Aaron Sims Creative: creators of the Stranger Things Demogorgon
We interviewed Aaron Sims Creative, who 3D printed the Demogorgon used in the filming of Netflix’s Stranger Things. The creative studio employ a variety of methods in creating their characters for TV and films. We asked them about how they got into 3D printing, its applications, and the process of creating the Demogorgon.
3DN: Can you introduce yourself and your design studio?
We are a concept design and visual effects studio that specializes in character and world building for film, TV, digital and beyond. Our unique ‘Sketch to Screen’ workflow, as we like to call it, allows us to work collaboratively with filmmakers from the very beginning of project development and visualization to help bring their vision to life through designs, storyboards, animatics, previsualization, visual effects… and most recently 3D rapid prototyping.
3DN: What is your link with 3D printing?
This is a relatively new and increasingly valued aspect of our workflow, allowing us to bring otherwise digital 2D designs and models to life in physical form. It began with our first print of the Demogorgon, which we designed for the Duffer Brothers for Stranger Things. Once a few clients got a glimpse of this imposing, hand-painted 3D model they immediately began requesting similar 3D prints for their own characters and projects. We believe it is an essential part of the visualization process and we’ll continue to explore the boundaries of where this medium can help us in our creative process.
3DN: Can you tell us more about designing the Demogorgon for Stranger Things?
Our typical timeline of creature design and asset development can take many weeks, depending on the complexity of the project. We start with pencil sketches, we model in Zbrush, asset creation in maya, and render in Vray. From there we are essentially set-up to take any and all of our assets to print. The 3D print itself can be completed in a matter of days and then we like to hand-paint these which will vary depending on the textural qualities we are aiming for. The Demogorgon, for instance, has this almost translucent and moist skin layer that we tried to replicate with a series of colors and clear coats.
The largest Demogorgon print that we have executed stands at approximately twenty inches high and is comprised of about 20 individual printed pieces. Each of which required precise design and engineering to connect in the final assembly, as our current printers could only output a maximum format.
We have four FormLabs printers in-house which have been fabulous to work with and the support team at FormLabs have been amazing collaborators as we try to push the limitations of what these machines can achieve.
3DN: Why did you turn to 3D printing? What were the biggest challenges you had to face in the printing of the creature?
Seeing something physically answers questions that you can’t always answer in 2D. It truly brings our designs and assets to life in a way we haven’t seen in quite some time – since hand sculpted maquettes were the industry standard back in the ‘practical effects’. The biggest challenges for us has been the capacity of the printers, as we oftentimes try to print larger creatures and in some cases entire key scenes. Printing in small pieces and engineering them to work together takes some trial and error to ensure everything fits seamlessly.
3DN: How do you see the future of 3D printing in the movie industry?
We feel it has reprised a traditional technique once used in practical creature design and modeling in a more cost and time efficient manner. We can now do what used to take months to sculpt by hand, in days.
To learn more, visit the official Aaron Sims Creative website or watch the making of below:
You can check out Aaron Sims Creative’s website here.