Print the Legend
Cast your minds back just over five years ago, you watched movies via a physical DVD disc and your 3D models created on a computer remained very much in the virtual world.
The idea that those two models would be flipped on their head – we’d be watching everything digitally and printing physical objects in the home – seemed like an idea plucked from the Sci-fi section of the Netflix catalogue, sent to you in a little red envelope, for you to never watch and keep for three months until you decided to cancel your free trial and then frantically try to find the free postage return envelope before the payment period kicked in…(Ed. Enough with that convoluted analogy).
The fact that Netflix went from being the United States Postal Service’s fastest-growing customer in the morning to the biggest source of internet traffic in North America in the evening, shows you how quickly the switch from physical to digital happening in the moving pictures entertainment business.
Heading in the opposite direction on a parallel track in the same time frame is 3D Printing, five years ago MakerBot were just starting up, the RepRap and fab@home projects were very much for boffins – if you had an idea that you’d like to prototype quickly your options were limited and your ideas very much remained viral.
"Print The Legend", a documentary premiered at SXSW, which charts the exponential rise of desktop 3D Printing, inadvertently not only charts the 3D printing part to our convoluted analogy but by being gobbled up by Netflix’s exclusive content regime shows the opposite physical-digital tracks both realms are headed.
"It's so rare for a film to capture history in the making, and Luis Lopez and Clay Tweel have done just that in their skilful presentation of the elation and betrayals experienced by young entrepreneurs detailing the groundbreaking technology of 3D printing," said Lisa Nishimura, Netflix VP of Original Documentary and Comedy. "This is a compelling glimpse into a game changing technology as it nears an inflection point going from the fantasy world of a few obsessed visionaries to a must-have technology that may enter every home."
Print The Legend is a feature-length documentary by the folks that brought us the excellent Freakonomics and King of Kong, it received the Special Jury Prize for Editing and Storytelling at the SXSW Film Festival earlier this month.
"From the day we knew the 3D printing world would be our focus, we set our sights on a SXSW premiere," said Luis Lopez, Clay Tweel, and producer Steven Klein. "To premiere in front of the most tech savvy and entrepreneurial festival crowd in the world and partner with the Netflix documentary team - who work brilliantly at the cutting edge of distribution - is truly a dream come true."
The documentary charts the rise of 3D printing in the public consciousness by following four of the industry’s big hitters and their respective companies over a two-year period. It features Bre Pettis at MakerBot, Max Lobovsky at Formlabs, Avi Reichental at 3D Systems and Cody Wilson of the 3D printed gun fame.
The idea for the documentary came as the producers wanted to make a film on Apple and Steve Jobs, during their research to find the next Apple and next Steve Jobs they came across the cover article on Bre in Wired magazine and decided to sniff around that industry. This led the filmmakers Luis Lopez and Clay Tweel to MakerBot HQ at the 5,000 sq. ft. old facility in Bay Ridge. There they decided to centre the documentary on the cutthroat world of 3D Printing startups.
This should be a fascinating document of the industry, in the 18 month filming period alone we had MakerBot being bought out by Stratasys, Cody Wilson’s Liberator furore and 3D Systems suing Formlabs, which, seeing as both companies’ CEOs feature prominently in the documentary, should make for very interesting viewing.
Seeing as the documentary will be exclusive to Netflix streaming service there will likely never be an official physical copy of the movie on the market, oh the irony!