Formlabs

Early in my career, I joined Formlabs as their first creative hire. Over a period of two years, I helped define the company's creative direction, grew the design/production team from nothing and played a key role in the launch of a 3D printer that kicked off the growth of what is now a two billion dollar business today.

Role

Creative Direction
‍Photography
Visual Design
Interaction Design
Strategy

Timeline

2 years

Storytelling

As the company grew, I was able to define my role as the head of Formlabs' storytelling efforts. My hands touched the entire production process from script writing and sourcing to production and post. The most exciting opportunity during my tenure was directing the launch videos of the company's second-gen product: the Form 1+. It would mark the company's biggest production investment up to that point in time.

Show, don't tell

While the Form 1+ appeared almost identical to its predecessor from the outside, the interior components were completely overhauled. I conceptualized a video that transitions through the diverse use cases of the Form 1+ before the audience is led inside the machine. The laser acts as our tour guide through the inner workings of the updated 3D printer. I created this animatic to use as a reference through production and post, in addition to selling the executive team on the vision.

A look inside

When I pitched an elaborate CG flying shot through the machine, I honestly didn't think we'd have the budget or schedule to make it a reality. Then I found Studio Aiko. The CG studio based in Tel Aviv produced high-quality renders in record time. I worked back and forth with their team to refine the movement of the camera, create shading materials and match pacing with the voiceover and live-action footage.

Lasting effect

The concept and style of this first campaign had an enduring impact on the company. It contributed to the Form 1+ being one of the highest selling SLA 3D printers at the time and influenced many of Formlabs' future product launches—even after I left the company. Many of the same production partners, actors and collaborators I originally sourced continued to be used. Each new printer was given the "deep dive" treatment, inviting potential customers to see inside the machine like they did with the Form 1+.

Featuring the community

Glossy product videos weren't the only thing being produced at Formlabs. I produced a dozen doc-style case studies that showcased customers working on everything from engineering, art, medicine and architecture. In true startup fashion, these videos were made with a skeleton crew (often just me) in a quick run-and-gun style with minimal, inexpensive equipment.

Photography

In addition to film production, I established an internal photo studio and a creative internship program within Formlabs. These two efforts met when I scouted Rob Chron, a talented photography student from RISD. Rob became my main collaborator in the studio and would later became the Head of Photo at Formlabs after I left. Below are some of the product photos we produced alongside additional external partners.

Design

I was hired to wear many hats at Formlabs, especially during the earliest days. Until we were able to grow the team and I could focus on storytelling, I was the sole graphic designer within the company. The needs of a new startup are ever changing. From day to day I was developing new software UI, overhauling the ecommerce site and creating a wide assortment of brand and marketing collateral.

Formlabs.com

When I joined Formlabs, their website was a janky Shopify theme that did the job during their kickstarter campaign, but was crippling as the grew fast. As a company that would rely almost entirely on direct sales instead of retail, a new website on a new platform was a must. The web dev team and I were given three months to research, prototype, design and develop a strong ecommerce experience that could convert sales. Product, industry and support pages were created in addition to a more robust checkout process.

Old Website
Software

PreForm is the software used to setup prints and interface with the 3D printer. It was cluttered, clunky and generally confusing to use. My work streamlined features, introduced a unique layer model slicing functionality and included refined iconography.

New Software
Old Software
Branding

The last aspect of my early work at Formlabs was creating a wide variety of branding material from illustrations, packaging, manuals, environmental graphics and marketing collateral. My most esteemed role was as the resident t-shirt designer.

Netflix

If being part of an explosive growth startup wasn't a surreal enough experience, this period of Formlabs was also featured in one of Netflix's first original documentaries, Print the Legend.

I assisted the filmmakers in capturing footage of the company and its founders (with their permission) during key moments. Many of these moments made it into the final film. Even if 3D printing doesn't interest you, the documentary is a very accurate depiction of the entrepreneurial journey. My face also pops up once or twice :)

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zach@zachboth.com