Introduction: The Monsters Keep Dancing in My Head...
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?
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.
Step 2: Time to Start Laying Out the Prototype Parts!
Step 3: Modeling the Statues
Step 4: Modeling My HEAD!!!!!
In the process of creating two previous Instructables - https://www.instructables.com/id/Cool-AutomataFaux-Steampunk-inspired-CD-Case/ and https://www.instructables.com/id/123D-Make-inspired-Acrylic-Lamp-Mashup/ I discovered Autodesk’s suite of 123d products - all of which are free. If you haven’t looked at them yet - you should they are crazy good for the price. For this Instructable, I decided to take a shot at using 123D catch - a software package that stitches together multiple photos of an object to create an actual 3d model
It took three passes to get a good model, mostly because we made some incorrect assumptions about what part of the picture the software keys off of to build its dimensions. Attempt number three did the trick, mostly (it did some weird things to my nose, hair and chin) but we ended up with a useable model :) I exported the model from 123D catch as an obj file and imported into my 3D modeling program for editing
I also took the key frontal face photo used to develop the model and imported it into Illustrator to layout the internal structure to connect the wheel apparatus, crank, etc., to the model of the head.
Step 5: The Final (almost) Unveiling
There are still a number of Items I'd like to clean up and refine:
First I still haven’t decided what actual monster model I want to use. I've also been kicking around the idea of changing the name to "the robots keep running through my head" or "the aliens are stealing my brain" and using an alien or robot model instead.
Second, the back of the sculpture needs additional shrouding to hide some of the mechanics, and a base plate and leg extensions to attach the gear support frame to the bottom of the head model to tie the unit together, and provide stability.
The original concept of having animated eyes showing through the open eye sockets (attaching photos of my eyes in different "poses" then adhering them to the circular shaped lock keys half way up the spokes so as the wheel is cranked, it looks like my eyes are following the monsters) was scrapped - the photos of the eye would set too far back inside the head model to be visible from any angle other than straight on.
Early on, the choice was made to not have the hand crank coming out of my mouth - now that it lines up with my nostrils, the mouth isn’t looking like such a bad option...
Lastly, the shell of the head model would need to be sectioned - or printed on a rather large printer. A center seam down the face, then fusing the red and green backer plates - one to either half - would probably be the best approach for holding the full item together.