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Chase Me: An animated film produced with the help of 3D printing technology that embraces fears and turns them into beauty

The Beginning of the 3D Printed Animated Adventure

Chase Me was the first film recorded entirely with the use of 3D printing, which was produced by Gilles-Alexandre. He has always been fascinated by the mix between 3D and other media. His passion for 3D printing began with the release of the film Coraline in 2009 by Laika studio. All facial expressions were made using a 3D printer. The idea of producing a short animated film then germinates. Chase Me begins with a girl walking through a magical forest. During her stroll, her shadow evolves into a monster who chases her through the woods.

“Chase Me is a story about embracing your fears, and turning them into something beautiful.”– Gilles-Alexandre Deschaud – 3D Artist & Director.

The Making Of

He started producing the film without really knowing if it was feasible, thinking that he would find the solutions along the way. This was the case of some of the parts that had to be printed, such as the growing tree that you can see below, which had to be specially designed to be printable. 

All the leaves were placed not at the end of the thinnest branches, but grouped together on the secondary branches. It also took several attempts back with the 3D printer because the size of the branches was too thin. The trunk was also separated from the rest so that it was printed without problems. 

All the frames of the film were first designed by the artist in CG, before being processed into 3D prints. The setting of the scene was then recreated through stop-motion animation (15 frames per second) to produce the film’s final result.

The sets were also produced in CG and then printed in 3D. 

Some of the parts were close to 1.5m long. To be able to print them, he had to cut the set into several parts and then assemble & glue them. The tree, for example, required 22 different parts.

When it comes to the characters, great care was taken in order to choose the size of them. For example the height of the girl varied on average from less than 1 to 3 cm depending on the shot.

About the Film

It may seem trivial, but the 2,500 parts needed to make the film took 10 months to produce. And the size greatly affects the printing time. For close-ups the girl could measure up to 7 cm. Which is ultimately quite small knowing that for a classic stop motion film, the characters measure around 20 cm.

This fairly small size was a challenge to find the desired framing with the camera. For this, Gilles -Alexandre used several fixed lenses and especially two macro lenses.

To achieve satisfactory quality despite such a small size, the artist used resin-based SLA technology. In order to save time, Gilles-Alexandre also printed a walk cycle for the girl of 20 pieces that could be used on several shots. 

To best match the movement already defined in 3D, Gilles-Alexandre prepared for each figurine, a support and a corresponding hole on the set. 

He also took care to number each piece according to it’s frame number in order to not make any mistakes. The preparation time for each part took him about 20 min, but multiplied by 2,500, the preparation of all the pieces for the printer took 3 months.

In the film there is also a shot where a ball “explodes” and fills everything with colors. To achieve the desired result, he hand painted the 300 pieces that make up this shot.

Currently, Gilles-Alexandre is working on a new short film which will be completely different from Chase Me, both in the story and the technique used. He is still going to base it on CG as he love to do on his projects, and it’s going to look like an animated painting.