When the directors of “We Are Explorers,” a music video created for the Australian synthpop group Cut/Copy, wanted to emphasize the enormous scale of the world, they turned to 3D printing.
Two characters, portrayed using multiple figurines just a couple of inches tall, represent not only the quest of the story, but new achievements for the filmmakers. “The scale of the real world was always very important to the story in order to show this feeling of being tiny in a huge, overwhelming environment,” explains director Aramique Krauthamer. “We also wanted to take the idea of being explorers quite literally for our process and throw ourselves into a new kind of filmmaking adventure.”
In order to give life to this spark of an idea, the directors needed about 200 3D printed figurines to take them from storyboard to stop-motion animation. The tiny statuettes were designed by Mau Morgó in Cinema4D, a 3D animation program. They were then prepared for 3D printing by NextFab in Philadelphia; NextFab and Morpheus Prototypes in Los Angeles 3D printed the models. Each type of motion in the video was captured by a group of eight figurines.Until now, 3D printed figures have only been extras, not the stars, in music videos. But the directors, Krauthamer and principals of the Tokyo-New York creative lab PARTY, Masa Kawamura and Qanta Shimizu, wanted to give this artistic expression a new, grander stage. “The idea started with ‘What if we 3D printed a music video.’ We had been discussing the possibility of creating a narrative where every frame of movement was 3D printed and shot in the street,” says Krauthamer.
“For example, the running or walking sequence requires eight figurines and is designed as a loop so the eighth figurine transitions into the movement of the first,” notes Krauthamer. The dozens of figurines, each standing approximately 60mm tall, were 3D printed on an FDM-based Dimension 1200es 3D Printer by Stratasys, using yellow ABS filament that glowed under the UV blacklights that were part of the video filming.
But the unusual setting, characters and storyline of the “We Are Explorers” is only the beginning for fans of Cut/Copy and 3D printing. All of the files used to 3D print the figurines are available as a bundle for free download on BitTorrent, along with the storyboard itself. The directors hope that the 3D printed characters will get to enjoy new adventures through the work of shared collaboration. “We hope people enjoy the film, the music, the figurines and the process that went into making it. Hopefully people 3D print the figurines, play with them, shoot them, make new storylines we didn’t think of, take them to places we couldn’t and share whatever they do with everyone so we can enjoy the process together,” adds Krauthamer.
Watch the video from Cut/Copy and let your imagination wander – where would you take your diminutive 3D printed companions on an adventure?