April 19, 2014

The Next Step in Stop Motion Animation? 'Bears on Stairs' Made Entirely of 3D Printed Models

Who doesn't love innovation -- especially when it occurs within the filmmaking community? The team at DBLG has added a new angle to stop motion filmmaking with their short animated film Bears on Stairs. Using 50 individual 3D printed sculptures of a polygonal bear, DBLG was able to create a 2-second endless clip of the bear walking up a flight of stairs -- an interesting approach to stop motion animation! Continue on to check out the short, as well as a few behind the scenes images.

Check out Bears on Stairs below:

Staging each sculpture, as well as photographing from multiple angles was a process that took a total of 4 weeks to complete. Here are a few behind the scenes photos.

Maybe it'd be more accurate to describe Bears on Stairs as a GIF rather than a short film, but regardless of the labeling, DBLG has tapped into a potentially promising vein in animated/stop motion filmmaking, though using 3D printing to make films is nothing new.

ParaNormanOne of the studios that has led the charge for stop motion in recent years has been Portland-based Laika Studios, which developed their own innovative way of creating character models by converting pencil drawings into computer generated 3D models, which they later turn into maquettes. In fact, Laika now use 3D color printing, first used on ParaNormanwhich prints out each model in full, pre-designed color.

The exciting thing about Bears on Stairs is the sheer fact that the entire piece was composed of 3D printed materials -- granted there was only one single sculpture and not a complex landscape like ParaNorman, but I think that indie stop motion filmmakers may find a potentially simpler, less expensive, less time-consuming alternative to making stop motion films -- but I'll leave the details on how that's going to happen to those more creative than I.

And as an added bonus, DBLG is giving fans of the video a chance to win one of the 3D printed bears that was used to make Bears on Stairs. All you have to do is like their Facebook page and "show [them] your own take of Bears on Stairs." Send your entries to hello@dblg.co.uk by Friday, May 2nd.

Links:

[via Colossal]

Your Comment

30 Comments

That was beautiful to watch.

April 19, 2014 at 5:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Inna

I found that an unexpected application, really quite cool.

April 19, 2014 at 5:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Saied

that looks like it took forever
it was unBEARable to watch

except the actual animation part that was cool

April 19, 2014 at 5:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Henry

^ I see what you did there!!

April 19, 2014 at 7:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nick

V - that's SO "last week." Only 87 websites beat you to it. :)

April 19, 2014 at 6:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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ronn

Perhaps the value of news more nuanced than what is most recent.

April 19, 2014 at 7:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Doug

Actually, being on the cutting edge has great value. Reporting these things late has an effect on what people think of a web site.

April 19, 2014 at 9:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

V Renee, tell the idiots to stuff it up where the sun don't shine. I don't have time to sit around looking at 87 web sites for my film-related news. NFS is one of just a couple I visit on a regular basis so, please keep posting whatever you want, old or not.

And, since I don't visit many other sites of this type, I wouldn't know but, are there as many shitheads on them as there are on NFS?

April 20, 2014 at 11:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Having a bad day?

April 20, 2014 at 12:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

Your opinion =/= traffic =/= money

So you're technically invalid.

April 21, 2014 at 8:09AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tyler

There's a lot of very irrelevant 'timely' 'news' elements out there.
We're being bombarded with crap from EVERY website- so I've divorced myself of seeing absolute value in the 'latest'. Woodward and Bernstein managed to change news without addressing the previous 24 hours.

April 21, 2014 at 11:58AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Doug

What has the lead story been (mostly) for the past month: A plane is missing and we don't know where it is. Everyday a half-baked headline thinking that there's something when there's nothing. A week after the thing goes missing we learn a bunch of new things, despite the palate of facts having been established.
The latest 'news' has been irrelevant the moment is has been posted.

April 21, 2014 at 12:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Doug

Irony is its still a 3D animation with a different final output medium.

By taking the printed bear texture and reapplying it onto the 3D model of the bear in the computer you could make it look precisely like the final filmed result seen here. VRay would have no trouble matching the ambient occlusion and global illumination seen here. Saving a lot of chemicals in the process.

April 19, 2014 at 7:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Exactly my thoughts as well. There's a big push in recent years to make stop-motion "easier", and one begins to question whether these alternative approaches are more pointless than practical. Laika Studios is taking an innovative approach while still maintaining some of the integrity of traditional stop-motion, but even they rely on excessive green screening, CG background characters, and CG set extensions. I'm of the opinion that you have to embrace the good with the bad in any medium. Advancing the medium forward is one thing, but when you ask too much from something, and begin to rely on other mediums to do what can't be done (whether because of limitations or laziness) then it becomes a clumsy and cumbersome endeavor. One has to wonder if that's not just over-complicating things at that point.

