For those of us who own a 3D printer, I’ll bet almost everyone has at some time printed a Dalek, Yoda, baby Yoda, dragon or similar. And we have shown these off to others to convince them that our purchase of said printer was somehow worthwhile.
In my case, I initially purchased my Flashforge Adventurer 3 to print buildings etc for an HO model railway I have been slowly building over the years. My reasoning was that a genuine Hornby model – say a signaller’s hut – could cost around £40 whereas I can download a model for free and print it for cents.
And so I have – warehouses, factories, apartments railway platforms and buffers and other odds and sods that go to make up a scene in a model railway setup, saving hundreds of dollars in the process.
But I also found that my 3D printer could be used for other things.
Many filmmakers and editors will be familiar with Maxon Cinema 4D. It is right up there in the high echelon of 3D software used to create CGI in movies as well as build 3D scenes for shooting, saving untold amounts of money putting together the real thing.
I have been using Cinema 4D for over 20 years and whilst I will never say I am even close to being au fait with it, I can make it do what I want it to in most cases.
I doubt anyone – along with Adobe After Effects – could ever intimately know the full toolset of Cinema 4D.
In my tinkering I have made replacement door handles, played around with substitute propellers for my DJI Mini 2 and Air2S drones, designed a sunshield for my tablet when being used as a drone flying viewport, made toys for my 15 month old grandchild and much more.
And then I got to thinking. What could I use the Adventurer 3 for in the film and photographic world?
And the dam wall broke.
Without me designing a thing, I have found on a website called Thingiverse, all types of useful objects others have created and made available for download.
I have a mount for a GoPro (or any action cam using the ubiquitous GoPro twin finger mount) to go on a scuba mask, a pulley system using two 3D printed pieces and fishing line acting as a zip line to send a GoPro down, a mount for a DJI Pocket 2, various “shades” to go over LED lights to provide interesting shapes and shadows to lighting, a pair of mounts to hold a white card giving you an instant pseudo lightbox to get a neutral background or test white balance, a holder to keep AA and AAA batteries together inside my camera case, a phone stand, various brackets to secure cables and other things and much more.
There are also available stands to elevate such devices as the Loupedeck CT controller to a more comfortable level and I am sure anyone who had a little time to look around their studio / editing suite would find situations / devices that with a bit of time and patience a 3D printer could build and make easier or more comfortable to use or add some other convenience.
But you say, 3D printers are expensive.
Well yes, they used to be. When I purchased my Adventurer 3D 15 months ago it cost $899. B . (The Adventurer 3 by comparison allows models of 150mm x 150mm x 150mm). Different types of filaments can be used including PLA, PLA+ and ABS.
And it is only AUD$499 which is a bargain.
The only downside I have found so far in a small play is that while the printer stepper motors are quiet, the cooling fan is a tad noisy.
As an entry level unit, the Aquila X2 though is a great start. After you have exhausted its capabilities and learnt the nuances of 3D printing, you may then want to move up to something like the Creality CR-X giving you more filament types, speed and of course, a bigger build plate again.
For more flexibility, another option is the Snapmaker family that then also gives you CNC and engraving capabilities. Yet another, using resin to create models and therefore allowing much finer resolution – and favoured by those who relish in making miniatures for role playing – is the AnyCubic printer range.
All of these models can be seen at your local Jaycar store by the way, where in most cases, you’ll be able to see them running.
If you have other interests apart from printing gadgets and gizmos for filmmaking etc, then the aforementioned website www.thingiverse.com has literally millions of models to choose from. Some donators require a small fee for their models, but many are free.
If you want to have a go at modelling yourself, you can download a trial version of Maxon’s Cinema 4D (Mac and Windows) from www.maxon.net .