Hollywood special effects get more sophisticated alongside the technology that creates them, and the same can be said for 3D printing when it comes to the Horror film. Horror (and Science Fiction I would argue) is especially dependent on the creation of realistic special effects. In fact, what’s the point of making a film that is supposed to be scary when the audience can tell that the props are fake? One of the greatest compliments usually paid Horror and Science Fiction films is that “It was so realistic.”
As a Horror fan myself, I think there’s nothing creepier than wild ceatures that look so real that you can truly imagine what it would feel like to encounter one. The flesh looks real, the blood is the right color, and even the texture of the skin and hair can be passed off as authentically alive. If you are a Horror fan, you can bet that you’ve seen special effects produced by 3D printing without even knowing it. And from the sound of things, there will come a time when 3D printing is the rule, and not the exception, when it comes to creating special effects in Hollywod.
Recently, Los Angeles-based Alchemy Studios discussed how 3D printing has changed the Horror special effects industry. Interviewed on KTLA 5, for the program Tech Report with Rich Demuro, Glenn Hetrick, who runs Alchemy Studios, acknowledges what a game-changer 3D printing has been since high resolution video became a common format. For one, the demand that things be as realistic as possible is high. And as anyone who has been exposed to 3D printing knows, the technology is particularly good at creating serious detail. This is due to the computer generated modeling process that precedes each print job.
“A lot of the tricks we relied on for decades to bring creatures to life no longer work because you can see the edges, you can see that it was made out of foam and not skin… Any given day the phone could ring and it could be a call for old age make-up, fat make-up, or an extremely complicated dead body… 3D design and printing is making it so much more fluid.”
Hetrick’s business partner, Neville Page, worked on the film Avatar, and he describes here the evolution of special effects design:
“Details that would take you forever to do I can do now literally in minutes in the computer with greater precision and resolution than I can do by hand… As technology has evolved the pen and paper is stylus and screen. And the clay is digital clay and so you are sculpting in the computer.”
Hetrick knows the industry quite well; he’s worked on all four Hunger Games movies. He is also a judge on the hit SyFy show Face Off. Just take a look at his website to see all of the incredible designs in many categories including creature and alien, forensics and trauma, and character prosthetics.
With 3D printing involved, we are sure to see more amazing work from Alchemy Studios, as the technology will be used more often to make our favorite Horror creatures of future films.