Printing film, Master of Design student’s innovative use of voxel printing

When looking at the methods used to capture and store film footage Master of Design Innovation student Joseph wanted to link the digital world with the physical. He came up with the idea of 3D printing film footage using voxel printing. Voxels are a like a pixel, but with the added dimension of depth compared to a 2D pixel.

A hand holds a see-through cube with red liquid

The resulting 3D print is composed of several hundred layers of exported film frames stacked upon each other which captures the movement of the footage.

“The Project came around as I was interested in taking digital data and printing it in the physical world. Before I had tried to do this with STL printing and it didn’t work, however with voxel printing I realised I could 3D print a photo, and from there a series of photos, or a film (if you export the frames). I went with a movie as I was inspired by a quote from a YouTube video of Es Devlin who said “give me a film without a screen”. It took some trial and error, but in the end I found a process that was easy to voxel print, with the primary software being Photoshop.”

To create the print, Joseph recorded footage of himself getting his portrait taken, the film was then changed to black and white, with magenta added to better show the details in the physical print. He then exported every 30th or so frame out of 32 seconds of footage (more frames means more costs due to build height). The frames were combines into a collection of PNG images which were printed stacked, from last to first frame resulting in the final printed block.

Joseph’s research focuses on 3D printing, 4D printing and now voxel printing. He particularly enjoys the access to technology that Victoria University of Wellington provides. “The new technology available gives students the potential to design and create something totally new and enables a huge amount of creativity and exploration. The Bachelor of Design Innovation has given me a range of skills and exposed me to ideas and ways of thinking that I would have previously thought near impossible to achieve.”

His advice to anyone thinking about studying Design Innovation, “this course is challenging, but you’ll gain some great friends, and have the opportunity to branch off into other amazing topics, all of which have real world applications.”

Joseph will continue his research into voxel printing with his Master’s, and his research will be aimed at the use of this technology in the special effects industry.