The Mechanics of "Repo Men"

Creative Character Engineering turns to LightWave to create the futuristic organs in the sci-fi thriller "Repo Men"

Posted: Tue 27 Jul 2010

At the forefront of artificial organ development for Repo Men, is Hollywood-based, Creative Character Engineering (CCE), which used the advanced 3D modeling capabilities of LightWave 3D, to bring the artificial organs from concept to reality.

The premise behind Repo Men, is that any organ in your body can be replaced—for a price. In this sci-fi action thriller, starring Jude Law and Forrest Whittaker, failure to pay for your artificial organs brings with it a hefty price—repossession, and ultimately, death.

Specializing in practical visual effects and animatronics, Creative Character Engineering relied heavily on LightWave to create 3D models of the organs that would eventually become tangible objects. Working from 2D concept art, CCE designed the life-size 3D models of all the organs, except the spine, to easily fit together like a puzzle. To create physical 3D prototypes of the organs, LightWave OBJ files were converted into STL files, and outsourced to a 3D printer. The prototypes were then mass-produced, painted, plated, and later reassembled, to create the onscreen representations of the mechanical organs featured in the movie.

In Repo Men, barcoding was an effective way to identify, and inventory the mechanical organs. The barcodes, which were about the size of a dime, were created using a combination of LightWave 3D and Adobe Illustrator; images were imported from an Illustrator file into LightWave, and extruded to incorporate the barcode into the model geometry.

"LightWave is extremely easy to use, has a full featured modeler, solid animation tools, and the best render engine in the industry," says Andrew Clement, owner of Creative Character Engineering. "It was an ideal way to model the artificial organs for Repo Men—creating 3D art, to part in a fast, efficient way. Using LightWave allows us to stay focused on delivering a quality product to our clients—even on a tight deadline."

Visit the Creative Character Engineering webite at

See the “Repo Men” trailer at