Dec 22, 2015 | By Alec

Bringing a designer’s own memories, experiences and emotions into the creative process often greatly enhances whatever he is working on, and this is clearly also the case with an intriguing and mesmerizing short film by Raymond McCarthy Bergeron. While we all know films can be packed with emotions, Bergeron takes a completely unique route to bring his past and emotions into the open, pouring all his childhood fears and emotions into custom made 3D printed zoetropes. These, in turn, were filmed for the brief animation called re+belief.

While making a film out of 3D printed figures is impressive enough, turning it into a zoetrope definitely adds a whole new layer of complexity. For those of you who don’t know what a zoetrope is, it is essentially one the first animation devices ever created and was an exciting attraction at any carnival or fair in the late nineteenth century. In a nutshell, it consists of a large number of detailed frames or miniatures placed on a spinning cylinder with a light source in the middle. When powered by hand to make the frames spin around too quick to see, but when viewing them through a small slot or through special goggles, the light and spinning movement create an illusion of animated models in your mind. That is how Bergeron created those unusual animation patterns you can see in his clip below.

As he explains to The Creators Project, re+belief is also a gripping personal tale about how childhood memories can affect you. “Much of this film is a personal story that recalls nine very specific instances of my life. These are memories that have repeatedly haunted me throughout my youth and adulthood. The memories regularly reflected times of bliss mixed with sullen, miserable moments,” he says. “Ultimately the film is about cycles; a story about growing up, religion and relationships.” Like any coming-of-age story, it’s about innocence, fear, darkness, conflict and growth. The focus is on a boy whose dreams and experiences look the way LSD trips are often animated: strange movements, bright colors and flashy fish and hearts, intriguing light effects – all the while unusual sounds, from arguments and screams, fill the room.

As you can imagine, it also involved a gigantic manufacturing process. Bergeron began work on the project while earning his MFA in film and animation at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2014, and spent six months and more than 2,600 hours working on this short clip. The breathtaking results have since been visible on prestigious screens in the film industry everywhere, taking home awards from The International Festival of Animated Arts Multivision and elsewhere.

Much of the work, obviously, involved 3D printing – something that was quite a lot more challenging than Bergeron initially anticipated. “I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but when I dove into it, my brain melted. It wasn’t so much about the hours as it was the frustration of how to make it all work. I had print designs fail, get rejected by the printer, and I continually hit walls of physical limitations of what could be printed,” he says about his hardships. “At one point, I almost gave up and said to myself that I should just render it all, something that my peers suggested. Honestly, that low point and moment in time vitally helped me reshape why I was doing this. It helped me to emphasize that this process was more about sculpting the zoetropes and that the film itself, in some ways, was secondary.” Eventually, he set up a pipeline for an efficient creation and destruction system for the 3D images, something he called vital to the production of the actual prints.

Fortunately, the results are well worth the effort. “In the end, when it first played in front of a public audience and my wife watched it for her first time as well, the moment a tear fell down her face made it completely worth it,” he says. He is therefore already hard at work with more experimental and technical animations. “I just came back from doing motion graphics work for the Climate Summit in Paris which was awesome. On the experimental art side of things, I’ve recently helped a phenomenal artist and animator, Eric Dyer, create an MRI-like device experience using 3D printing of animations I created,” he says. More cool stuff thus definitely seems to be forthcoming.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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