Brett Foxwell and Conor Grebel

Category : GENERAL
By Brett Foxwell and Conor Grebel (United States)

What did you create?

WoodSwimmer is a short video demonstrating a concept of wood-scanning. It is a form of stop-motion animation allowing a camera to view a cut, sanded and prepared surface of hardwood, and then follow that surface as it moves through an entire sample of the wood. In this process the full interior of the hardwood, including growth rings, medullary rays, reaction zones, knots, rot and decay are all clearly visible, and in motion.



Why did you make it?

I had made a previous stop-motion science-fiction story that was about the evolutionary aspects of different types of metal. For my next film, I began to work with wood. I came upon the concept of the WoodSwimmer as I began to explore the visual science-fiction possibilities of this remarkable substance. Wood is a common material that is found all around us, but the interior structures have been little explored in motion.

How did you make it?

I used a DSLR camera in a setup for stop-motion animation in conjunction with a milling machine typically used for working with metal. This allowed the precision and repeatability needed for smooth animated motion as I cut through the hardwood samples. At great difficulty, several minutes of footage were obtained. The musician Bedtimes (Conor Grebel) then edited this footage to a song composed for the piece.

How is your work used?

WoodSwimmer is a beautiful journey through a common material, wood, which has a fascinating interior structure. Moving through this material reveals and illuminates a natural world seldom glimpsed, both in space and in time. I would also hope that by showing this amazing aspect of the natural world, a better appreciation of nature and the importance of conserving our precious resources can be gained.

Fab machines and software used

Cutting machine


Brett Foxwell
Edit & music
Conor Grebel


  • Hiroya Tanaka
    Professor at Keio University, Representative of SFC Social Fabrication Lab

    This beautiful visual works would not have been possible without the help of the CNC milling machine. Even though the output is not actually a physical object, this is still FAB and I highly applaud it for how it demonstrates the new possibilities that FAB brings forth.