When you have the great Irish painter Francis Bacon, hot Hollywood director José Padilha and renowned designer Martin Whist working on the same film project, you know the stakes must be high indeed.
The stakes are very high for the team taking on the remake of Paul Verhoeven's ultraviolent and satirical 1987 classic, Robocop.
You might well ask (as many people have recently), why would any filmmaker take on a remake of a movie which is impossible to improve? And once you've made that decision, where do you go from there?
First, it was unavoidable that the filmmakers had to address the design of the visual effects, and Padilha turned to Whist and 3D printing technology to give a contemporary feel to what was, at the time, a forward-looking foray into sci-fi film art.
And that began with Francis Bacon. Bacon, who shuffled off this mortal coil in 1992, was consulted early in the development of the latest Robocop project to lend the proper sense of visual claustrophobia to the look of a man-machine trapped inside a nightmare. Like the figures in Bacon paintings, the look of Padilha's Robocop, a victim of corporate machinations, needed to express the disconnect modern man feels from his environment.
Once the look and feel was settled, Whist and his team began 3D modeling a pair of suits which were output via high-definition EnvisionTEC Perfactory 3D printers.
Film legends Legacy Effects took over to paint and assemble the finished product. Whist, along with a team at Legacy Effects, then set to work on the fine details, and those details were in good hands – the company built the suits for Iron Man, Pacific Rim and a long list of other films which require over-the-top and realistic, functional effects.
Without 3D printing, most of the outcome would have been difficult and expensive, if not impossible, to create.
"It's changed our world," Whist says. "It's mostly done through printing, that's why it's so important to get the 3D files absolutely perfect. There isn't another interpretation – no sculpting process or making casts anymore – we output the 3D files (direct to a printer)."