Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Colour 3D/4D Printing for Film

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posted on 2022-08-01, 01:33 authored by Robinson, Victoria

The value of materiality and tactility is vital to enriching our experience of the world. We understand these interactions implicitly, and can see when they are portrayed incorrectly in film. CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) can seem disconnected from the actor, yet practical special effects are constrained by reality. Recently, the 3D printing company Stratasys released a colour, multi-material printer called the J750, which has the capacity to create full colour, flexible articulating prints. This technology gives us the opportunity to find a balance between CGI and practical effects, harnessing the freedom of digital making together with the tactility of physical interaction. Building on the conclusions generated by Ross Stevens’ and Bernard Guy’s work “Lissom”, this study explores how CGO (Computer Generated Objects) can be used by physical prop-makers to enhance the perception of reality in the increasingly digital film industry.

Textual analysis of special effects films shows that CGI and practical effects influence films through Narrative, Audience Experience, Spectacle, Visual Branding and Believability. Through material testing and critical iterative creation, this research defines the skills and knowledge required to effectively design special effects using the J750. Liaising with overseas print bureaus, I also use my knowledge to facilitate other students’ use of the J750, allowing me to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of this technology from a thematic perspective. In addition to this, I also conduct my own prototyping tests to understand how to exploit the technology at a more advanced level. This range of technical and contextual knowledge ultimately result in the production of two final prototypes, which reflect different aspects of my research. These final prototypes will be presented in short films, which will be reflected upon to suggest conclusions on the future 3D printing may have in the film industry.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Design; Industrial Design

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Design Innovation

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

950105 The Performing Arts (incl. Theatre and Dance); 950104 The Creative Arts (incl. Graphics and Craft); 869999 Manufacturing not elsewhere classified; 970112 Expanding Knowledge in Built Environment and Design; 970110 Expanding Knowledge in Technology

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Design


Stevens, Ross; Guy, Bernard