3D Printer Plays Supporting Role in Chipotle's Award-Winning Viral Video

3D printer maker Stratasys said its Dimension 3D Printing technology created several of the physical models for the popular stop-motion animated short “Back To The Start,” which has garnered more than two million YouTube views and a nod from AdWeek as one of the top commercials of the year.

Produced for Chipotle Mexican Grill by CAA Marketing Group and Nexus Productions, “Back To The Start” features a stop-motion animated trip from farm to table, punctuated by a soulful Willie Nelson cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” specially commissioned for the video.

The film, by filmmaker Johnny Kelly, depicts the life of a farmer as he slowly turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before seeing the error of his ways and opting for a more sustainable future. Both the film and the soundtrack were commissioned by Chipotle to emphasize the importance of developing a sustainable food system.

London-based special effects studio Artem, Ltd. produced the visual effects for the video, which has won praise for its creative approach to telling Chipotle’s sustainability story. During the past five years, Artem has used the Dimension 3D Printer to produce models for dozens of clients, including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), 20th Century Fox and Nokia.

“The beauty of using the Dimension 3D Printer for this project was that we could produce exact replicas of the animatic drawings, rather than guessing about sizes and details as we might have done with hand-sculpted models,” said Bob Thorne, senior visual effects supervisor for Artem, Ltd.

With an approved animatic (a design file with rough-draft, full-motion sketches of proposed animated sequences), Thorne and his team had only to feed that data to the Dimension 3D Printer before producing and hand-finishing the models, most of which were human-inspired characters that required a high level of detail.

Using traditional production methods, these models might have taken days to sculpt by hand and finish to the director’s specifications. But with the Dimension 3D Printer, Thorne and his team completed the process overnight and produced a tray full of models.

“Back To The Start” has won praise from creative arts leaders, sustainability experts and pop culture gurus for its fresh, engaging approach to the subject of factory farming and food quality. A “making of” video – which includes the Dimension 3D Printer – has garnered its own YouTube following, with more than 20,000 unique views.

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