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In a move that must send shivers through many a forgotten peon of the passion-industrial complex that is the Hollywood effects business, a fan of HBO’s Game of Thrones has poured over the show’s introductory sequence and pulled from its imagery a 3D-printable model of the city of Winterfell. Fans of the show, or the books on which it is based, will be excited to see the city in person – though at under 10 square inches in size, it’s unlikely to blow any minds through sheer scale. The freely available model comes in two levels of detail – one with doors and windows, and one without – and could be easily scaled up if desired.
Most city-building stories these days come out of Minecraft, a game where you build designs using discreet units that naturally lend themselves to 3D printing. Already there are efforts to automate the process of printing Minecraft creations, either as a paid service or a DIY algorithm for home printers. Just select the world area you wish to print (or print the whole world if you’re feeling ambitious) and export it to your 3D printer, or to a professional fabricator.
Physical printing of digital movie effects is an odd reversal of the traditional workflow, which saw physical models scanned into a computer for use as background effects/imagery. Some hybrid of the two approaches could result from this sort of work. For example, a modeller creates and prints a rough outline onto which an artist carves the finer details before scanning back into digital form.
Whether it’s a city planner looking to mock up a new plaza or a general looking to familiarize commanders with the layout of an enemy encampment, the ability to quickly turn digital images into physical schematics is getting more popular as it gets cheaper.