Split-flap Board

Project Details:

The question was, how can I animate type in a way that only a 3D motion designer could?

For my demo reel, I wanted to create a list of my skills, but with an animation style that answered this query. The split flap board popped into my mind.

The first time I saw one of these was when I was 20 years old, flying from Kathmandu to London via Moscow. At the Moscow airport, I saw this board in action, flipping through a list of destinations: Tashkent, Vladivostok, Tehran, Nairobi, Almaty…my imagination was lit up thinking of these places and what I might find there.

It's an apt metaphor for the world of 3D, and my imagination is again lit up thinking of the worlds that can be created, the stories that I can tell through the tools of design, modeling, sculpting, materials, and animation

Split Flap Animation Test

I was able to find instructions online for making the split flap board using a 3D printer. After looking at the pictures of the parts, I modeled simplified versions of each piece. I then used Illustrator to create textures for the letters. I laid them out, cut them in half, and then started the painstaking process of applying the letter textures to each flap in the correct order. Proper organization of the parts in my file was key.

In order to animate the flap, I used the Cinema 4D Mograph tools to set up the action of the flap staying upright until it reached a certain point in the rotation when it needed to fall.

With my careful file organization, it was easy enough to animate the letters of each flap to stop at the point needed to spell out the words.

I added in blinking red and green lights to further capture the original inspiration