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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Taking Your Digital Products Into The Real World

Did you ever watch a film where things started off as live animation but then transitioned to cartoon when the lead protagonist jumped into the computer? This is the general basis for the film ‘Tron’ too, which has the hero zapped into a computer program where the world becomes CG and highly stylised. Being sucked into the computer is a dream we’ve all had at some point or other, and clearly a good basis for an action film, but unless you count VR it’s not something that’s ever really going to happen.

But amazingly what is possible, is to take a digital product and to create that in the real world – so that the image, the text or even the item that you imagined using digital tools, can now be held in front of you in your hands. And thanks to recent developments, this is something that any of us can now experience relatively cheaply and even on mass. Read on for some examples and to do a ‘reverse Tron’…

Music, Films and Games

If you’ve used the computer to make your own music track, your own film, or your own piece of software, then you may be excited to think that you can produce this in a professional looking package just as you would buy it in a shop. Many online services will let you publish these digital products to a CD or DVD and will handle printing and packaging for you too. This then allows you to hold your creation in your hand and share it with friends; or, if you order on bulk, even to sell it from markets and on eBay.


This is a great feeling, but you will still need a computer or a CD player in order to enjoy the fruits of your labour. This isn’t the case though if you decide to look into ‘print on demand publishing’ which essentially allows you to publish a .doc file or a .pdf as a physical bound book. This then lets you either sell your works or just get a kick from having it on your shelf. And the best part? Because the books are printed out only when you or someone else order them, you won’t have to invest lots of money and risk making a huge loss.

Of course using your printer is an example of turning a digital product into something tangible too, but it’s considerably less exciting…

Physical Products

It doesn’t stop there though when it comes to holding your creations in your hands and making the digital physical. Perhaps the most amazing example of all is ‘3D printing’, which essentially gives you access to basic manufacturing tools. Just create a 3D model using a piece of modelling software such as Blender or Rhinoceros, and then upload it to one of the 3D printing sites you’ll find on Google. A laser then uses to cut your 3D shape out of a pre-selected material, and that way you can create real physical objects. The only limitation is your imagination…
Featured images:

Philip Smith, the author of this post is an employee at 3xL, a DVD printing and duplication service provider in Sydney. Photography and travelling to places are some of his favorite things to do. Visit http://www.3xl.com.au/ for more information.
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