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Pinocchio movie: Puppet made by east Belfast 3D printing firm

Oct 05, 2023

The new Pinocchio movie from director Guillermo del Toro has been hotly tipped for success at the Oscars but it has emerged the film has a special connection to Northern Ireland.

The body of the Pinocchio puppet featured in the animation was constructed by a 3D printing firm in east Belfast using laser technology.

The firm's director said it took just a few days to complete.

The Pinocchio film has already secured a BAFTA and a number of other awards.

When animation studio Mackinnon and Saunders, which created the models for the film, needed help making the Pinocchio puppet it got in touch with Laser Prototype Europe Ltd.

The firm's director Campbell Evans said: "They needed somebody to be able to make the body, the arms and the legs and so on".

"We are a company that obviously offer plastic and metal 3D printing and they needed metal parts so they approached us. We've done other work for them in the past so they knew that we could do a good job.

"We did the back plate, we did the front breast plate and we did all the legs and joints and so on which are all interconnected.

"You can see it's very fine featured. We have high-resolution metal printers that can actually produce these fine definition parts."

It is understood to be the first time puppets made from metal have been used in a movie of this kind, allowing film-makers to make more realistic movements.

"They'd send us the design and then we'd look at it and add supporting material. That gets sliced into very thin layers and then that gets sent to the machine where a laser will essentially weld it layer by layer," senior engineer Nelson McKay said.

"With this one there was a lot of articulating arms and stuff that had to move together so that was obviously prioritised so that we could clear holes and everything would sort of move and articulate nicely."

The adaption of the classic children's story has swept the board at this year's movie awards.

Mr Evans said the firm is proud of its connection to the movie.

"The guys are used to doing very normal type work but whenever very exciting work like this comes in everybody wants to know how it's progressing, how it's moving forward.

"The very fact that we've had our name in the credits for the movie means I think some of our guys are hoping to get an invitation to the Oscars!"

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