Dec 22, 2015 | By Alec

Hollywood is known for huge movies, huge budgets, huge names and huge egos – not at all a place where you’d expect to find some clever use of 3D printing. And yet high quality 3D printing is increasingly making inroads into the world of film production, as a prototyping and even a prop making tool. But even the spotlights are not far off, as the critically acclaimed stop motion film Anomalisa has extensively used the technology on-screen. In fact, they have 3D printed 1,261 faces for the extensive puppet collection, as puppet supervisor Caroline Kastelic recently revealed in an interview.

While most readers will be going to cinemas for a totally different purpose right now, the forthcoming Anomalisa is also creating quite a buzz in Hollywood. A dramatic film by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, and stop-motion studio Starburns Industries, it tells the story of Michael, a loner who finds a special connection with Lisa on a business trip. Though filmed entirely with puppets, it’s the most human story to come out of Hollywood in some time and it is already seen as the biggest contender for an animation Oscar.

But aside from the plot, it is also a remarkable production story – which has already prompted an installation in the Museum of the Moving Image called "The World of Anomalisa," open to visitors until March 27, 2016. And as Caroline Kastelic explained, 3D printing played a very heavy role in that production process. “We used [3D printing] for a very specific purpose with the realism that they wanted in the faces, and the textures and the differences in color would not have been possible by hand-painting. And they decided early on not to sand the faces and that's a difference,” she reveals. “And that's why they have that nice texture on them and I find that aesthetically brilliant and it also saved us a lot of time.”

The bodies themselves were initially sculpted by hands, with these being 3D scanned and turned into 3D printed creations. “So we sanded those and made molds of them and they're cast in silicone, all hand-seamed and then painted after that,” she adds. For design, the team largely relied on Zbrush and Magic, creating more than 150 different puppets and 1,261 faces that could be put in place. “We had about 20 Michaels at any one time and 10 Lisas or so. But we had a lot of different bodies: Michael in his suit, Michael in his blazer, with his blazer coat off. Lisa in different costumes. And nude bodies. We made tons of bodies, though, because they break and you have to replace them all the time. Tons of arms, tons of eyes,” Kastelic says.

Especially the eyes were a challenge. To achieve that natural and emotional look, the team was forced to combine 3D printing with handcrafting. “They were hand-painted by an artist throughout production, but for about two solid weeks, he could do two pairs a day. We got 3D-printed resin cores, and then we cast the white part out of round, squishy Urethane and the hard core would be put into that. There were hundreds of eyes because they could get scratched when the animators used a pokey tool and hit the iris or the pupil by mistake,” she says. An enamel layer was used to get that shiny finish.

All in all, the production process was unlike anything the team from Starburns Industries had ever done before. It was therefore largely a trial and error process to see what worked. And (spoiler alert), the sex scene was probably the most difficult to capture. “We spent months of R&D on how to make puppets bend like that, hold their different positions but still do the right things. During it, we all hated it. But seeing it and seeing the reviews, you feel good about it,” Kastelic says. To get the puppets to move properly for the scene, the team even had to embed unique armatures into the molds to allow them to do what they do. These special puppets were even cast in a special foam mold with clay walls, to ensure a lighter and more flexible result.

Kastelic was very proud to add that nothing was animated throughout the complex scene. “ That's always your toss-up in stop-motion: you can make things look beautiful but they also have to be practical,” she says. The best thing to do, however, is go see this film and experience the beautiful combination of a gripping story and a fantastic production process for yourself. It is scheduled for release on 30 December 2015.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Ido wrote at 12/22/2015 9:45:45 PM:

Which printer was used??

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