Jul 31, 2017 | By Tess

No one can deny that 3D printing is a versatile technology: it has applications in a broad range of fields including medicine, engineering, arts and design, gastronomy, and more; it has even made the reach onto our screens through such films as Ghost in the Shell and TV shows like Westworld and Game of Thrones. Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul has also taken up 3D printing, though some viewers may not have caught what it was used for.

Fortunately, thanks to some inside info from the show’s special effects technicians, Joseph Ulibarri and Jason Delap, we know exactly how 3D printing has played a part on the recent season of AMC’s Better Call Saul.

According to Ulibarri and Delap, two special effects veterans who also worked on the acclaimed series Breaking Bad, they’ve been using 3D modeling, printing, and microcomputers such as the Arduino for some time now, as the technologies have enabled them to make prop-gadgets for the characters.

Mike's tracking device made with 3D printing, an Arduino, and more

As they told Ars Technica, small bits such as the Greek yogurt mascot that is given to Hector Salamanca in Breaking Bad and more recently, Mike’s tracking device, were realized with 3D printing. The technology has enabled the special effects team to create props that closely resemble and match the show creators’ visions.

“That’s what I love about working with Vince Gilligan—he’s such an inspired individual, and he always has a vision,” Ulibarri told Ars Technica. “Sometimes, it’s difficult to give him what he wants, but that’s what I love about working with him. He knows what he wants, and that makes it easy to work towards.”

For those who haven’t seen season three of Better Call Saul, I’ll try to refrain from too many spoilers, but the 3D printed GPS tracker that Mike Ehrmantraut builds is significant. So was its creation process. As Ulibarri and Delap explained, they used 3D printing, an Arduino, and several components such as batteries and screens to quickly whip up a number of prototypes for the GPS prop, which were presented to show creator Vince Gilligan.

“You can go from an idea to holding it in your hands, and to be able to fabricate that quickly these days is amazing,” emphasized Delap. Not only quick, however, the 3D printed prop looks real, and matches the military style that comes naturally to the hardened Mike.

Joseph Ulibarri and Jason Delap

“We originally looked at old Garmins,” explained Gilligan on the episode insider podcast. “But by looking at military equipment, it has a different feel, like an old fashioned walkie-talkie. It just looks like it fits in Mike’s hand—I always think of Mike in the jungle in Vietnam, and it feels right that he’s holding this and knows how to use it."

For fans of the show and 3D printing, it should be a fun task to figure out what props in upcoming episodes are made using additive manufacturing.

(Images: Joseph Ulibarri / Ars Technica)

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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