Jan 27, 2016 | By Kira

Slowly but surely, 3D printing is making its way into pop culture. Hip hop and fashion legend Kanye West publicly admitted to being afraid of it; 3D printed films are making their way to the Oscars; and Jay Leno test drove Local Motors’ 3D printed car on national TV . Now, 3D printing is taking an even more ‘artsy’ pop culture turn, playing an important role in The Chemical Brothers’ latest music video for their song Wide Open.

In the minimalist yet mesmerizing clip, directed by Dom & Nic with visual effects help from The Mill, we are invited to watch a graceful contemporary dancer, played by Ex-Machina actress Sonoya Mizuno, slowly, limb by limb, begin to transform. Though at first it isn’t clear what is going on (she herself looks a little confused), we see first her leg, then her torso, arm, and eventually her entire body, morph into a hollow 3D mesh that quite clearly resembles the work of a 3D printer. That is to say, over the course of five minutes, we get to witness a beautiful, graceful dancer, turn into a beautiful 3D printed version of herself.

Indeed, The Mill’s own VFX team describes the video as “Inspired by procedural cellular structures, with an aim to mix the mechanical and organic, we see the protagonist gradually turn into a fully 3D printed structure as she dances around the studio.”

In order to achieve this effect, they used photogrammetry (a multi-camera photography system that can be used to create 3D scans) to create a fully CG model of the dancer’s body, including photo-realistic textures. The 3D model consisted of “107 individual anatomic rigs, as well as bespoke tools to allow the seamless transformation which happens during the dance.”

“The sheer complexity of this project is what made it unique. The amount of camera and body tracking alone was a huge challenge, as well as consistently seamlessly lighting one shot as long as this,” said David Fleet, head of 3D on the video shoot.

“We created clean plates for seven thousand frames entailing a huge amount of traditional hand painted comp work. To lighten the load, the team created a bespoke tool specifically for this project, which automatically scanned our footage for clean parts of the set, projecting them onto the areas that the dancer occupied. We scanned the entire set using Lidar technology to give us an accurate 3D model of the entire environment, enabling us to track the camera as closely as possible."

It was clearly an intensive and exhaustive process, yet entirely worth the effort. And of course, kudos to The Chemical Brothers and their long-time video collaborators Dom & Nic, for managing to perfectly fuse the organic and the synthetic both visually and within the song itself—watching the clip, I felt a somehow transported into a not-too-distance future, where 3D printed dancers could be actually be a normal occurrence.

The Chemical Brothers collaborated with Beck for the song Wide Open, featured on their 2015 LP Born in the Echoes, which earned the British duo a pair of Grammy nominations. There are quite a few layers to the music video—the fact that The Chemical Brothers have a well-known fascination with cyborg life, or that Mizuno recently played in a film all about AI androids. What is most fascinating to us, of course, is the acknowledgement, and indeed beauty, of the ‘3D printed aesthetic’ that runs throughout the entire video, and in fact makes it as incredible, mesmerizing and impressive as it is.

There is no more doubt that 3D printing is going mainstream and enhancing nearly every aspect of our lives, from industrial additive manufacturing to 3D scanned pop music videos. All I’d want to see now is Matthew McConaughay’s 3D Printed Man meet up with Sonya Mizuno’s 3D Printed Woman, and the 3D printing pop culture circle would be complete. Watch the Chemical Brothers ft. Beck Wide Open music video in full below:



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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omar wrote at 2/10/2016 6:20:57 PM:


Me wrote at 1/29/2016 12:52:07 PM:

Titanic work, but totally worth it! Good job, The Mill!

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