AMS Spring 2023

12 Foot Long 3D Printed Spacecraft From the Film ‘Interstellar’ is on Display at London’s BFI IMAX Cinema

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int3Promising to be one of this year’s biggest hits, the science-fiction adventure film, Interstellar, directed by Christopher Nolan, premiered on October 26 and opened in North America earlier this week. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Caine, the film has received rave reviews in the early going.

In this movie, as our time on earth begins to fade, the most important mission ever is about to be undertaken, thanks to a team of explorers looking to save humanity and everything it stands for. To do so, they need to travel outside our own galaxy in order to find a future for mankind. What will get them there? Three different space vehicles, a mothership called the Endurance, the Ranger, capable of entering the atmospheres of distant planets, and finally the Lander, which is responsible for transporting passengers to the surface of another planet.

The Partially 3D Printed, 12 Foot Long Model of the Ranger Spacecraft

The Partially 3D Printed, 12 Foot Long Model of the Ranger Spacecraft

All three ships in the movie were created with the help of 3D printing in some way or another. Instead of using pure CGI effects, Christopher Nolan decided that the best way to truly provide a realistic film experience was to rely on miniature versions of the spacecraft for filming, relying on Nathan Crowley in collaboration with New Deal Studios. When we say ‘miniature’, that term is rather misleading, as one Ranger spacecraft model had a length of 46 feet and was large enough for an IMAX Camera to be mounted inside, allowing the filming of incredibly realistic action shots. This was just one of the many larger produced models of this craft.

Ranger Spacecraft Pictured in Foreground.

Ranger Spacecraft Pictured in Foreground.

As the film now opens in IMAX at the BFI IMAX in London, one very special prop from the movie will be on hand. A 1:15 scaled model of the Ranger spacecraft, measuring 12 feet in length and primarily 3D printed, will be on display at London’s biggest screen cinema, in the lobby at BFI IMAX.

Cowley and his team, along with New Deal Studios, relied heavily on the use of sophisticated 3D printers to produce extremely precise details and ensure that this miniature (often referred to as a ‘maxature’ on the set because of its staggeringly large size) would match up nearly perfectly to the actual ship. It was very important to the team that the texture of the miniature version of the spacecraft would look exact to that of its full-sized version, when placed in front of various spacescapes used for filming. Thanks to the intricacies made possible by 3D printing, the film’s effects turned out quite amazing.

For those in the London area who wish to check out this ‘maxature’ used within the film, they can do so from now until November 17. Let us know if you have seen this scaled down version of the Ranger spacecraft in person, as well as your opinion of Interstellar. Discuss in the 3D printed Interstellar Spacecraft forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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