other in quick succession. And while 3D printing technology is widely used in a number of artistic fields, stop-motion animation isn't one you ever see it in. Many stop-motion artists have worked with clay figures in the past, as they can easily be modified slightly, though cloth and metal are also often used.

3D printing, however, offers them a whole new spectrum of production possibilities. It can easily be said that 3D printing has greatly shortens both the production time of the miniatures used – as it uses far less human and material resources – while the necessary time for animation of is also reduced.

Picasso once said 'every child is born an artist, the problem lies in how to grow that talent'. This has really been their drive; 'Perhaps many of us have thought about shooting a film you like, but are scared off by factors such as time or because of financial and technical obstacles. Technology makes our lives become more and more convenient, but also creates new possibilities for our dreams.'

And 3D printing really opens up new avenues for film productions. As Tiertime stated, 'In the future, using their own 3D printer, you can make all the films you want. Premiere these on social media, and invite all your friends to your special event. All this has become palpable, it's not a distant dream any longer.'

'Box Man' comic


Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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Leanne wrote at 7/30/2016 10:57:33 PM:

3D printing in stop-animation has been seen previous to this project. Take the award winning 2014 animation Coraline for example....

3Dfilamenta wrote at 10/27/2014 9:49:22 AM:

Totally loved it I watched it 3 times!

All Things 3D wrote at 10/22/2014 8:59:04 AM:

This was great!

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