Q & A: Managing Director Ralph Talks Special Effects and 3D Printing

From the opera Orphee at Eurdyice

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for – after waiting for what seems like the time it would take to travel through intergalactic space and back, the next segment in the Star Wars saga has been released!

As our Managing Director Ralph McNeill works with special effects when he’s not immersed in the world of 3D design and printing – we got to thinking about how additive manufacturing is changing the industry. Our Social Media Manager Kathleen Coyle did a quick interview with Ralph to find out more:

KC: When did you first start working with special effects?

RM: I started in 1987. I wanted to pursue a job in television and film that dealt with special effects, as I come from a design background. My first job in the area was model making for Starcops, and later adverts for television.

KC: How much do you think 3D printing and 3d design are changing the special effects industry? I read that it is especially important to have realistic models at hand for the horror genre for example.

RM: 3D printing is definitely changing special effects and how they are used. For example, 3D models could be used for a car crash sequence. At the 3Dprint Show in London last year the Stratasys iron man suits were also a focal point. I suppose that’s more props than special effects, but it shows how 3D printing is leaking into the film industry more and more.

KC: What are some interesting projects you have worked on with special effects?

RM: I worked on London’s Burning for ten years. I was involved in the end sequence for the Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies and I do about two to three special effects projects a year.

The most recent example was Orphee at Eurydice at the Royal Opera House in London. We worked on the figurine shown in the photograph, which resembles a person burning down into ashes.

KC: Didn’t you do an opera in Madrid a few years ago too?

RM: The opera was Les Troyens, and we were involved with the special effects for the Trojan horse. Opera is interesting because they are all based on the classics, so you see different versions of them all the time.

KC: Which means endless endless opportunity for renewal…

RM: Exactly.

With that said, I look forward to the day when we can perhaps marry our love of 3D printing with special effects. Now we’re off to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  May the force be with you!