3D Printing Bring Disney’s “Elemental” to Life for Film’s Premier


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As Disney and Pixar’s latest animated feature Elemental debuts today, the field of movie premieres experiences a technological transformation. Remarkably, the film’s characters have already made appearances at some of the world’s most prestigious film festivals, including Cannes, Tribeca, and Sydney, all thanks to the power of 3D printing.

In a first-of-its-kind endeavor, Gentle Giant Studios crafted life-sized replicas of Elemental’s two main characters at promotional events worldwide. Disney fans now have a chance for a unique photo-op with life-sized models of Wade Ripple, a sappy water element, and Ember Lumen, a quick-witted fire element, first prototyped with Nexa3D’s 3D printers before blown up with traditional crafting techniques. The creation of these models serves as an impressive showcase of how cutting-edge technology can revolutionize the world of entertainment, making animated characters seem just a little bit closer to reality.

Promotional models of Disney’s Elemental‘s animated characters, Wade and Ember, first prototyped with 3D printing. Image courtesy of Gentle Giant Studios.

The Magic Behind the Scenes

Gentle Giant Studios, an industry pioneer with over two decades of experience in entertainment and technology, led the initiative to bring the characters of the film to life. The challenge? To deliver high-quality, intricate, life-sized models of Wade and Ember in time for the movie’s premiere.

The company rose to the challenge with the aid of Nexa3D’s XiP Desktop 3D printer, a machine renowned for its lightning-fast printing speed and high-performance capabilities. The use of Nexa3D’s advanced printer allowed Gentle Giant to go from design concept to prototype within an astonishing two-day period, fulfilling Disney’s stringent deadlines. These final prototypes paved the way for the traditional crafting of the life-size models displayed at the movie’s premier events.

The creative teams behind Elemental’s life-sized photo-op used Nexa3D’s xMODEL17-Clear resin, a durable and transparent modeling material, to capture intricate details and to emulate the visual effects of fire and water present in the characters. The prototypes demonstrated the enormous potential of 3D printing technology in the entertainment industry.

Reflecting on this joint venture, Nina Swienton, Nexa3D’s Chief Marketing Officer, stated how artists and designers persistently strive to bring their creative visions to life. She emphasized that advanced technologies such as 3D printing have decreased the gap between concept and creation, yielding extraordinary results.

Gentle Giant Studios’ Director of Additive Manufacturing, Jason Lopes, praised the efficiency of the XiP Desktop 3D printer. According to him, it was instrumental in fulfilling the demanding project timelines that required intricate painting and lighting effects – something unachievable by any other means.

Nexa3D’s XiP Desktop 3D printer creates Disney’s Elemental characters. Image courtesy of Gentle Giant Studios.

The technological wizardry that turned Disney Pixar’s Elemental characters into life-sized models is transforming the film industry. This project is a great example of a growing synergy between entertainment and technology, with plenty of possibilities for movie premieres in the future. With the premiere of Elemental, there is a glimpse into the future of film promotion, with characters that transcend the screen thanks to 3D printing.

Creating Disney’s Elemental animated characters Ember. Image courtesy of Gentle Giant Studios.

Venturing Beyond Animation

This exciting endeavor is far from Gentle Giant Studios’ first foray into breathing life into fan-favorite film characters. The company has an outstanding track record. One of Gentle Giant Studios’ most impressive accomplishments includes the fire-breathing white dragon perched atop Gringott’s Bank in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. A testament to the company’s skill and creativity, this spectacle allows fans to step directly into the magical world of Harry Potter.

Gentle Giant Studios’ fire-breathing white dragon perched atop Gringott’s Bank in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. Image courtesy of Vanesa Listek/3DPrint.com

Beyond the realm of Potter, Gentle Giant Studios has also made significant contributions to the Star Wars universe, serving as a vital partner in visual effects, product development, and visual development prototyping for the hit series The Mandalorian.

A scene of “The Mandalorian” being filmed at ILM’s “The Volume” filmmaking environment with 3D printed props from Gentle Giant Studios. Image courtesy of Gentle Giant Studios.

New Era for The Entertainment Industry?

Despite Disney Pixar’s Elemental trailers captivating audiences with their stunning animation and the film receiving a six-and-a-half-minute standing ovation at Cannes in late May, there is a noticeable cloud of skepticism among critics and general audiences. This stems from Disney’s recent stumbles at the box office, with 2022 releases like Lightyear and Strange World underperforming in what can only be described as a surprising twist for the entertainment giant. According to a report by Deadline, these films led Disney to sustain losses exceeding $300 million. While they later found success on the streaming platform Disney+, their initial box office performances, unfortunately, make the list of Disney’s missteps.

With Pixar’s stellar reputation as the powerhouse behind beloved films like Toy Story and Coco, this new era of uncertainty presents significant challenges. Following in the footsteps of such cherished hits is no easy task, and the pressure is on for all of Pixar’s future projects. As Elemental prepares to take its turn in the limelight, Disney and Pixar are undoubtedly hoping to recapture the magic that has made them a titan in the world of animation. 3D printing is certainly chiming in to merge technology with imaginative storytelling. Whatever the box office outcome of Elemental may be, one thing is for sure, after this collaboration, we can anticipate other enchanting creations coming up.

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