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News . 3D Printing

10 Apr 2017

Stop-motion animation Emmy Award winner uses EnvisionTEC‘s 3D printing solutions to bring 3D digital designs to life.

From 3D printing as a hobby to professional-grade 3D printing, Emmy Award winner, Tommy Keiser has taken his digital design skills to the next level.


Tommy Keiser has branched out and started his own business, Keiser Design – based out of California.


Upon graduating from the University of the Arts animation program in 2006, Keiser moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in stop-motion animation.


“I knew I wanted to go into film,” said Keiser. “Hell and Back (an R rated comedy) was my first project using 3D printing, produced at Shadowmachine Animation.”


After his first major project, Keiser moved on to join Stoopid Buddy Stoodios where he created a new business unit (Stoodio Digital Design Department), he utilized 3D printing to produce 3D printed characters, sets, props and various types of animations.


“The Stoodio was a thriving animation house,” said Keiser. “As the director, I had the chance to turn any digital design into a real, physical object within a few hours. That opened up incredible possibilities. As I grew the department, I was able to show the team that 3D printing technology has no limits to what can be achieved.”


“That enabled us to produce more designs in shorter amounts of time with 3D design and 3D printing and we could do most of our conceptualization in 3D. This reduced the 2D design time. All the time we saved allowed us to incorporate more detail and more effective functionality with the printed models,” Keiser added.


Keiser went on to discuss the effects of introducing a new technology (3D printing) to the Stoodio.


“Stop-motion animation is an art form that has been around for a very long time,” Keiser said. “There’s of course a lot of traditional ways to produce stop-motion that has been done the same way for many years. So, when introducing a new technology that’s so disruptive into this field, it could of course lead to some hesitation.”


As director of Stoopid Buddy Stoodios Digital Design Department, Keiser led the design team into a new realm of technology – 3D technology. Soon after they started sculpting characters and all their different components, which were then printed out on 3D printers.


“At the Stoodio we had two high-resolution 3D printers,” Keiser said. “We had a large 3D printer we used in-house and it was an EnvisionTEC Perfactory 4XL. The Perfactory was able to print entire puppets, bodies and all.”


3D Printer Envisiontec Perfactory 4 Open


EnvisionTEC’s rapid 3D prototype manufacturing system.


EnvisionTEC’s Perfactory 4 XL, is a user-friendly rapid 3D prototype manufacturing system that produces the finest detail in the shortest period of time; creating 3D models that range from the conceptual to the fully functional.


“That’s one of the reasons I really enjoyed working with the Perfactory at the Stoodio,” said Keiser as he discussed printing accurate models and the high resolution of the prints. “3D printing is a great technology where you can create pretty much anything and then bring it to life on the screen.”


Keiser went on to discuss the decision to purchase a Perfactory from EnvisionTEC and how it changed the course of the Stoodio.


“I did my research and finally settled on the Perfactory 4XL,” said Keiser. “We were already outsourcing work to EnvisionTEC and thought it was a great idea to bring their high-precision DLP technology in-house and that one decision changed everything.”


EnvisionTEC’s Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology is a process where a vat of liquid photopolymer or resin is cured by a digital light source to build parts.


“We printed most of our parts using RC 31 high temperature resistant materials and ABS-flex material, which gave the puppets more flexibility without breaking,” said Keiser. “The 3D print materials worked out well for the Stoodio because of the flexibility of ABS-Flex, we didn’t have to worry too much about replacing broken parts on puppets.”


“If one of the puppets got damaged, EnvisionTEC 3D printers and materials made it easy to just upload the digital design and hit print,” Keiser added.


The renowned, award-winning Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, benefited greatly from utilizing a Perfactory 4 series 3D printer and many can see the accuracy of the models in their animated shows such as Robot Chicken, Super Mansion on Crackle, the puppeteered skits for XBox’s Madden 16, as well as the most recent Buddy Thunderstruck, slated for release on Netflix in 2017.


In his new role as a business owner of Keiser Design, Keiser finds himself overseeing a growing range of clients from numerous industries.


“From concept to functional prototype, I help my clients with a wide variety of projects including hardware product design, consumer products, and entertainment design,” said Keiser. “I recently teamed up with Chogrin, a well-known gallery curator and illustrator in the LA art scene, to bring a limited-edition collector’s item to life using 3D modeling and 3D printing.”


One of his clients, Chogrin, recieved a 3D model to pay tribute to the spinach poppin’ animated icon, Popeye the Sailor Man.


The final model is built using an additive manufacturing process called SLA printing, which is a liquid photopolymer resin cured layer-by-layer with an ultraviolet light.


“It marked the 85th anniversary and it was a project I couldn’t pass up,” said Keiser. “I remember watching it as a kid and I always enjoyed the cartoon. So it was like a moment of me reliving my childhood when I was working on the project.”


The design process from concept to final 3D product was highlighted on the King Features Syndicate Official Popeye Tribute Art Show. Keiser talked about the benefits of using an EnvisionTEC 3D printer, not only for the art show, but for many of his clients.


“We mainly use EnvisionTEC 3D printing solutions because of the high resolution and large build volume,” said Keiser. “During my design process with clients, the 3D printing technology provided by EnvisionTEC has really served as a useful tool when working with my clients.”


Utilizing 3D printing for upcoming stop-motion animation projects.


“I’ve been working on other projects that utilize 3D printing,” said Keiser. “Buddy Thunderstruck is one and it has a tactile quality to it with lots of engineering utilizing 3D printing to create the new puppet animated series.”


“I think Buddy Thunderstruck really speaks to the value of having an EnvisionTEC machine. It was our go-to 3D printer throughout the process because of the durability of the prints, accuracy and the materials perfect for finishing,” Keiser added.


Buddy Thunderstruck, slated for worldwide release on Netflix in 2017 is a stop-motion animated action-comedy, that follows the adventures of a semi-truck racing dog and his best friend ferret mechanic.


Always staying on-top of the latest 3D printing technology, Keiser educates his clients and speaks worldwide on the benefits of designing prototypes, models and more with 3D printing in mind.


“It’s great being able to teach others about my experiences with 3D printing and how it has benefited me over the years,” said Keiser. “People are surprised about all the things they can do with 3D printing and how it can save them time and money across the board.”


Keiser is scheduled to speak at Rapid 2017 to discuss 3D printing technology, why it’s important and how to design effectively with the technology.


“I am looking forward to speaking to the attendees about why I use the technology and why it benefits me and my clients and how it can positively change their business,” said Keiser. “3D printing’s uses range from practical objects for everyday use to commercial products, plus the technology holds promise for the future.”


“The quality of the products has also continued to improve. I am glad that I can be a part of speaking about the EnvisionTEC technology and how it has changed the way I do business with my clients,” Keiser added.


One thing for sure is that Keiser knows how to take digital passion and turn it into a thriving business.


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