Geo Week News

February 17, 2012

3D scanning and printing hits the world of comedy

Before today, I had never heard of Jeff Dunham. You might think this strange, considering that by many accounts he’s the most popular comedian alive, but I’m also not much of a fan of comedy in general, so that whole industry is decidedly off my radar (no – I don’t like comedies. I find them off-putting, in large part – it’s strange, get over it). But when a comedian starts to dabble in laser scanning and 3D printing, my ears perk up. 

And that’s just what Jeff Dunham is doing. Today I was alerted that during Jeff’s Biography Channel two-hour special, which is apparently the highest-rated biography they’ve ever aired (this makes no sense to me, but perhaps every other biography has been about Grover Cleveland or something), he goes into pretty great detail about how he makes his puppets. Yes, he’s a ventriloquist (but you knew that), and he uses 3D scanning, modeling, and printing to make his props. Further, he has scanned old puppets and then turned them to CAD so that he can remake them when they inevitably break. 

Brilliant. That’s some serious creativity.

The Stratasys corporate blog noticed, too, and here’s a write-up from Full Access that explains a bit:

And he delights in taking his craft where no comedian has ever gone before. So to open his fourth standup special, with a wow, Dunham went to his workshop, where his advanced NextEngine 3D scanner and Dimension 3D printer came in handy as the shooting deadline loomed. “Controlled Chaos” makes an unprecedented multi-territory debut on September 25, and is sure to set TV ratings records and add even more millions to his DVD sales.

The challenge? Convert a custom hot rod into the Achmed Mobile by topping its engine with a giant animated skull of Dunham’s best-known character, Achmed the Dead Terrorist. Craftsman and car buff Dunham has made his own characters by hand since his youth and builds and flies his own helicopters. Always at the digital cutting edge as well, he fashioned his largest Achmed skull yet by scanning in a full 3D image of the character’s head from one of his many best-selling merchandise items. The printer then output a 3D plastic mold onto which Dunham sculpted and painted the vivid skull face known to many millions worldwide.

Okay, so the comma usage and general writing there isn’t the best, but you get the idea. Laser scanning is cool! The world’s most-famous comic does it!

For evidence, here’s how I found out about all of this. One of the women here in the office who works for our commercial marine department was watching the Dunham bio-pic at home with hubby and as she’s watching she says to him, “oh my god! That’s what SPAR does!” Then she came in this morning and tells me all about it. Before too long, I’m showing her Cubify and Shapeways and she’s saying, “I want one!”

The days of a 3D printer in every home are coming. They’re 2018’s microwave oven/DVD player/smartphone. And with 3D printers comes 3D data capture, hand in hand. 

Finally, since it’s Friday, how about a bit featuring Achmed Junior, who is apparently the character scanned and printed in the Biography piece (apologies in advance for the squeamish among you – if you don’t like off-color humor, do not watch this):


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