It used to be that there were a few channels on TV reserved for documentaries on history, science and natural world. These channels, notably the Science Channel, Discovery Channel, History Channel and National Geographic, in recent years have turned to creating fictional episodic content to draw in more viewers in a highly competitive market. While these programs tend to hold with the tenets of their respective channels, i.e. being fairly accurate historically and scientifically speaking, they have also brought excitement to what may be considered to some as dry subjects. They have successfully married educational content with entertainment… edutainment.
Vikings is a hugely popular program on the History Channel. Going into the 4th season of Vikings, the History Channel enlisted 3D Brooklyn to make 3D printed models of set props for their 3D Prophecy giveaway. Before the airing of a new Vikings episode, viewers were shown a 3D printed copy of a prop featured in that night’s episode. They were tasked with guessing how that item related to the episode plot, and viewers had until 9 PM EST to submit their guess to the Vikings Facebook page. The viewer who was first to guess the relevance of the prop would win that 3D printed item made by 3D Brooklyn. And for those who don’t win? Never fear, 3D Brooklyn has released model files for props from season 4, episodes 1-20, so that anyone with access to a 3D printer can make their own props for display and cosplay. Model files for the first half of Vikings season 4 can be found here and the remaining files here. Videos on how each 3D printed item was created appear next to the model file.
“Our collaboration with HISTORY is super important to us because we’re committed to exposing as many new audiences to this technology as possible,” says Nate Kolbeck, Cofounder, 3D Brooklyn. “That way more and more people can get inspired to begin making things for themselves.”
To accurately capture the details of the Vikings props, Kolbeck travelled to the Vikings set in Ireland to scan them on-location. Some of the items presented unique challenges due to their size, like full-sized swords, and even a couple of live creatures: a raven and a snake. Kolbeck used an iPad with an iSense 3D scanner to capture the props in 3D, which were later printed at 3D Brooklyn. Most of the 3D printed items were made on a MakerBot Replicator 2 and a couple of the smaller, finely detailed pieces were made in resin on a Form 2. Large items were designed to be printed in sections. The 3D printed bow from episode 14 was created in 8 sections that were strengthened by applying epoxy to the entire length and then it was wrapped in strips of cloth and leather to match the on-set prop.
Creating free model files and giving away 3D printed items is a pretty unique tie-in and I’m curious to see if other tv shows pick up on Vikings example. I hope that the History Channel continues this promotion for the upcoming season 6 of Vikings. I’ll certainly be downloading a few files myself, and in fact I already printed a ring for this season. Though the actual prop is made of brass, I only had metallic gold spray paint to finish it with. I think the end result came out pretty well. What do you think? Is there a particular item that you’re eager to print? What kind of items would you like to see for the next season of Vikings?
Below is a video of Kolbeck introducing the current season of Vikings and explaining how 3D Brooklyn created a noose for 3D Prophecy:
Discuss in the Vikings forum at 3DPB.com.