A Belgian touch at the Oscars

The illustrious Oscars were held on 24 February. You have no doubt already heard or read about it, it was difficult to miss Marvel’s superhero, Black Panther, among the major winners. But did you know that there is a little Belgian touch in the film?

Black Panther, by Ryan Coogler, the first action film featuring a black super hero, did not win the ultimate award, but it still won three Oscars: Best Costume Design, Best Production Design and Best Score in a Motion Picture, making Ruth Carter (costumes) and Hannah Beachler (sets) the first African-American women to win these awards.

It is not so much the success of the film that we’re focusing on today, but specifically its costumes. That’s because the special crown worn by Queen Ramonda, played by Angela Bassett, was made in Belgium by a company called Materialise. Based in Leuven, this company is active in the field of 3D printing. Run for 30 years by its founder Wilfried Vancraen, the company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The share price broke the $1 billion mark in December 2018.

The use of 3D printing in cinema, and more particularly in the design of characters’ costumes and props, is nothing new. It makes it possible to create customised objects while offering a certain complexity of design. In the case of Black Panther, the costumes needed to be a blend of older tradition and ultra-modernity. Not an easy combination to achieve, but one that Materialise has accomplished brilliantly.