Brickfilm

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An example of a brickfilm.

A Brickfilm is a film made using LEGO bricks, or other similar plastic construction toys. They are usually created with stop motion animation though CGI, traditional animation, and live action films featuring plastic construction toys (or representations of them) are also usually considered brickfilms.[1] The term 'brickfilm' was coined by Jason Rowoldt, founder of Brickfilms.com.[citation needed]

History[edit]

A brickfilm

1980s - Early Brickfilms[edit]

The first known brickfilm, En rejse til månen (Journey to the Moon), was created in 1973 by Lars C. Hassing and Henrik Hassing.[2] The six minute video featured both stop motion animation and live action, and was recorded on Super 8 film. The film was later shown to Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, who had a personal copy made, though the film was not released to the public until May 2013, when the creator uploaded it to YouTube.[3]

The second known brickfilm, Lego Wars, was made in 1980 by Fernando Escovar.[4] The 3-minute 8mm film was not released until its creator uploaded it to YouTube on April 2, 2007.[5]

The third known brickfilm was made between 1985 and 1989 in Perth, Western Australia by Lindsay Fleay, and called The Magic Portal, a film shot on a bolex 19mm camera. It was captured on 16 mm film and features animated LEGO, plasticine, and cardboard characters and objects, mixing both stop motion animation and live action.[6][unreliable source?] Portal had high production values for a brickfilm, with a five-figure budget granted by the Australian Film Commission. However, due to legal issues with The LEGO Group, it did not see a wide release.

More early brickfilms were produced in the Lego Sport Champions series,[7] officially commissioned by The LEGO Group in 1987.[8][9][10] During this time, Dave Lennie and Andrew Boyer started making "Legomation" using a VHS camera and professional video equipment.[11]

1990s - Brickfilming 'Golden' Years[edit]

In the late 1990s, the age of film and video brickfilms ended as digital cameras became more and more commonplace. Also, the Internet allowed brickfilmers to produce and distribute their work more easily. The founding of Brickfilms.com in 2000 brought together the brickfilming community. The sites did not directly host the films, but rather linked to pages where they could be downloaded or streamed.

Simultaneously, The LEGO Group officially encouraged the creation of brickfilms with the release of Lego Studios. Since then, brickfilms have been used to help The LEGO Group advertise new themes and sets.[12][13]

These actions both significantly increased brickfilming's popularity through to the mid 2000s.

2000s[edit]

Throughout the 2000s, brickfilms increased in sophistication and garnered some occasional media attention.[14] Higher-end films would often feature digital effects, created frame-by-frame with image editors[15] or inserted via video compositing software.

The Deluxe Edition DVD of Monty Python and the Holy Grail contained an extra in the form of a brickfilm of the "Camelot Song",[16] produced by Spite Your Face Productions. Since then, several brickfilms have been placed on DVDs along with the films which they emulate, such when Lego Star Wars: Revenge of the Brick was featured on the second DVD volume of Star Wars: Clone Wars TV series.[17]

Brickfilms have also been released commercially on their own, such as Jericho: The Promise Fulfilled, a 30-minute-long film made by Shatter Point Entertainment, and Wars Of Humanity episode I and II. The film was awarded Best Animation by the Cape Fear Independent Film Festival 2009.[citation needed] In 2007, the brickfilm Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World was accepted to over 80 film festivals, including Sundance.[18]

In 2008, the Brickfilms.com administrator, Schlaeps, started developing another brickfilming site which would later become bricksinmotion.com. As he was doing this using Brickfilms.com servers, Schlaeps was demoted from the site.[19]

Today almost all brickfilming is performed with digital cameras and webcams,[20] which makes the art more accessible to everyone. And since the 2010s, as HD video becomes commonplace, HD is the new standard set for brickfilms, with some animators even considering 3D.

Technique[edit]

All modern brickfilms are captured with digital still cameras (sometimes in the form of webcams, DSLRs or camcorders with still image capability). The standard framerate for a quality film is 15 FPS, as a compromise between minimum production time and smoothest motion.[21] There is also a standard 4-frame minifigure walk cycle for this framerate.[22] A skilled brickfilmer can use only 12 FPS to good effect, but lower framerates are considered amateurish. Note that some modern brickfilms, notably the work of Custard Productions, have much higher framerates than films of the Brickfilms.com heyday.

Before the film is edited, the images themselves may be altered to create special effects frame-by-frame. Editing can be accomplished with almost any digital video program. However, most seasoned brickfilmers prefer to use dedicated stop motion software, such as the free MonkeyJam and Helium Frog Animator, or paid software such as Dragon Stop Motion. Afterwards, compositing software such as Adobe After Effects can be used to add visual effects and a video editor can be used to tie together the stop motion clips and also for adding the soundtrack.

Brickfilming festivals and communities[edit]

Some film festivals are dedicated entirely to brickfilms.[23] The brickfilming hobby has led to several online communities, including BricksInMotion.com and Brickfilms.com,[20] some of which have been covered in mainstream media outlets.[24] These festivals serve many contests, with many real prizes to win.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Tyee – The Rise of the Lego Video". Thetyee.ca. Retrieved 2013-08-25. 
  2. ^ "Animation : 954". News.lugnet.com. 2013-05-16. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  3. ^ "En rejse til månen (Journey to the Moon)". YouTube. 1973-05-16. Retrieved 2013-08-25. 
  4. ^ "Oldest Brickfilm?". BrickFilms. 2007-04-11. Retrieved 2013-08-25. 
  5. ^ "VERY 1st Lego Wars LEGO MOVIE from 1980 FILM Star wars". YouTube. 2007-04-02. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  6. ^ "The Magic Portal". Rakrent.com. Retrieved 2013-08-25. 
  7. ^ "LEGOsports". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  8. ^ "Lego Sports Champions(1987)". BrickFilms. Retrieved 2013-08-25. 
  9. ^ "Olympic LEGO Animations: Then and Now". Brickanimation.com. 2012-08-16. Retrieved 2013-08-25. 
  10. ^ "Lego Sport Champions". Filmwest.com. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  11. ^ http://www.wdln.tv/legoshorts.htm
  12. ^ "Lego Ads". YouTube. 2008-01-28. Retrieved 2013-08-25. 
  13. ^ "Lego & Steven Spielberg MovieMaker Set - PC World Business". Pcworld.idg.com.au. 2001-02-10. Retrieved 2013-08-25. 
  14. ^ Post (2007-10-06). "In This Film Industry It Really Helps To Be a Blockhead - WSJ.com". Online.wsj.com. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  15. ^ "Masking and bowling". YouTube. 2007-08-27. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  16. ^ "Monty Python LEGO | Free Video Clips". SPIKE. Retrieved 2013-08-25. 
  17. ^ "Star Wars - Clone Wars, Vol. 2 : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Dvdtalk.com. Retrieved 2013-08-25. 
  18. ^ New offering from Lego for auteurs of bricks New Strait Times, Jan. 18, 2001
  19. ^ "Brickfilms Chronicle - Loneverse". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on 2008-08-03. Retrieved 2013-08-25. 
  20. ^ a b "Brick Films". Ampsvideo.com. Retrieved 2013-08-25. 
  21. ^ "Frames Per Second". BrickFilms. 2013-08-13. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  22. ^ "Minifig Walking Tutorial". Thehowlingfantods.com. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  23. ^ "Brickfilms - a Lego film festival, tomorrow in Sweden!". Boing Boing. 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2013-08-25. 
  24. ^ "In This Film Industry It Really Helps To Be a Blockhead - WSJ.com". Online.wsj.com. 2007-10-06. Retrieved 2013-08-25. 

External links[edit]