At BJB Creative, Brett Beacham is printing iconic props for the silver screen. How does a 3D model make its way into the next blockbuster hit?
When you're sitting in the theatre watching Thor: Ragnarok, pay close attention to his hammer, Mjolnir. The mighty weapon you see on screen came from the skilled hands of Brett Beacham, director of BJB Creative.
Brett has over 25 years of experience all across the film industry, but much of his current work is with prop fabrication at BJB Creative. Located on Queensland's Gold Coast, the company services clients across Australia and the world, bringing enthusiasm and professionalism to jobs of all sizes. In recent years, it's produced props for the Marvel cinematic universe and other blockbuster hits.
What really makes props from BJB Creative stand out from the crowd, however, is that they're made on a 3D printer. Brett recently sat down for an interview with Redstack to discuss how 3D printing is changing the world of prop fabrication.
Why 3D print props?
In prop departments, Brett explained, a 3D model is often the blueprint for most projects. Fabricating those props with a 3D printer makes for a far more efficient process, as models can go straight to the printer. Considering how multiple versions of a prop are used during filming, this saves a tremendous amount of time.
"When we make a prop, it's never just a one-off; there's always multiples like soft, lightweight and hero props," said Brett.
"What we've brought into the workshop is the workflow of 3D printing. We print the original, make a mould and then produce all those various iterations."
One of the biggest advantages to 3D printing is its impact on the budget. From that perspective, Brett notes, 3D printing a piece is far more efficient than having it hand manufactured.
"That saves a lot of money and a lot of time," he said.
See below some of the work by BJB creative on the creation of Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor:
The new tools of the trade
When using a 3D printing for props, so much depends on the machines themselves. Previously, Brett used filament-based MakerBot and CreatorBot printers. Unfortunately, they just weren't meeting expectations with resolution and detail needed for hero props.
"So I bought a Form 2, and it was absolutely brilliant," Brett said.
"Since then, I've bought two more, and those things are just going all day and all night. There have been some fairly iconic props that were produced specifically on the Form 2."
The Form 2 from Formlabs is an SLA printer, which are generally slower than filament-based machines. Despite this, Brett still finds the Form 2 more efficient.
"Printing might take a little bit longer on the Form 2, but what comes off the machine, you just sand off the support, put some buttons in and it's perfect. In the long run, it's actually a quicker way to do it."
For best results, buy local
Brett has been 3D printing props for a while, but it's only recently that he's been getting his equipment from Redstack. This move, he explained, makes his work much easier.
"On films, everything's on a deadline, and prior to Redstack, I was ordering my resin directly from Formlabs in the States. It could show up in a week or it could show up in three weeks. For filming, that was not ideal."
That all changed when Brett found Redstack.
"I was so excited because I could order the resin, and it could be here in a couple of days as opposed to weeks. From now on, all my ordering for resin and printers, I'll be doing from Redstack," he said.
"In the film business, everything we want, we want it now - or, even better, yesterday. They've been very accommodating and helping us get the product as soon as possible."
As a satisfied customer, Brett was happy to answer one of our most pressing questions about 3D printing props for the Marvel universe: Is the Form 2 worthy of the power of Thor? Can it lift Mjolnir?
Brett just laughed and said, "Absolutely it can."