Meet Jeffrey. The pre-assembled mechanically posed stop-motion puppet head. 3D printed with variable part density afforded by Multi-Material Poly-Jet printing technology in a single file.
Stop Motion (SM) Animation has been around almost as long as photography itself, finding its home in recent years in stylised character films, taking advantage of its unique visual qualities as a tool to tell their stories. Facial animation however, has been a complex part of the process due to the intricacy of facial expression. Two methods I have seen executed effectively are the 3D printed replacement methods seen in films from Laika Studios and the mechanical positioning of faces seen in Corpse Bride, directed by Tim Burton. SM replacement animation requires a different version of the object being animated to be swapped out for each frame of shape change. So in the case of Laika’s feature-length films, this results in thousands of expensive, non-biodegradable faces being printed, some only being seen for 1/24th of a second. In Corpse Bride, the main characters’ faces are animated through mechanically shifting silicone faces, incrementally posed between frames. An effective way to animate using a single puppet, but to create these puppets requires hours of highly specialised artisans from engineers to sculptors to mould makers and painters. The aim of this thesis is to find out if the mechanical one puppet method can be achieved by exploiting the full capabilities of the 3D printing technology used by Lakia. Full capabilities in respect to the accuracy, variation of material colour and flexibility, and with the use of degradable support, can be manufactured pre-assembled, requiring only a single step of physical manufacture. Advantages of which could make SM facial animation more accessible to storytellers keen to use its unique visual qualities and open up further exploration into other implementations of this production method in the area of pre-assembled mechanics.