Hailing from DePaul University, Robert Hemlich is one of our $1000 Education Grant recipients. Read on to learn about how Shapeways enabled his ambitious 3D printed stop-motion animation film, “You’re Almost There,” currently in production.
Robert caught our attention through his work merging 21st-century digital tools with the magic of stop-motion animation, showing us all that filmmakers can use 3D printing technology on a budget, and with a low barrier to entry.
To tell the story of “You’re Almost There,” which centers on the ill-fated vacation daydream of an idle office worker, Robert used 3D scanning technology and our Full Color Sandstone material to create the posed models of his main character, which he will bring to life within a digitally fabricated dream world. The final piece will combine his Full Color Sandstone figurines, 3D printed PLA props, CNC cut MDF set pieces, and an animatable laser cut acrylic sea.
While traditional stop-motion animation is produced using one flexible model that can be posed differently in each frame, Robert is opting for the replacement technique in which the entire character is replaced on screen to create a sense of movement.
To achieve this, Robert 3D printed a staggering 71 versions of his main character — a feat he says would not have been possible without Shapeways’ manufacturing capacity and material offerings (not to mention our 15% student discount). Better yet, by outsourcing his 3D printing jobs to Shapeways, he was able to focus his time and resources on the aesthetic, artwork, and animation for the film, while maximizing the visual diversity of each Shapeways material.
Even after freeing up some of his time by printing through Shapeways, Robert had plenty on his plate between coordinating the 3D scanning, 3D modeling, rigging, motion capture, 3D animation, CNC milling, and laser cutting for his production, and it wasn’t always easy. At times, the photogrammetry 3D scan did not play nicely with the motion capture rig, and conveying his storyline in a limited number of frames became challenging.
But with his film still in production, he is already seeing some great results:
Throughout the project, I also had a handful of new ideas that came to me for future films and experiments that blend even more types of 3D printing together. As an animator, I hope these experiments will help me discover new ways to bridge the gap between animation and rapid prototyping. Upon finishing the film, I have plans to submit to film festivals for the potential of showcasing this unique method of filmmaking to wider audiences.
Well, filmmakers, you heard it here first. 3D printed animations might just be the new way to make a splash at Cannes.