Topic: Are original brickfilms a dead art?

Now I've been brickfilming since 2007 and back in the day there seemed to be a whole lot more original brickfilms (non-licensed themed perhaps would be the more exact terms). This community always celebrated originality and quite loudly encouraged it but over the years the new generations of animators came in and they seemed less and less focused on such things, instead opting to make Lego Batman, Lego Avengers and etc. Which is not essentially a bad thing as long as the animation itself is good and the idea is interesting.

Basically, what I noticed recently is that even though making original films was never really all that popular, the production of original ideas has become non-existent in the past few years. Am I wrong? What do you think?

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Re: Are original brickfilms a dead art?

Brickfilmers that want to make money on their videos, using a platform such as youtube, generally have to pander to current trends for clicks. And 2007 or so is when youtube really started to kick off.

Brickfilmers like Michael Hickox and Forrest Whaley (Forrestfire101), both of whom started between 2007 and 2009, popularized short, simple subject and license themed films respectively, although both genres existed beforehand.

This, in turn, created a load of copycats, most of whom eventually inspired newer generations of brickfilmers. This, along with the subject matter and presentation of The LEGO Movie (which included a lot of licenses), and LEGO's continued additions of acquired licenses, has led to an increase in licensed themed brickfilms.

I mean, back in the brickfilms.com days, you only really had LEGO Star Wars, and perhaps LEGO Spiderman. That's it. Now you've got both DC and Marvel, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, Adventure Time, Minecraft... etc.

But original brickfilms are still being made (perhaps even in similar numbers). Perusing through Bricks in Motion's film directory will yield a great many results of non licensed brickfilms. And, since BiM contests (official or non) tend to discourage IP characters and stories, you'll generally find a lot of great original brickfilms in their entries.

I think the real issue is original content being undermined by the overwhelming popularity of licensed films. I mean, would you click on this over this if both were in the sidebar?

Making a licensed theme fanfilm is so much easier than original content, since the characters, and often times music, have already been created for you. That, and characters everybody knows (Batman, Darth Vader, Sherlock Holmes...) bring with them audience appreciation. If I made a Star Wars brickfilm, everybody watching will already be hooked on the setting and characters from the first frame. Whereas if I make an original brickfilm, I've got to sell everybody on my characters and story over the entire course of the film.

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Re: Are original brickfilms a dead art?

It's easy to overlook the original videos because the market is so flooded by quote "IP films." (IP Films can be original too of course, but we won't get into that right now). Especially if you think that there are no original films, when you're searching it essentially becomes confirmation bias because you overlook the original ones. That being said, there have been some great original stories made lately. I, for example, have refrained from making "IP films" excessively (though I have made a few when I had an idea). So my "Sola Luna" or "Equine Introspection" are entirely original... and they weren't made in the "glory days" of '07 either.

Or take Pongowl. Unbridled Mischief is completely original, but sadly overlooked. It's just a matter of finding the original brickfilms. Sadly YouTube's set up to favor sensationalism and pop culture. Combine both and you get either horrible brickfilms (Lego Fat Man at the Gym) or IP films (Lego Avengers Infinity War Trailer Recreation).

Original films don't catch peoples' eyes sadly. But don't worry, not everyone is someone who just makes trailer recreations or boring "Lego man does <insert activity here>" videos.

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Re: Are original brickfilms a dead art?

Just don't put any stock in YouTube views; disregard the concept entirely. If you are primarily learning of new brickfilms through community involvement, it appears much more evenly balanced. I probably see the most new brickfilms through Discord and Twitter.

Re: Are original brickfilms a dead art?

Dyland wrote:

I think the real issue is original content being undermined by the overwhelming popularity of licensed films. I mean, would you click on this over this if both were in the sidebar?

I'd much rather watch your video, it's of a far higher quality mini/bigsmile

Re: Are original brickfilms a dead art?

I think original films are more valued when it comes to contests, but overall there seem to be a lot of IP films out there.

I think most non brickfilmers I think tend to associate lego animations with IP films. For example, my choir director at church (A man who is probably in his 60s) asks me every few months "How are the Lego Star Wars videos going?" I keep telling him, "you know, Pat, I've never actually made a Star Wars video." This usually surprises him, as I guess he imagined that they must be about Star Wars if they're done with Lego.

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Re: Are original brickfilms a dead art?

I think the root cause of this is that there are also now a lot more IP sets made by LEGO. So the amount of work it takes to make an IP film is even less than it was back in the day. You still had IP films a while ago but they were mainly just Star Wars films since that was at the time the only IP LEGO licensed. Now it seems like most LEGO sets are some kind of existing IP.

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Re: Are original brickfilms a dead art?

This is such a tricky topic, as the landscape of video sharing and monetization seem to be an ever-evolving entity, especially on YouTube. I'm less and less inclined to shame IP-based brickfilms because, in my adult years, I can't exactly fault people for wanting to earn a few bucks off of something they've poured a lot of time and passion into, and for better or worse, that's the best way to get attention and viewership. To echo what Aqua said, LEGO has also leaned pretty heavily into their licensed product lines in the last few years, so access to making videos around Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, etc. is easier than ever.

