PF3000 – Large Format 8-bit Sprite Designer (2023 Summer Project)

The PF3000 is 4×4 and features part of the animation workflow. We will expand this to 16×16 for a total of 256 pixels and include additional features like a floppy disk save/load.

Draw Pixel Graphics using Touch!

Introducing Filma Collective’s art piece for the 2023 Autumn lights show in Oakland, CA: The PF3000 – Stupidly large format 8-bit Sprite Designer. The PF3000 is a wall of large pixels that you control with touch. Tap a pixel with your finger to turn it on, tap it again to change the color. Multiple people can join in and work on epic sprites together. Make video games just like they did in the old days but REALLY BIG.

Just $20 enables a single pixel. Make a tax deductible donation today and get cool perks.

PF3000 Specs

Display Specs

  • Resolution: 16×16
  • Pixel Count: 256
  • Custom engineered microcontroller circuit
  • Pixel Size: 3″x3″
  • Full Dimensions w/ Frame: 6′ x 6′

Touch sensitive Big-ass Pixels:

  • Strip of RGB LEDs
  • Diffuse Acrylic Prism
  • Indium-Tin Oxide Conductive plastic
  • Reflective Acrylic Encasing

PF3000 Background: Sprites a.k.a. “Pixel Graphics” and Video Games


Our latest art project which has a little something to do with a character called “Mario”.

Mario is 13×16 pixels. Since the NES worked in 8×8 tiles, Mario’s total resolution is 16×16
The image above a ‘sprite sheet’ and details each frame of animation sprites; if you look for Mario running, there are five frames of animation to make Mario run

On the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), little mario is a ‘sprite’ built using 4 colors within a 16×16 grid. Video games back then (and some video games today) used sprites for video game characters. An artist would draw, on a grid, pixel by pixel, these video game characters. Then, to make Mario run or jump, an animator would take a sprite like this and make multiple animation frames – modifying Mario ever so slightly. These frames are played really fast by the NES which gives the illusion that Mario is running, jumping, or whatever, when the player presses a button on their controller.

We’re huge fans of animation, old computers, and video games – we wondered, what if there was a way where people could get together to create characters just like Mario? What we came up with is a custom, low resolution, touch sensitive display designed specifically to create characters just like Mario. Read on to learn more about how it works.

PF3000 Design

A giant very low resolution touch display

The PF3000 is designed similar to a computer monitor – but a computer monitor at very low resolution. For example, your TV if it is 4k has 8.3 million pixels. By comparison, the PF3000 will have 256 Pixels – just enough for a simple video game character from the 1980s like Mario or Pac-Man. Just like in your TV, the pixels are arranged in a grid and each pixel can be a color comprised of three basic colors Red, Blue, and Green. And just like your modern digital tv, we draw images by choosing which pixel is which color and then we back up a little bit and our eyes/brain handles the rest. If we draw the pixels fast enough, and no where close to as fast as your tv, it will even look like something is moving to our eyes, aka ‘animation’.

Where the PF3000 differs from your tv or computer monitor (besides the resolution) is how the colors for each pixel are controlled. Instead of a computer telling the PF3000 (a big low resolution tv) what to display, you and your friends will control the color through touch. By touching the pixel the pixel will light up and change color allowing you to draw sprites.

PF3000 – Animating Sprites

Because what good is a video game without characters that move: The PF3000 allows a person to not only create a single image on its 16×16 grid – it also has support for animating the images allowing up to 10 frames of animation. The PF3000 features an animation workflow that allows you to copy an existing frame into a new frame and then modify the new frame for the animation you want. If you’ve never animated before, the PF3000 is a fantastic way to learn.

Here’s how it will work:

  1. Draw your character in it’s initial position
  2. PF3000 has a button that will copy the character and advance to the next frame
  3. modify the character for the next teeny-tiny piece of the animation
  4. Press the PF3000 copy/advance frame button again and repeat this process up to ten times.
  5. Animate by pressing play – the PF3000 will loop through all of the images you’ve created and animate them.

Let’s take pac-man who has three frames of animation. Going from left to right in this image, you would draw the first pac-man, press the PF3000 button, draw the second frame in the middle, press the PF3000 button again, and update the image to the the final frame on the right. Then, upon pressing play, pac-man would look as though he’s chomping away

PF3000 Floppy Disk System – Saving and Loading Sprite animations

The PF3000 supports a save/load feature using 5″ floppy disks (like from the 80s). More on this feature coming soon.