Jan 12, 2016 | By Kira

Every year, the city of Amsterdam hosts KLIK, a film festival and awards ceremony to highlight and celebrate some of the world’s best animated features and shorts. Deftly merging on-screen animation with real, three-dimensional life, Dutch artist Klaas-Harm de Boer 3D printed 15 animated statues to create a lively and colorful zoetrope animation that was exhibited throughout the festival. At the end of the awards ceremony, the tabletop zoetrope was disassembled, as each statue became an actual, 3D printed award, handed out to the talented winners.

A zoetrope is a pre-film animation device, that uses a series of either drawings or photographs to create the illusion of fluid, animated motion. For 3D zoetropes, a series of detailed sculptures are arranged on a spinning cylinder, illuminated by a strobelight, and then photographed at extremely fast rates, thus making the sculptures appear to be fully animated. Previously, we’ve seen artists use 3D printed zoetropes to create dramatic films, or a 3D printed zoetrope lamp using the mathematics of the Fibonacci sequence.

de Boer began 3D printing zoetropes two years ago, when he created a similar, tabletop zoetrope animation called Octomadness for the 2014 KLIK festival. Inspired by Pixar and Studio Ghibli, he combined 3D animation and 3D printing to create an extremely energetic, surrealist and vibrant scene, complete with a hot pink octopus and bright orange ducks.

scene from Octomadness

As an artist and animator, de Boer told 3Ders.org that he seeks to inject “simple shapes and nice colors” with “minimal, clean designs”. However, ‘minimal’ certainly does not translate to ‘boring’ with his work. Instead, his portfolio is bursting with whimsical and vibrant characters that, though simple, are full of personality.

Thus, for the 2015 festival, he was approached by KLIK director Yvonne van Ulden to design a cheerful mascot for the entire festival. Shortly after, fellow animator Tunde Vollenbroek suggested that the same mascot be used to make another zoetrope, and every statue into a permanent keepsake and award.

After sketching out a few designs, de Boer settled on a pink, square-shaped fellow with bright blue lips and a penchant for walking around in his underpants. The mascot was named Frankie, and thanks to 3D printing and 3D animation, Frankie managed to take on a life of his own.

de Boer used Autodesk Maya to design a range of 15 Frankie characters, each in a different pose action pose, and prepare them for the 3D printing process—something he’s quite used to by now, and has even come up with a few insider tips to make things run more smoothly. “When preparing the models for print I use a couple of techniques that make the assembly easier later on,” he explained to 3Ders.org. “For example on each model I print its number. Also I print small holes in the models that later are used to attach the them onto the spinning disk.”

“When the animation is final, I duplicate all the geometry of each frame as a separate model,” he continued. “I place the models on a cylinder that is equally divided by the number of the amount of models. That way I can already test if the animation is going to work. If everything looks good I prepare all the models for print."

Once that’s all taken care of, de Boer sends his models to local 3D printing bureau 3DV-Print, which uses a ProJet 660 3D printer to create each individual statue in high quality and full CMYK color.

Whereas the models for Octomadness were 3D printed in PLA, for the Frankie zoetrope, de Boer switched to sandstone 3D printing. “I really like this type of printing as it has a very soft yet strong end result. Because of it refined quality, I feel sandstone can be used as an final product, where as PLA works better for prototyping.” Each model is also coated with a clear varnish to make them waterproof.

The final 3D printed models were arranged onto a spinning cylinder and then filmed to create a short clip that begins by showing the entire table, as it slowly progresses from being still, to spinning faster and faster, until the illusion of movement is complete. As de Boer explains, the zoetrope film “enables the audience to see each individual frame separately and gives a great insight into creating the final animation,” a perfectly executed and very relevant project for a film festival that is all about celebrating the ‘power and freedom’ of animation. He also created a ‘making of’ video to show the designing, 3D printing, and zoetrope assembly process.

KLIK! Awards Video

Frankie - The Making Of

At the end of the festival, the zoetrope was disassembled and each KLIK festival winner was able to go home with their very own, unique 3D printed Frankie statue, whose wide smile and bright colors are sure to make them smile every time they see it on their shelf. Frankie was also made into a life size version that walked around the EYE film museum (the venue for the festival), hugging and high-fiving participants. “It was both a weird and special experience to be able to finally hug Frankie in real life!” said de Boer.

Currently, the artist is maintaining an ongoing project called Lars, a fun, online character he created. de Boer is also working on two more large-scale zoetropes that will be 3D printed using the same techniques as Frankie and Octomadness.

Recently, 3D printing technology has been used to bring animated films to entirely new levels, such as the 150 3D printed puppets created for Charlie Kauffman’s Anomalisa; See Creature’s spooky 3D printed horror film, Bone Mother; and the beautifully detailed, 3D printed world of The BoxTrolls, for which Laika recently won an award from the Motion Picture Academy.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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