That said...I think the one thing that I would fault IP-based brickfilms for is the oversaturation of them - when it seems like EVERYONE is out there making Star Wars/Marvel/DC/etc. films, they run the risk of becoming a dime-a-dozen enterprise, especially if most of them, sadly, have little to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack. That's not true of all of them, though - just take one look at a film like Forrest Whaley's Captain America: Nazi Zombies and you'll see just how much care and attention goes into every frame. I may be biased because I was a small part of that project myself, but for my money, it's one of the best-designed brickfilms ever made. That is an IP brickfilm that feels like there's a true director with a vision behind it.

All that to say, though, if I were to rattle off a list of brickfilms over the years I'd consider the very best and the most influential, I'm not sure if a single one based on a popular IP (outside of Star Wars, which has been around the longest) would make my shortlist. I grew up in the era of brickfilming before the IPs really became a thing, and I watched a number of independent animators flourish and grow as storytellers, and craft some truly stunning and beautiful stories often of their own creation. There's always going to be something particularly special about that to me. Like I said before, with a few exceptions, the swath of IP-based brickfilms on YouTube can all tend to feel a little dime-a-dozen, but its the original films that I believe will have the lasting legacy, if they're lucky enough to find their audience.

Finding an audience was less of a concern back in the day when YouTube was still this fledgling little website as opposed to the behemoth it is now, and for most of us, we were just a bunch of kids and young adults hanging out on a little online forum making films for one another. There was no real pretense of "viewership" on a large scale outside of the friends and other regulars we had on the site, and I think that's what granted us the ability to take greater risks or stretch ourselves creatively. The rise of YouTube and the advent of monetization has changed that forever, and again, I don't fault anyone for wanting to build an audience for something they're passionate about, but I think the unfortunate side-effect of that evolution is that "original" brickfilms can now seen more as a risk or a liability than an asset, at least to those for whom viewership and viral potential are the higher priority.

Personally, I'd love to see original brickfilms make a boom again, especially now. YouTube is definitely no longer the haven it used to be for animators, but I observe that more and more young brickfilmers having greater access to professional-grade equipment, heads and shoulders above the webcameras and Windows Movie Maker-driven films that a lot of us grew up watching and making ourselves years ago. I think if people could put those resources and evolved filming/editing techniques to good use, we could see some truly special original films start to be put out again.

Last edited by MindGame (June 9, 2018 (10:56am))

Re: Are original brickfilms a dead art?

Something else that crossed my mind on this topic which I have found to be the case for me at times is the fact that often IP films are best made at certain times. For example, if I wanted to make a brickfilm for the upcoming Star Wars movie, I'm most likely going to want to work on that first so that I finish it in time for the movie's release where I can gain a bigger audience than if I released it a year or two later. Non-IP films don't have this necessity to be done as soon as possible (unless it's for a Bricks in Motion contest mini/wink mini/tongue ), so at least for me they often get pushed back until later, and at the rate that giants like Marvel and Star Wars are releasing movies, especially for those of us who are also huge fans of the franchises, it can be very easy to fall into the trap of never having time to make more original stuff because we're too focused on the here and now in the world of hollywood blockbusters. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has struggled with this at times, and yet again this is an advantage for making IP-films over non-IP films.

In contrast to this, most of the brickfilms that have helped to develop my animation skills further (and I'm sure I'm speaking for most people here) are original films, which is why I'm so glad that there was at the very least a period in time where many (often legendary) original brickfilms were made, and I too would love to see a similar era to this rise again.

Re: Are original brickfilms a dead art?

Or maybe some people make IP brickfilms because they just want to make fanfiction. There's nothing wrong with that at all. Some people just want to use their hobby as a way of having fun, with things they enjoy, and engaging with other fans of the same material. It's why I keep making Marvel brickfilms; they don't get very many more views than my original content, it's just about what I personally enjoy doing in the very little time that I have to make brickfilms. Plus, most of my best friends in the community are people I met through working on the Marvel Brickfilm Universe.

Quality issues aside, not everyone who makes IP brickfilms is out to "pander" to a mass audience.

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Re: Are original brickfilms a dead art?

Yes, looking back now I agree it was wrong for that to be implied as the primary reason at some point earlier in the thread. I agree with what you have said, and there is nothing wrong with it; I like to think most people would agree. Hopefully this thread won't turn into an "IP vs. original" debate, but stay on topic as just discussing the current state of non-IP brickfilms and how and where to find them.

Re: Are original brickfilms a dead art?

Something I just noticed about the BFG festival 2017 Best Film nominees is that they are half non-IP and half IP-based. A nice balance there, in a determination of quality rather than visibility.

Re: Are original brickfilms a dead art?

Funny to read that topic, 'cause I've noticed that "zombie" brickfilm seemed quite popular too mini/bigsmile  (Don't know why)…..
Is there any hope to have an audience while making original brickfilms (trying to promote actively a channel). I still find some brickfilms like this one : https://youtu.be/ISlAOLv9oM4 with more than 1M views since the begining of the year, even this one with less fluidity has a decent number of views:  https://youtu.be/Jq0nOSe-W2E 
But it's true that some even greater brickfilms have sometime REALLY low audience. What make those brickfilms quite popular compare to other ones? Any clue? mini/eek

Last edited by Nounours Production (June 24, 2018 (02:17pm))

Re: Are original brickfilms a dead art?

A lot of it might come down to people having trouble finding inspiration for more original ideas. Some might just really want to animate but don’t know WHAT to animate. As many users have already stated, IPs have the characters, locations etc already laid out for you.