Topic: Brickfilm of the Week: Men O' War (April 3, 2015)

This week’s Brickfilm of the Week is Men O' War by Isaac Botkin.

Traditionally, nearly all brickfilms are made with actual, physical LEGO (or similarly) pieces, using stop-motion to make the characters and objects move. Over the years however, brickfilms made with digital LEGO and computer animation have been made. Men O’ War, animated by Isaac Botkin, is one of the most impressive CGI brickfilms. Released in 2006, this brickfilm made a splash and was eventually nominated for a Best Visual Elements award in the 2006 Brickfilms Achievement in Motion Pictures Awards. This is Isaac Botkin’s only brickfilm, and was made with the help of many other members of the Botkin family.


Watch Men O' War on YouTube

http://i.imgur.com/OnS8Gil.png

SPOILERY DISCUSSION BELOW!

Men O’ War utilizes its CGI world well, with impressive CGI waves of water all rendered to look like LEGO. This effect would be nearly impossible to pull off in stop-motion without spending hours on a single frame, but thanks to CGI the effect is impressive (and would even be seen many years later in The LEGO Movie, though the direct influence of this brickfilm is unknown).  Except for minor liberties (the same liberties taken by The LEGO Movie like head tilting), the movement of the minifigures is true to actual minifigue movement. The story is fun and reminiscent of a fun children’s cartoon, and the original music and excellent sound design draw us into the world. Those two doubt CGI brickfilms are true brickfilms should look no further than Men O’ War.

What are your thoughts on Men O’ War? What did you like about it? How do you think the use of CGI made things easier or harder to accomplish, compared to stop-motion? Did you have a favorite moment?

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: Men O' War (April 3, 2015)

That was a great film. The 3D artist inside me wants to go make my own CGI brickfilm now. The story was nice too, simple, but well done. Obviously, the animation is kind of primitive compared to the stuff we can make today, but it is extremely well done for its time.

How do you think the use of CGI made things easier or harder to accomplish, compared to stop-motion?

I would think that CGI would actually be harder than traditional stop-motion. With CGI, you have to make all the LEGO brick models (then build them into creations), add materials, do all of the lighting (simulating how real like would act), animate, render (multiple layers), and edit. With stop-motion, you can just build, simply light, animate, and edit. However, the animation process in stop-motion often takes a lot longer. I guess it all evens out in the end, there are pros and cons to both stop-motion and CGI.

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Re: Brickfilm of the Week: Men O' War (April 3, 2015)

rioforce wrote:

That was a great film. The 3D artist inside me wants to go make my own CGI brickfilm now. The story was nice too, simple, but well done. Obviously, the animation is kind of primitive compared to the stuff we can make today, but it is extremely well done for its time.

How do you think the use of CGI made things easier or harder to accomplish, compared to stop-motion?

I would think that CGI would actually be harder than traditional stop-motion. With CGI, you have to make all the LEGO brick models (then build them into creations), add materials, do all of the lighting (simulating how real like would act), animate, render (multiple layers), and edit. With stop-motion, you can just build, simply light, animate, and edit. However, the animation process in stop-motion often takes a lot longer. I guess it all evens out in the end, there are pros and cons to both stop-motion and CGI.


I agree! Basically everything but the water could be easily done in stop-motion.

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: Men O' War (April 3, 2015)

Notice how every shot features smooth camera movement, even if subtle. That would be practically inconceivable in stop-motion. It's easy to take for granted but really gives the film a more professional feel. The story could have been told with real models in theory, but it wouldn't have been nearly as grand. I mean, would anyone have that much space or be able to actually build that island and waterfall?

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: Men O' War (April 3, 2015)

I think with CGI there's a lot of things you can cheat on as far as animation goes (looping walk cycles would be a BIG one), but from my experience it generally takes me longer; partially because I can go back and tweak it until I'm very nearly satisfied. If I wanted to do that with stop-motion I generally had to reshoot the whole thing.

"[It] was the theme song for the movie 2010 first contact." ~ A YouTuber on Also Sprach Zarathustra
CGI LEGO! Updated occasionally...

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: Men O' War (April 3, 2015)

This was really well done.  I thought the music was exceptional in addition to the effects.

formerly 0DonkeyKong

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: Men O' War (April 3, 2015)

Largely nostalgic, with rich visuals and smooth animation, Men O'War feels like a cutscene to a LEGO computer game that one might have played way back when (you know, when there was still a such thing as LEGO computer games). It highlights a golden age in the lifespan of a classic line of LEGO sets and proves that one's imagination knows no bounds. A fantastic family collaboration, Men O'War is overflowing with breathtaking spectacle and grandeur. If you're a fan of LEGO, it'll almost feel like you're a kid again when you watch this.

Have you seen a big-chinned boy?

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: Men O' War (April 3, 2015)

I really love the water in this. Tried to mimic it in my 'What's in a LEGO brick?' video but this looks so much better. It was neat how they went with a similar approach in The LEGO Movie.

Mickey wrote:

Largely nostalgic, with rich visuals and smooth animation, Men O'War feels like a cutscene to a LEGO computer game that one might have played way back when (you know, when there was still a such thing as LEGO computer games). It highlights a golden age in the lifespan of a classic line of LEGO sets and proves that one's imagination knows no bounds. A fantastic family collaboration, Men O'War is overflowing with breathtaking spectacle and grandeur. If you're a fan of LEGO, it'll almost feel like you're a kid again when you watch this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCJyGy6AFJo

http://i.imgur.com/wcmcdmf.png

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: Men O' War (April 3, 2015)

Sméagol wrote:
Mickey wrote:

Largely nostalgic, with rich visuals and smooth animation, Men O'War feels like a cutscene to a LEGO computer game that one might have played way back when (you know, when there was still a such thing as LEGO computer games). It highlights a golden age in the lifespan of a classic line of LEGO sets and proves that one's imagination knows no bounds. A fantastic family collaboration, Men O'War is overflowing with breathtaking spectacle and grandeur. If you're a fan of LEGO, it'll almost feel like you're a kid again when you watch this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCJyGy6AFJo

Men O'War
Rated PG for action violence
Now available

mini/tongue

Have you seen a big-chinned boy?

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: Men O' War (April 3, 2015)

I love this movie! I am pretty sure I saw this before I really got into physical brickfilms, so for me, even though it was CG it was one of my first exposures to Lego movies. I still didn't first see it until probably 2009 though.

On a technical level, I find it really well done. While its true that the capability of creating better looking CG is far greater now, I have yet to see any CG brickfilm (made by just a couple of people, obviously The LEGO Movie is not being counted...) that is more cohesively done to a high quality level like this one. Nothing really stands out as being poorly done in any way really. The animation is good, the effects cool, the sets well built, the lighting and compositing well done, etc. I really like the voice acting and score also.

I think my favourite moment would probably be the shot beneath decks of the ship. A shot like that really enhances the "immersive" aspect of the movie in my opinion. They also used the famous Wilhelm scream. I mean, what's not to love? mini/bigsmile

To anyone who might be interested, there is a significant amount of "making of" stuff on Isaac Botkin's personal website here: Men O’ War