Australian indie band Cut Copy's sound has always been a little bit on the cutting edge, and now their look is too, thanks to the video for their latest single, "We Are Explorers."
The four minute stop-motion movie set to the band's signature techno music features two tiny 3D printed figures, a man and a woman, making their way across Los Angeles at night. Along the way they collect bits and pieces of refuse to use in building a boat in which they sail away at the end of the story.
"I wanted to 3D print every frame of stop-motion to experiment with a new technique of filmmaking," said Aramique Krauthamer, who directed the video along with Masa Kawamura, Qanta Shimizu for the Tokyo-based PARTY. "The fact that the song was called 'We Are Explorers' seemed like a perfect fit for 3D printed characters exploring the physical world."
The 2-inch characters were printed in safety yellow-colored ABS, according to Chris Thompson, who printed about a third of the figures at NextFab Studio in Philadelphia.
"We chose a material that was very reflective," Thompson said. "The producers wanted something that was UV reflective."
The glowing aura seen around the figures in the video was created by shining a black light on them.
"In some ways it was a proof of concept," Krauthamer said. "If I had another two months to work on it, there are many other things I would try and hope to revisit the technique in the future. I hope other people try to push the boundaries of what we started and do things we didn't think of."
There were actually 200 figures printed for the video on a Stratasys 1200es. Morpheus Prototypes in LA printed the figures Thompson didn't in order to save time.
Thompson printed 24 of the figurines on a bed at time, but there was some confusion about everything that goes into the 3D printing process or how much time it takes.
"There was a lot more preparations than they expected," Thompson said.
The video was shot in loops of eight, meaning it took eight figures per movement as the two wanderers dodge traffic and overcome obstacles like mailboxes on their way to the ocean.
However, the best part of it all may be that PARTY released all of the materials related to the video, including story boards and the figures' STL files, for free on BitTorrent.
"I wanted to hand over every frame to the public and give them the opportunity to re-imagine the story," Krauthamer said. "I believe in open-source projects and the power of giving things for free to the public."