Imagine watching your favorite video game characters become real in the 3D world. While that may seem a fantasy, a new software has finally made it possible. By using the techniques of 3D printing, the software is able to create a digital models of these characters which can then be easily printed in 3D.
The software which has made it all happen has been developed by Harvard computer scientists. In a way, this software has realized the true potential of 3D printing. 3D printing has been around for quite some time and is becoming increasingly accessible for users. Designers and artists around the world are using the technology to create physical 3D prototypes.
But printing 3D video game characters is a different thing, altogether. Because, most of the time it is not feasible for the game characters to exist in the physical world. For instance, a character in a video game may look like a perfectly possible creature; but in real world, it may be too heavy or too thin to sustain its own weight and hence, may simply be impossible.
Moritz Bacher, one of the researchers on the team who developed the 3D printing software, explains, “In animation you’re not necessarily trying to model the physical world perfectly – the model only has to be good enough to convince your eye. You can make a character so anatomically skewed that it would never be able to stand up in real life, and you can make deformations that aren’t physically possible.”
And that is precisely where the role of the new software begins. The video game characters are built upon a skeleton which is developed first. The software tries to find the ideal locations for figure joints on this skeleton. In simple words, it tries to tweak the skeleton so that a real 3D model become possible.
Once this is accomplished, printing the character can be done. The software also enhances the look and feel of the character so that its features are visible and clear when printed in 3D.
However, there seems to be one critical problem that this break-through faces. According to some legal experts, a lot of video game developers may argue that when someone prints their game’s character, it is a copyright infringement. However, there are ways to overcome this obstacle.
According to a solicitor from a London-based intellectual property law firm, Mark Corran, “In principle, there is nothing illegal about this technology as it has not been designed in order to infringe copyright or to avoid any anti-piracy measures. Commercially, I’d expect that the intention is to license this hardware to, for example, Microsoft or Sony for use with their devices.”
However, if individuals or small organizations try to lay their hands on this technology and create 3D models of video game characters, they may run into troubles. Corran further says, “However, where someone has created the images for a character in a game, which will be stored within the code of the game,… using this technology to make a 3D copy of a 2D on-screen image for the character would be an infringement.”