Colour 3D/4D Printing for Film (2017)

Colour 3D/4D Printing for Film (2017)

Tor Robinson

Great acting, engaging story lines and immaculate sets and props go hand-in-hand in creating a memorable experience for movie goers. Successful movie makers have long realized that it takes more than just any one of those to make a remarkable movie. Unheard of budgets for actors, location scouts, set designers, and prop makers reflect that. Prop making as such has been an expanding industry for creatives in the movie making world, but they have been restricted by the limitations of the raw materials available. So that if prop making is not a suitable avenue, up until now green screening and CGI has been used to add effects/locations/fantastic characters for the actors to pretend to interact with.  These interactions can seem disconnected and can be easily spotted by the audience.

For her Master’s submission Tor Robinson examined how to use the latest 3D and 4D printing technology – represented by Stratasys’ J750 multi material printer – to economically create tangible props that enhance and further a story line, enabling credible interactions. 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 Guys’ 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.

The two objects created for the paper are Okris (fruit) and Keratos (a claw); a generic kind of scene prop and a bespoke costume part. The range of colours and material qualities available through the printer enabled Tor to create a fruit that displayed recognizable features of a food item: the firm texture of a skin to be peeled of and the juicy content to be eaten. For the claw, the digital scanning of the actors’ hands ensured a precise fit and again the range of colours to create distinctly individual body props.

For more of Tor’s work see: Orbit, Keratos, Okris, Weta Workshop, and her website.

Materials and processes – close up


The design process was done in Autodesk Maya.


The final objects were printed via the Stratasys printing bureau on their J750 printer.

Project Level

Master of Design Innovation, MDI, supervisors Ross Stevens and Bernard Guy