Laura Beth Cowley

Commenced PhD: October 2017 

Research Title: : Model, Print, Shoot, Repeat: an investigation into the impact of 3D printing as a tool in the stop-motion animation industries 

Supervisory Team: Director of studies David Huson, Rachel Mills 

Laura-Beth is PhD researcher associated with the 3D3 centre for doctorial training. Her research is focused on the use of 3D printing in the stop-motion animation industries. She has used iterative cycles of action research to trial and test different materials and technologies, to seek out their variable qualities such as appearance, strength, flexibility, surface finish/texture and potential uses for puppet construction and stop-motion film making.  

She has examined the cultural and industrial implications of the 3D printing pipeline within the stop-frame process. As well as the aesthetic choices and options available with 3D printing for puppets regarding design, materiality, and tactility. By embracing 3D printing as a tool, she has looked at how these elements affect both craftsmanship and authorship for animators, model-makers, directors, and filmmakers. Through a mix of empirical, action research, interviews and case studies with leading animation professionals and artists who use both traditional and digital techniques, she has explored the use of 3D printing in animation today. A large proportion of the study has been based around practical work, with an emphasis placed on developing, designing, modelling, printing, testing, refining and reviewing the potential for current and future use of new technology in the film making industries.  

During her research Laura-Beth has continued to make commercial and independent films in association with  BBC Arts, AHRC and Arts council England. She writes critically and journalistically for multiple online and printed publications; she also lectures on the subject of animation and is an active participant in various film festivals.   

Conferences & Publications  

Cowley, L. (2018) ‘The Changing face of replacement animation: How looking to the past can revolutionise the future of Stop-Motion Animation’. Society of Animation Studies Annual Conference. Concordia University, 18-22 June. Montreal, Canada. 

Cowley, L, 2018, Deep in the Uncanny Valley, Marimo, vol. 2, pp70-72. 

Cowley, L. (2019) ‘“Show me what you’ve got”: The ‘making of video’ a multi-sensory and multi-purpose research method’. The Essay Film Form and Animation: Intersectionality in Motion. Derek Jarman Lab, 12-13 June. CAPA, London. 

Cowley, L. (2019). ‘The Essay Film Form and Animation: Intersectionality in Motion Report’, AnimationStudies 2.0. 

Laura-Beth’s PhD is supported by the AHRC.

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