Nov 1, 2017 | By Benedict

The visual effects team behind Netflix sensation Stranger Things has revealed how it used 3D printing during the development of the show’s monsters, including the nightmarish “Demogorgon.” Studio models were 3D printed on a SLA 3D printer.

The release of the second season of Stranger Things has been one of the major events of this Halloween. The Netflix-produced show captivated audiences last year with its blend of spooky and nostalgic sci-fi magic, and when Netflix announced that a second season would follow, people were obviously pretty excited.

The show is the perfect Halloween treat, too. As well as featuring an episode that takes place on Halloween, the second season has all the things you want around October 31: fun, frights, and a terrifying monster that’s somehow even scarier than the beast from Season 1 that lived in a parallel world and occasionally tried to tear through your walls.

But with a TV show as engrossing as Stranger Things, it’s easy to forget what's happening behind the scenes to make certain visual effects happen on-screen. The story is (very much) set in the 1980s, but the creepy monsters and supernatural goings-on look a good deal more impressive than sci-fi TV of that vintage.

According to the visual effects team behind Stranger Things, 3D printing actually helped bring some of that magic to life.

A major part of the first season of Stranger Things was the aforementioned other-world monster, the Demogorgon, which creators the Duffer Brothers wanted to ensure was absolutely perfect before they began filming the hit series.

When the Duffer Brothers were putting together ideas for the Demogorgon at Aaron Sims Creative (ASC), a visual effects studio in California, they made a radical decision: they wanted their monster to be brought to life with practical effects, rather than digital trickery.

ASC was keen on the idea, but suggested a hybrid approach: using both physical models and costumes, but touching them up with CGI to achieve the full effect. The studio even helped the show’s creator design many other aspects of the Stranger Things universe, including the aesthetic of the “Upside Down” parallel world.

However, there was still the small matter of designing the monster. That was ASC’s job, and to give the full picture to the show’s directors, the studio used both regular sketches and 3D printed models.

“The Demogorgon was one of the first prints that we did using our Formlabs 3D printers, and we were amazed,” said VFX pro Aaron Sims, who also worked on major sci-fi productions like Men In Black.

“Before that, we had always outsourced printing. So to be able to grow it in-house, and see a design that we helped create from the very beginning printed right in front of us, was kind of an amazing thing. It was like going back to the days of when we used to sculpt with clay.”

According to Sims and his studio, the ability to 3D print models of the Stranger Things monster in varying sizes on a Formlabs stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer was incredibly helpful for making quick decisions.

“When you’re using your imagination on a project, somebody else is too—and your imaginations might not line up,” said Steffen Reichstadt, ASC’s creative director. “It’s pretty hard to debate something that’s right in front of you in physical reality.”

With the 3D printed Demogorgon sitting on the table in front of them, the ASC team was able to quickly spot what worked and what didn’t—a luxury they would not have had so much using only digital, on-screen models.

“You can point at something and say this isn’t right, or this is,” Reichstadt added. “With a digital model, you can kind of debate that, and it can stay up in the air until the last minute. Whereas with practical effects, you know, concretely, what it is moving forward.”

Ultimately, ASC says, it’s innovations like 3D printing that allow design studios to come up with radically new concepts and new ways of realizing them.

“I think if people 20 years ago were to see what we create right now, their minds would explode,” Sims said. “Right now, we’re accustomed to it and, in some ways, bored by it. It’s amazing how things grow and change because of innovation, but also because of people always wanting more.”

Sadly, we don’t anticipate ASC sharing its original 3D models of the Demogorgon, but the launch of the new season will doubtless spawn a multitude of Stranger Things prints across Thingiverse and other 3D printing platforms.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Sara wrote at 11/2/2017 4:14:29 PM:

Will you share the .STL or .Form file so we can print one ourselves?

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