Stop-Motion Sainsbury’s Spot Employs 3D-Printed Characters
December 6, 2016

Stop-Motion Sainsbury’s Spot Employs 3D-Printed Characters

MINNEAPOLIS & REHOVOT, ISRAEL — Stratasys Ltd. (, the 3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions company, announced that its full-color, multi-material J750 3D printer played a key role in UK supermarket giant, Sainsbury’s, 2016 Christmas TV advert. Shot entirely as stop-frame animation, The Greatest Gift TV spot features a number of different characters, the faces of which were all produced on the Stratasys J750 3D printer by 3D Print Bureau and Tri-Tech 3D.
According to Richard Pickersgill, workshop supervisor at puppet makers, Mackinnon & Saunders, the Stratasys J750 secured its part in the production for several key reasons that made it a winning choice above the alternative method of traditional figure molding. “A total of over 1,400 3D printed faces were required for this production, including 800 separate models depicting different expressions for the main character alone,” he explains. “We therefore needed a solution that guaranteed precise repeatability with extremely accurate full color detail, while also delivering cost and time savings. As it turns out, without the use of 3D printing and the capabilities of the Stratasys J750 3D Printer, we simply could not have completed the build in time.”

Directed by Sam Fell and sung by James Corden, the three-and-a-half-minute mini film centers around family dad, Dave, who discovers a way to spend more time with his family at Christmas. According to Pickersgill, the elaborate production needed a technology capable of delivering fine detail and high quality color, but within a strict timeframe.

“The attributes of the Stratasys J750 3D Printer offered us the best all-round solution; we found that other technologies just didn’t offer everything we wanted,” he explains. “We needed to be able to print quickly in full color and ensure consistency while also retaining all of the detail of the digital sculpts. The 3D printing materials used also needed to be robust enough for handling and provide minimal shrinkage.”

The large quantity of faces required for this project also favored a technology that would limit the amount of post-processing work by eliminating the need to remove and clean-up the physical support structure and painting.

According to Gary Miller from 3D Print Bureau, the enormity of the project’s need for more than 1400 pieces, saw Stratasys reseller, Tri-Tech 3D, also enlisted to support the 3D printing effort.

“We were printing almost non-stop for several weeks, but managed to complete the project within deadline,” Miller explains. “The results look spectacular and underscore the unique capabilities of this particular 3D printing system.”

Currently being broadcast on UK TV, production of ‘The Greatest Gift’ required the close collaboration of several separate parties, including: animation studio, Passion Pictures; puppet makers Mackinnon & Saunders; technical CG modeler Glen Southern/Southerngfx; 3D printing service bureau, 3D Print Bureau; and Stratasys reseller, Tri-Tech 3D.