Chronofab: Fabricating Motion (CHI 2016)

We bring the stylized motion depiction techniques of 2D comics into the physical world of 3D printed objects 

How to portray time and motion in 3D printed artifacts? Our new work on fabricating time is appearing to ACM CHI 2016 conference.


ChronoFab is a 3D modeling tool to craft motion sculptures, tangible representations of 3D animated models, visualizing an object’s motion with static, transient, ephemeral visuals that are left behind. Our tool casts 3D modeling as a dynamic art-form by employing 3D animation and dynamic simulation for the modeling of motion sculptures. Our work is inspired by the rich history of stylized motion depiction techniques in existing 3D motion sculptures and 2D comic art. Based on a survey of such techniques, we present an interface that enables users to rapidly explore and craft a variety of static 3D motion depiction techniques, including motion lines, multiple stroboscopic stamps, sweeps and particle systems, using a 3D animated object as input.


By bridging the gap between 3D animation and fabrication, ChronoFab offers a fundamentally new interactive workflow: Aiding and enhancing 3D modeling techniques by incorporating time, motion, and animation-driven simulations.

Dynamic sculpting can also offer a novel approach to design problems and ideation. There is a growing corpus of available animation data from motion capture systems, simulation methods, procedural methods, and manually crafted character animations. The integration of such motion data into modeling environments opens up the possibilities for a more dynamic framework in the early stages of design, serving as inspiration during the form finding process. For example, as demonstrated in the paper (and video), a flying moth animation may inspire a lamp design, or a character animation can inspire a jewelry design. Another promising avenue for utilizing temporal information in the modeling process is for generative design. In generative design, sophisticated and complex geometries can be represented with small amount of data (e.g., rules, codes, parameters). While the interface components of ChronoFab are inspired from existing motion sculptures, generative designers can write customized rules and codes to generate complex, organic, or repetitive forms using motion data. Together, a number of these tools can be integrated as part of the larger generative design process for new sophisticated designs. Finally, motion is a form of time-varying data. Indexing time in physical artifacts is not just a visual phenomenon, rather it offers new forms of expression for the physical visualization of data that changes over time.


Here is our curated list of existing motion sculptures, that guided our design and implementation. For more information, read the full paper.

A stop-motion animation with motion sculpture by Simon Breslav.

During the early phases of the project, we did a lot of experimentation with miniature figurines, paper cuts, clays, miniature figurines, and painting to rapidly explore and visualize the motion effects. It was fun! 🙂


ChronoFab: Fabricating Motion
R H Kazi, T Grossman, C Mogk, R Schmidt, G Fitzmaurice
CHI 2016 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: