Mar. 6, 2015 | By Alec

'A worldwide viral outbreak has left much of the population dead or missing. There is no government. The sky is full of autonomous drones. After being separated from his father, 16-year-old Kitch is trying to lead a normal life in a post-apocalyptic world, but when he discovers a strange drone following him, his life will be anything but normal.’

It sounds like the pitch of the latest blockbuster coming out of some Hollywood studio, but it is in fact the plot of a new web series called Rotor DR1 that is revolutionary in several ways. Not only is it one of the first series ever to rely on 3D printing technology, it’s also the developed through a unique production process known as ‘community collaborated entertainment’. Post-production for the 10-episode series is currently underway, which is also being released as a film.

Check out the trailer here.

But the plot itself is fascinating already. While most futuristic series and films focus on either space exploration or the destruction of mankind through a zombie-virus or an alien invasion, Rotor DR1 instead looks at the modern world through a post-apocalyptic lens. What happens to those few survivors in a world full of technology designed to make life convenient. What happens to all those (3D printed) drones and quadcopters that are used for war, for Amazon-style delivers and as mailmen? Not only is it a very original concept, it’s also one of the first series to focus on a technology that is increasingly becoming part of our society. Rotor DR1 was developed by a team led Chad Kapper of StoneKap Productions, whom you might know from his previous drone project and YouTube hit Flite Test. The unprecedented level of success of that series has enabled him and his team to move towards this new project.

And as we wrote earlier, it is relying on an  unprecedented level of fan input. As the team wrote, "The vision of Rotor DR1 was to develop a filmmaking process to build excellent new media entertainment through global community collaboration, and to create a web series and feature film that has been shaped by an unprecedented amount of audience input." As a result, Rotor DR1 incorporates audience input and feedback throughout the production process and for each and every episode. "Community collaborators give feedback on story elements, characters, props and casting, helping the production team make decisions and engaging the audience in the creative process," they write. You could call it New Media, a system that requires interactive engagement with its audience.

Drones from the series (DR1 below).

But the series is, of course, also about drone technology. The futuristic contraption will be piloted by Eric Monroe of Shadow Studios HD throughout filming, a drone and filming veteran and an excellent pilot. As 3D printing was used extensively to prototype the Rotor DR1 drone, plans are already underway to release 3D printed copies of the DR1 for fans and the 3D printing community. These are currently being developed by Chris Starr from Ohio-based 3-D Legion, LLC, who was kind enough to discuss these plans with us.

Chris himself is a project engineer with a background in industrial design, who has been working with 3D printing technology for a while now. "Last summer, as I was in the process of starting 3-D Legion, LLC, I placed 3rd in the MakerBot Thingiverse Mars Base Challenge," he tells us. Chris rolled into the Rotor DR1 project through a colleague, who happens to be Chad Kapper’s father-in-law. "I went to the final day of shooting the series/movie to be an extra. There, I not only was part of the series filming, but introduced myself to Chad. He had contacted me regarding creating 3D printed parts of DR1, that would be sold as kits to the fans of the series/movie," he explains. "I quickly accepted the challenge. I have been working, and collaborating with Dan Knight of Lauren International on developing the 3D model, and 3D printed parts."

As the DR1 drone used in filming (original designed by John Pinkerton) is essentially a tricopter drone modified with craft store parts, it had to be reverse-engineered to turn it into a 3D printed version. "From the props, I reverse engineered the parts, using digital calipers, tape measure, and other tools, recording all of the specifications, and modeling them in SolidWorks. The parts had to be designed in such a way that they would be 3D printer friendly," Christ explains. These parts were then 3D printed in PLA using a MakerBot Replicator 2.

The 3D printed prototype can be seen here.

While the designs are thus almost complete, the idea is that these will be made available through the Rotor DR1 website. "The electrical components will need purchased along with the body kit to actually create your own flying DR1. The files will be offered as STL format," Chris tells us. "I think that the intent is to offer the files so that fans can either 3D print their own, or find a makerspace/hub to print them. 3-D Legion, LLC may offer the body kit as well for the 3D printed parts."

While the Rotor DR1 movie is currently in the final stages of post-production, you can already see the highly-entertaining individual episodes on YouTube here, including the cool drones themselves. It’s a great story and a great concept, and who knows? Perhaps it might introduce drone technology and 3D printing to a wider audience.


Posted in 3D Printing Applicatoins


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Joshua Jerred wrote at 3/9/2015 1:53:36 AM:

That's awesome! I knew with chad that this was going to happen since the beginning.

Steve Moses wrote at 3/7/2015 12:10:24 AM:


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