Mar 24, 2016 | By Alec

If you love science fiction and drama, you were probably on the edge of your seat for last week’s season finale of Colony. Telling the story of a father and mother’s search for their son in a dystopian, alien-controlled Los Angeles of the near future, the antagonists are mysterious, never-seen alien conquerers who control society with an iron fist and loyal collaborators. Without giving away too many spoilers, the season finale featured one of the aliens. As a Behind the Scenes look at special effects company Legacy Effects revealed, the alien’s exoskeleton was actually 3D printed using a MakerBot Z18 3D printer.

The show itself is must-see for lovers of dystopian sci-fi, as it combines both aliens with an intimidating police state. After being separated from their son during the invasion, husband and wife Will and Katie are trying to do whatever they can to find him – including working together with both the occupational government and the rebellion. Produced by Legendary Television and Universal Cable Productions, it has already been approved for a second season.

The season finale was packed with emotion and cliff-hanging elements, but that actually involved a lot of 3D printing work to realize. The special effects surrounding the alien were developed by Legacy Effects, one the most innovative special effects companies in Hollywood right now. Legacy Effects also has a very long resume. They are, among others, famous for making suits for Iron Man, Avatar, Real Steel, Robocop and Pacific Rim. They recently used 3D printing technology for their work on Terminator Genisys, and have previously used a variety of 3D printers, including from Stratasys, MakerBot and Carbon3D.

And as MakerBot’s CEO Jonathan Jaglom revealed, 3D printing is quickly becoming an integral part of their work. “3D printing has become more accessible for artists and designers over the last couple of years and the technology has matured both in terms of reliability and functionality,” he revealed. “That's why we're seeing more and more professionals embrace 3D printing to help them realize their ideas. Rapid prototyping allows them to iterate on their designs in a way that is faster and more affordable than ever before.”

This is very clearly seen in the production of this alien, as can be seen in the Behind-the-Scenes clip below. We were approached about doing an alien exoskeleton for the season finale [of Colony],” says engineer Jason Lopes. “[I was shown] some character sketches, and I said ‘I think we can do this 100 percent on a MakerBot Z18.” In the end, the end, that was exactly what they did and the whole suit was completed in just two weeks.

All the individual exoskeleton parts were designed and 3D printed in house, which was followed by an extensive finishing process – something which perfectly illustrates the capacity and limitations of using a 3D printer. “I knew that direct manufacturing might be a way for us to cut out the casting and molding processes. We still have to paint it and touch it and polish it and get it ready. We’ll never get rid of the artistry behind it,” says Legacy’s co-owner Allen Scott.

But it did save them a lot of money. “With other machines, a suit like this would cost tens of thousands of dollars,” says Colby Dennison of MakerBot. It also provided the speed necessary for the hectic Hollywood schedule that is doubtlessly behind the fantastic Colony show. We can’t wait for the next season.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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