Stop motion is still a perfectly valid and visually striking medium, but studios need to accept it's imperfections or will be phased out by CGI animation altogether. Honestly, if you're going to print hundreds of faces straight from an animated 3D model, color and all, what's the point of not doing the body as well. Then you do the full character, and now what's the point of trying to composite it into a live set. It's going too far. There are stop-motion animators out there that are incredibly skilled, but now they can be replaced by 3D animators and any old person that can fit a peg into a slot and push a shutter button. It's self-destructive madness on the part of the studios. They're digging their own grave the more stray from the traditional hands on approach. Audiences can hardly tell the difference now, and that's not a good thing.

April 19, 2014 at 7:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mike

See the fact of the matter is stop motion is actually being photographed in reality, whereas when you're doing the same thing in Maya/MAX/Lightwave etc you have to recreate the imperfections of reality

April 20, 2014 at 4:38AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Robert

It would of been cool If they had the bear on a glacier, and it melts. A nice social commentary piece.

April 19, 2014 at 8:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Shirley

What would the commentary be?

April 19, 2014 at 9:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

I don't know what you are talking about. I'm just telling you what I saw in the data. Look it up for yourself. And hey, this is a film school blog. Why take crazy shots like that????

April 19, 2014 at 9:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

Man Shirley, relax.

April 19, 2014 at 9:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

I'm thinking of implementing 3D animation into my own stop-motion workflow too, but in a much different way.

For me stop motion is all about real world texture, both in puppets but also in the movement. As a previous commenter mentioned, this is really 3D animation with a solid output. Just like 2D cut out animation is 2D animation with a solid output.

Still, I think this could be useful for replacement animation on smaller parts etc.

April 19, 2014 at 10:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Totally agree with Simon Bailey and Mike...
This is as pointles as it's ridiculous...
Why "hard copying" a CG animation sequence without adding SOMETHING really special to it?
IMHO, this is nothing to be surprised at... Waste of time, resources and, of course, money!!!
Good night and good luck!

April 19, 2014 at 11:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Walter Reyes Franco

Is that a 3D printed policy or a normal 2D paper policy, or a 3D digital policy thats been 3D printed, then shot on film, scanned back to digital and then uploaded to youtube and if I need to add another driver to the policy which version do we add it to??

April 20, 2014 at 4:18AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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This is very well done but it doesn't look like stop motion it hasn't got that quirky movement. If you hadn't shown the making of it I would have assumed it was computer animated not stop motion. Don't get me wrong it looks fantastic but I'm not sure it has the charm and aesthetic we expect from stop motion.

April 20, 2014 at 5:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I know this will have very useful applications in that it can produce things that couldn't be done by hand. But yeah, there isn't the charm, of say, Aardman stop action. But nothing has the charm of Aardman.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnUKQww9IPM

April 20, 2014 at 6:58AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

I think, as a test, it could be a worthwhile demo of the technology. Of course, CGI is getting to a point where one could render a photorealistic shot fairly quickly - depending upon the resolution and the composition of the entire scene - to make anything but CGI obsolete. In their much derided WWII air combat flick, Lucas Films used several full scale plane models to create the composite fight sequences. Hypothetically speaking, a recreation of large historical battles - from Midway to Waterloo - might benefit from the 3-D printing of the various weaponry in lieu of the actual reconstruction of the replicas or 100% CGI. As I recall from the classic WWII epic "D-Day", the Allied air armada was created via a matte glass with a couple of air worthy planes being multiplied with the VFX.
.
PS. Shirley, surely, you must be kidding. The US had one of its coldest winters in the past century.

April 20, 2014 at 6:52AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

And Europe had one of the warmest winters in the past century. So, as far as anecdotal evidence goes, it doesn't apply to climate change.

April 21, 2014 at 7:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DW

Not anecdotal - statistical.

April 21, 2014 at 8:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

It doesn´t have the handcraft work that would make a stopmotion really worthy (at least for me). A machine cutted it all. I think that stopmotion has the weight of the love given on handcrafting the characters. This work has a luck of it... it s cold...

April 21, 2014 at 5:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nelsch

The art of stop motion animation is in the artist manipulating the movements between each frame. This is not stop motion animation, just 3d printing out an computer animation loop and photographed them nicely in a sequence.

April 21, 2014 at 7:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Edmond

HAnd crafted is alwayse king, it stands the test of time ..a complete cgi with no human touch just becomes dated with the latest rendering technology.

June 20, 2014 at 2:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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