Australian electronic band Cut Copy paired with another creative group when it came time to create a video for the band's "We Are Explorers," off of last year's well-regarded album Free Your Mind— Tokyo- and New York-based creative lab/supergroup Party.
The result is a fun video in which a pair of little 3-D printed characters run around city streets at night, collecting disposable artifacts (cigarette butts, CDs, etc) that might have different value if you're just a couple of inches tall.
"The idea started with 'What if we 3-D printed a music video,'" co-director Aramique Krauthamer explains. "Both [co-director] Masa [Kawamura] and I have done different kinds of stop-motion, and we had been discussing the possibility of creating a narrative where every frame of movement was 3-D printed and shot in the street. When we heard 'We Are Explorers,' we immediately began imagining this story of tiny 3-D printed characters running through the streets of a major city on an epic journey."
The video's concept began with storyboards, and then the design of the two characters in Cinema4D by Mau Morgo. Technical director Qanta Shimizu then determined that the project would require "roughly 200 figurines," which were used in groups of eight, for each type of movement—that is, running sequences used eight figurines, looped, to create the effect. The figurines were printed with a yellow, UV-reactive filament, and shot at night under black light flashlights, lit by the project's DP, Sesse Lind.
The "how to" aspect of the video is important, because in addition to being an impressive creative project, it's also fully remixable: That is, the team worked directly with BitTorrent to distribute a bundle that contains the music, the video, and all the 3-D printing files, and encourages fans to re-create the process to tell, upload, and share their own stories.
"We hope people enjoy the film, the music, the figurines, and the process that went into making it," Kawamura says. "Hopefully people print the figurines, play with them, shoot them, make new storylines we didn't think of, take them to places we couldn't, and share whatever they do with everyone—so we can enjoy the process together."