Film studios are turning to special effects companies with 3D printers for quick turnarounds of detailed outfits.
Movie props and costumes are getting more elaborate and intricate because of an unlikely new character in Hollywood – the 3D printer.
Film studios are increasingly turning to special effects companies with 3D printers so that outfits can be created more quickly and with some impressive detail.
The process isn’t cheap – but there’s less of a need for actors to stand around nearly naked in plaster casts anymore.
Grant Pearmain, director at FB FX, told Sky News the design process has been revolutionised by the technology.
He said: “A 3D printer can make something that a normal person just can’t physically make, by the way it prints, kind of overlaps and underlaps.”
Among the many blockbuster movie pieces co-designed by Mr Pearmain’s company is the helmet worn by actor Chris Pratt when he starred as Star Lord in Guardians Of The Galaxy.
It was printed ready to wear straight away.
The A-lister’s co-star Djimon Hounsou – who played the baddie Korath – also received the 3D printer treatment.
Mr Pearmain added: “The designer wanted a look on that film of a kind of armour that you just wouldn’t traditionally be able to make – it would be really impossible to do.
“We worked quite hard to create 3D-printed parts that were strong enough that that entire costume could be built that way.”
Parts of Christian Bale’s helmet and armour, as he played Moses in Exodus: Gods And Kings, were also 3D printed.
Gary Miller, head of 3D printing facility IPF, told Sky News: “It’s got to the stage now where if you don’t have access to this technology you’re kind of working with one arm tied behind your back.
“It’s so fast. We’re printing in the evening on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and supplying the studios on Monday morning to go fitting straight onto the actors.”
The method also means special visual effects designers in the UK can send over prototypes to US studios for approval more quickly.
However, 3D printing has been criticised for being expensive. There have been rumblings over potential job losses too.
Technician Jack Rothwell operates a digital 3D body scanner for actors at Shepperton Studios.
He said: “I think there are fears, I think especially for people who haven’t grown up with computers who are traditional model makers … it’s a struggle to incorporate this into their work flow.”
However, film journalist Tom Butler, told us the situation may balance itself out in the long run.
“You will always need a skilled engineer at the front end to design the thing in the first place.”
And as the cost drops and the tech improves further, there are high hopes for the future.
He added: “I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to think that in the future Star Wars films the storm troopers will be wearing 3D-printed costumes.”