3D prints in stop-motion animation

Chipotle Stop Frame

3D printed cast, set & props take centre-stage…

Chipotle Stop Frame

3D printing of film props has long been common in big budget movies, but now its increased affordability is aiding its introduction to smaller budget productions. Recently film maker Johnny Kelly helped US based restaurant chain Chipotle to create ‘Back to the Start’ a viral video with the help of London based visual effects company Artem.


This video is a charming story about a pig farmer who in the name of progress rapidly industrialises his farm to a very large scale, before having some moral and ethical dilemmas about his decisions. Artem combined traditional model making and 3D printing to achieve Kelly’s vision.

factory farm

Traditionally, clay, plastercine or other malleable modelling materials have been used as the basis for  stop motion animation, but 3D printing enabled Artem to work quickly and accurately – scaling everything from their pre-visualization work. The flexibility proved invaluable – allowing model makers and animators to tweak the model’s positions with tiny internal magnets or miniature mechanisms to animate limbs of the characters and animals.
Stop frame

“The beauty of using the Dimension 3D Printer for this project was that we could produce exact replicas of the animatic drawings, rather than guessing about sizes and details as we might have done with hand-sculpted models,” commented Bob Thorne, senior visual effects supervisor for Artem.


Since August 2011, Back to the Start has garnered over 2.5 million views on YouTube and includes music by Willie Nelson. Impressive work!

Via MarketWatch

David is an industrial designer from New Zealand. He contributes a weekly article on personal fabrication for Ponoko. You can follow him on Twitter!