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Bodock the giant 3D printed creature: legacy effect's giant creature, weighs 2,000 pounds, is 10 feet wide, and stands nearly 14 feet tall.

Stratasys, a manufacturer of 3D printing equipment and materials, teamed up with the Stan Winston School of Character Arts, Legacy Effects, WIRED, and Conde Nast Entertainment to design, prototype, and manufacture a 14-foot tall creature to debut at Comic-Con International in San Diego last July.

The entire process was filmed by a crew from the Stan Winston School, and turned into a digital series called "How to Make a Giant Creature" for the WIRED channel.

"The whole point of it was to take something to the Mecca of cosplay and geek culture that would blow people's minds," explains Matt Winston, Stan Winston School Co-Founder. "The other side of it was a celebration of practical effects and making real

things in general." .

Last year, the team created a partially 3D-printed giant robot to bring to Comic-Con. However, this year the group of artists and engineers wanted to create something larger and with more 3D-printed parts.

"We didn't want to repeat ourselves and just create another robot," adds Winston. So we discussed bringing a more organic character."

The artists gathered at the Legacy Effects studio in San Fernando, CA, and presented a variety of designs for review. After careful evaluation, Legacy Effects Co-Founder Alan Scott's idea was chosen due to its size and visceral nature.

The design encompassed two characters.The main character, Bodock the Giant Creature, was envisioned to be 2,000 pounds, nearly 14 feet tall, and 10 feet wide.The second character, Ja'naar, was designed as a small, remote-controlled alien to sit on Bodock's back.

The team of engineers also had to ensure the safety and movability of the creature before the 3D printing and creation process could even begin. "If it was not able to support thousands and thousands of pounds, this thing would buckle, crash, and kill somebody," explains Stan Winston School Co-Founder Erich Grey Litoff. "We needed to get the weight distribution right."


The team of artists and engineers at Legacy Effects--the studio that created three-dimensional characters for Iron Man, Avatar, Pacific Rim, and RoboCop--had only two weeks to design the giant creature and about six weeks to build it.

After digitally sculpting and animating the creature in ZBrush and Autodesk Maya software, Legacy Effects' team of engineers wanted to ensure its movability and stability.

"You want to make sure it's going to work before you commit to the full scale build," says Winston. "So the folks at Legacy Effects created a very quick and dirty steel frame to test the viability of the concept of putting four people inside the suit.They built this very simple rig, rolled it around in the parking lot, and from there saw that it was possible."

Building the Giant Creature

Legacy Effects has used 3D printing technology in some of their shops, but never to this extreme. Therefore Jason Lopes, lead systems engineer at the studio, immediately contacted Stratasys to join the project as a partner.

"We said absolutely. We'd love to partner with them," explains Leslie Frost, marketing communication manager at Stratasys. "But I don't think anyone knew the scale it was going to be."

When Stratasys received the 3D design files from Legacy Effects, the company had to process them, clean them up, and break them down into smaller pieces.

They used an array of 3D printers for the project, including their largest printer, the Fortus 900mc, which uses fused deposition modeling (FDM) and has a build size of 36 x 24 x 36 inches. All the pieces were created using the very lightweight ABS-M30 thermoplastic material, including the giant creature's chest and right shoulder, right arm, and fingers that were printed in dozens of pieces.

"Remarkably, the giant creature is about 35 percent 3D printed," says Winston. "All of the hard surfaces you see on the character were printed by Stratasys and then cleaned up and painted by the artists at Legacy Effects." Overall, the entire printing process took about 3,500 to 4,000 hours.

In addition to 3D-printed parts, the creature is made of a steel understructure and mechanical skeleton, L-200 foam, spandex, fiberglass, aluminum, foam latex, rubber, and plenty of faux fur.

"We're excited to continue to work with Stratasys," adds Grey Litoff. "They stepped up and shortened the process by having this technology at our fingertips, because the clock was ticking."

Bodock Comes Alive

The giant creature was brought to life through a combination of techniques. It took nine puppeteers to operate Bodock--four on the inside and five outside the character. The arm and head movements were all supplied by puppeteers inside the creature.

In addition, radio-controlled animatronics powered movements of the face--the blinking, nostril flaring, and mouth opening and closing, and the entire structure moved forward using two wheelchair motors.

"The biggest challenge to operating this guy was the size," says Winston. "We were dealing with a 2,000 pound puppet that had to perform in real time, and we didn't have the ability to run those giant moves with hydraulics."

After 7,500 hours of work, Bodock was finally ready to make his first television appearance. He was unveiled at the Jimmy Kimmel show just hours after completion, and then boxed up for his public debut at San Diego Comic-Con the following day.

A crowd immediately started to gather as the team systematically pieced together their creation on a side street adjacent of the convention center. After an hour of assembly, the creature started to talk and walk. The team's six weeks of hard work had paid off.

"It was amazing, feel like a kid again," explains Grey Litoff. "It's 90 degrees out there, and then he blows snot water out of his nose and everybody freaks out. It gets us all excited about creating and having fun."

The team of artists and engineers at the

Stan Winston School and Legacy Effects hopes to continue the tradition next year.

"One of our primary goals with the Stan Winston School, and also for Legacy Effects, is to celebrate the art of creating real creatures," says Winston. "What better way to do that than to literally create a creature and bring it to the greatest platform for scifi and fantasy in the world.This is our second year, and hopefully there will be many more."

By Kaylie Duffy, Associate Editor
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Title Annotation:Engineering Answers: 3D PRINTING
Author:Duffy, Kaylie
Publication:Product Design & Development
Date:Oct 1, 2014
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