The monsters keep dancing in my head is a study and exploration of a number of things - a study of the phenomenon of persistence of vision - the process that allows static images, played at a specific speed to take on animated qualities (for those more scientific purists - phi phenomenon and beta movement.)  It’s a first attempt for me at working with gears and the transfer of motion, and it’s a look into 3d printing technology and prototyping/manufacturing - allowing us to take the ideas in our head and massage them into existence - including the design, design improvement and prototyping processes.

In thinking on this project, I was struck by the thought that most 3d printing projects fall into (very generically speaking) one of two categories - either utilitarian (gears, replacement parts, fixes to an issue) or tchotchkes (reproducing pop items like your favorite star wars figurine, or 3d printing a vase or lampshade)  part of this is undoubtedly, that like all new technologies, until we figure out what we’re doing, we do what we know. I find in my situation, the one thing I want to do and cant, is prototype things - I'll have a great idea, but no feasible way to produce it or check its validity as a functional design.  This project - part tchotchke, part utilitarian - was designed to stretch not only my artist and design chops, but to stretch my prototyping/fabrication knowledge. The laws of physics, the available print area on desktop 3d printers, and over-all visual esthetics were central design considerations used when creating this project.

In its completed state "the Monsters" is a 3D persistence of motion sculpture, featuring a hand crank driven wheel with 12 three-dimensional sculptures mounted to it, each posed in a position that makes up 1/12th of a dance animation loop. The wheel is buried inside a 3D sculpture of my head, the model of which was created with 123D catch, then edited to support the internal wheel and drive mechanisms. To operate, a user turns the external crank - when the proper speed is reached (the equivalent of between 12 and 24 fps, depending on how smooth you want the animation to appear.) POV takes over and it stops looking like a spinning wheel, and becomes a dozen monsters dancing in place around on the surface of my head.

Step 1: Are You Sure You Know What You're Doing?

Step one, before getting too deep into creating materials, was to prove that this thing would even work.  After some investigation into POV, early cinematic "toys" and current film projection practices, I discovered 12 frames per second (FPS) is about the minimum rate one can move static images and pull off something that appears animated.  From a manufacturing point of view, I knew I wouldn’t want to have to print a million statues anyway, and, as there's limited real-estate on the rim of the wheel, the more statues, the smaller each would have to be, eventually killing the over-all readability of the effect.

To test feasibility of the 12 statue model, I created a simple test sequence in a 3D program.  Start in a drawing program like Illustrator and lay out a wheel with 12 equidistant spokes - these will mark the location for each of your statues.  To simplify the test, I made a series of 12 circles, each slightly different size  than the previous to stand in as my statues - the idea being that if the approach worked, I should see what looks like one circle growing (and shrinking) in size when the hub circle revolves at the correct speed. After placing the model circles in the appropriate spaces around the wheel, group the drawing and export as paths for your 3d software.

The import and trial of the wheel worked so well, I had to stamp an arrow shaped hole in the disk to make sure i was actually seeing the rotation.  While at it, I added a mat shaped like the outline of the human head to see a better simulation of what would happen if we focused the viewers attention by blocking out a number of the statues.

I would love to see a physical model of this, what a crazy concept :D <br>What software are you using to import your illustrator vectors into 3D?
Hey Tomdf <br> <br>Thanks - yeah, I'd like to see it completed too ;). Im still looking for the perfect monster model, and I need to do some reworking of the back and mounting parts of the model. <br> <br>Im using an Carrara Pro5 - as long as you save newer Illustrator files down to an older version, or export them as EPS files, it pulls them in quite well. I believe Daz3d will do it also, which I believe you can currently get for free off their website.

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Bio: Done lurking, time to create and share!
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