The BBC airs its first advert for the Winter Olympics, 3D printing technology is very present


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With the 2022 Winter Olympics fast approaching, the BBC (British Broadcast Corporation) has aired its first advert for the upcoming sporting event – ​​and it’s offering 3D printing.

Titled “Extreme by Nature,” the 40-second trailer is an imaginative multimedia film. It combines stop-motion animation, fully 3D-printed frames, and a touch of in-camera effects to capture the intensity of the Winter Olympics. The advert was developed by BBC Creative, the BBC’s own in-house agency, and produced by Balázs Simon through Blinkink, an animation production company.

The 2022 Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing, China from February 4-20 with a total of 15 sports.

“I really admire people who are willing to push things to the limit,” Simon told Creative Review. “What could be a better example for that than the Olympics? Especially the Winter Games where they compete in environments so different from our usual experiences. When I was approached for this project, the biggest question for me was how to portray and live up to that dedication, we wanted to portray them being born in the ice and snow and eventually shattering.

Extreme by nature

Extreme by Nature aims to portray speed and excitement without the use of moving parts. All of the still frames used in the ad are also 3D printed from a polymer material, which means there is no real ice or snow at any point.

The animation begins with a basic icicle in the middle of the shot. The ice cube slowly cracks frame by frame to reveal a speed skater who then transforms into a slider, skier, snowboarder and eventually a figure skater. Finally, the ad ends with a sequence of “ice sculptures” illustrating the different sports that are to feature in the games.

Simon described creating the film as a huge challenge, especially when it came to the camerawork for the 3D-printed snow scenes. To make the viewer feel like the movement was real, the team used a mix of printed action and camera movement.

He explains, “We started thinking about cameras differently: some of their movement would be directly ‘printed’, and some would be actual movement of the control platform.”

Creating the Hype for the Winter Olympics

The first advert first aired on January 22 during Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel on BBC One. Going forward, the animation will be the BBC’s title sequence for the Winter Olympics and will be shown during commercial breaks on the various BBC channels.

Interestingly, Extreme by Nature does not mention China at all, despite being the host country.

Filming of 3D printed scenes. Photo via BBC.

Additive manufacturing also made several appearances at the Tokyo Olympics, which ran from July 23 to August 8, 2021. Automaker Hyundai Motor Group 3D printed a set of bow grips for the Korean shooting team archery, helping them win gold in the men’s, women’s, and mixed team categories at this year’s games.

Aluminum specialist Fehrmann Alloys also 3D printed a rudder suspension that helped propel the Australian sailing team to victory. The part was made using Fehrmann’s high-performance AlMgty alloy at the request of Hamburg-based shipyard Ziegelmayer, a leading manufacturer of Olympic Class 470 sailboats.

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Featured image shows a 3D printed frame in the ad. Photo via BBC.


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