3D printing a film without film

Remember the days of VHS cassettes? While we may still refer to motion pictures as “films,” it is not too often that we see film anymore. With our mobile devices increasingly capable of producing high-res clips, movie theaters turning to digital projectors, and consumers watching Blue-Ray discs, it appears that “film” is well on its way to obsolescence.


This is what motivated French artist Julien Maire to take the idea of filmmaking to a whole new level, by replacing traditional film with 3D-printed stereolithographic projections. His  exhibit entitled «Relief» was created as part of his FabLab digital manufacturing residency at the iMAL Center for Digital Cultures and Technology in Brussels.


“Media Archaeology is a new science. It’s not studying the history of cinematograph and gramophone, but how our perception of the world is transformed through the camera lens and the speaker,” iMAL writes. “The audiovisual is like a soundtrack, a visual tracking shot moving in parallel to us; pictures and sound are visual fictions that moved away from reality, but disrupt and influence our relation to reality.”


Instead of film, Maire used 85 stereolithographic figurines that were 3D-printed from a series of devices, including an ATmega2560 powered Ultimaker, ATmega1280 based MakerBot Thing-o-Matic, and Formlabs Form 1 printers. Mimicking an old-school film reel from the early 20th century, each figure was made with different pose to create a motion projection that illustrates a man digging a hole.


These were then set on a moving belt several feet in front of a canvas with a light behind it in a fixed position. As the belt moves the figures past that position, each one becomes a still frame in the so-called film.


“In French, ‘3D cinema’ was also called ‘relief cinema’ (relief as in ‘relief map’ or ‘bas-relief’). The term went out of style when we were forced to admit that ‘relief cinema’ didn’t exist. ‘Relief’ evokes materiality, while ‘3D’ is commonly understood as a mathematical and computational concept. Through expanding and contracting pieces, and stereolithographic projections, Julien Maire’s installations indirectly address new technologies, media archaeology and manipulate fiction.”

While there may not be a video of his latest project just yet, you can still watch one of his earlier creations below!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s