Topic: Brickfilming Discussion Week 3: Brickfilms With Licensed Themes

Welcome to the Weekly Bricks in Motion Filmmaking & Brickfilming Discussion thread!
These threads are designed to inspire discussion, debate and discourse on the topics of filmmaking, brickfilming, storytelling and LEGO. Each week I will start a new thread with a new discussion topic. Everyone is welcome to contribute as long as you have something thoughtful to say. Paragraphs are encouraged! If you are going to participate in this thread, please keep the discussion civil and refrain from pointless jokes, image macros, or “memes.”

Please note I have shortened the topic title to allow for more flexibility in each week's title.

Please feel free to continue to contribute to the previous discussion threads as well. Just because they are older doesn't mean they aren't relevant any more!

Previous Discussions:
Week 1: Why LEGO?
Week 2: Dealing with the Mockers

This week’s discussion topic:

What are your thoughts on the current trend of brickfilms featuring the IP (intellectual property) of established brands, such as Superheroes, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and others? Do you think this ultimately beneficial or detrimental to the hobby overall?

Like any hobby, brickfilms are influenced by other pop culture. Sometimes this takes the form of a quick joke, and sometimes an entire brickfilm is based around a particular IP. This isn’t a new trend. Brickfilms that use already established IPs have been around essentially as long as brickfilms have been around, thanks to the launch of LEGO Star Wars in 1999. However, with the rise of YouTube, brickfilms that use popular IPs always attract more views, and LEGO’s increased focus on licensed themes has also encouraged the trend. Please share your thoughts on this.

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 3: Brickfilms With Licensed Themes

I have no problem with licensed theme brickfilms, as long as they're done well. That's basically my rule for all brickfilms, whether they're original property or not.

The only issue is that with the rise in the popularity of brickfilmers like Forrestfire101, filmyguy and most recently Brotherhood Workshop - all of whom I hold in high regard - YouTube has become increasingly saturated with people trying to copy the formula, and by people I mean (and this is probably going to sound mean) kids who take 20 frames and expect to get thousands of views. For ages, that gave licensed theme brickfilms a bad name here on BiM, and I felt awkward trying to do a Batman brickfilm when there was such a negative reaction.

As far as viewing them goes, I tend to stick to animations I know will be technically impressive, such as those by Forrestfire101, while I go to other brickfilmers for originality and characterisation. Brotherhood Workshop's animations are breathtaking but simple; they're enjoyable, but still not a patch on something like Unrenewable.

I personally am currently working on a series for BrickUltra called Avengers Tower, which is basically just a chance to put my collection of Marvel minifigures to use. I also plan to resume my Young Istari project at some point, from last Halloween, which is a bunch of short-but-sweet Tolkien parodies. The reason? Well, like any hobby, brickfilming is about working on projects that you want to work on. While I have lots of scripts ready to animate that are original stories and characters, and I'm champing at the bit to get them made, I also really want to do a Spider-man animation, or an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. animation. It's not something I can easily explain, but I think it's for the same reason I bought the sets (and the additional figures that I found on ebay, most recently Loki and Eric Savin) - the appeal of having a LEGO Iron Man, or Thor, or Batman, or Luke Skywalker, or Captain Jack Sparrow. Brickfilming's only an extension of play (in a sense) so it's only a logical step to go from buying Batman LEGO to animating Batman LEGO.

Doing it for the views is something I'm a little bit guilty of, but I wouldn't even be doing that if I didn't enjoy making IP animations. I've been doing Avengers Tower for another channel and it's got more exposure than it would have done on my account, which is great (just over 3000 views in two months is good, for me). Ideally, I'd love it if the series could bring in more of a viewership - hook people in with the stuff they're familiar with, like Captain America, and then they'll be interested in watching some of your other, original videos. My most viewed video was about four years ago (I think) - a Green Lantern animation that raked in 200,000 views, so it's worth thinking about if you want to be noticed. However, I would strongly advise ever making a brickfilm solely to get viewed, as that way lies disappointment and the animation itself tends to be bland and, well, it's just not the right reason to be making a brickfilm.

Like any hobby, it's important that you enjoy yourself, and if doing the odd licensed theme brickfilm - or entirely licensed theme - is what you want to do, then go for it. I do, and I love it. To me, there's honestly nothing wrong with doing a Star Wars or Batman brickfilm if that's what you enjoy. For me, it's a way of havign fun animating, let's say a fight scene, in order to hone my animation skills, without having to worry too much about prior characterisation. Plus, the odd reference, bit of name-dropping or even frame replication from the actual movie can be quite fun.

All this coming from the guy who started the no-licensed-theme BrickFilm Cinematic Universe #lol . I plan to continue with all of that alongside licensed theme projects: up soon are vampire owls, more conquistador adventures, smiling demons and a genie.

EDIT: As for whether it's beneficial to the hobby I said, YouTube is saturated with kids whose only interest is to copy popular brickfilmers or do the odd animation and then stop. In terms of creativity, it can be detrimental, as a lot of the time licensed them brickfilms can just be shot-for-shot replications of movie trailers or clips. Though many are done well, a lot are not and also don't encourage any kind of creative writing ability.

The balance could be to use licensed characters but then build a story from that. I'd like to cite some of Atlas Animationz's work for that - the guy's done a series of Marvel brickfilms that may be predictable in parts, or quite simple, but the dialogue is mostly pretty strong (Spider-man's feels like it's straight out of the comics) and I was really hooked on later episodes. Overall, what he's produced is a lot more interesting than a "trailer done in Legos", and this kind of brickfilm would, I believe be beneficial to the hobby. It's got the familiarity to draw viewers in, but it's a story into itself and is well-made.

Atlas, if you're reading this, I want to know who voices Tony Stark in your videos.

That is all.

"Nothing goes down 'less I'm involved. No nuggets. No onion rings. No nothin'. A cheeseburger gets sold in the park, I want in! You got fat while we starved on the it's my turn!" -Harley Morenstein

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 3: Brickfilms With Licensed Themes

I think that the fact that LEGO has made licensed themes has had a great impact upon all themes, even the more original ones, and I like this.

As LEGO went along, they slowly, but surely released new pieces allowing more and more detail to ever be put into models, and though we were getting stuff, there was still a lot of stuff we couldn't really do.
However, after the release of themes based off of movies, LEGO started having to make a lot of new pieces since an extra level of detail was necessary to appropriately recreate scenes and characters from movies.  And now we have all kinds cool pieces like weird curved things and we can add all sorts of delightful detail with that.

As brickfilms, though, they can be good, though I do tend to favour original ideas, not some weird thing with Star Wars characters.
Of course, I started out making bad Star Wars videos, but I've moved on since then.  After I'm done with my large-scale Batman film I'm planning upon never making a non-original brickfilm ever again.  Though, I might make an exception for a short project, but I'm a little bit annoyed with the fact that I've devoted a few years of my life to making a gigantic unoriginal film, and I keep procrastinating on it so the quality will be drastically inconsistent throughout the film, and at the end, probably very rushed.

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 3: Brickfilms With Licensed Themes

I don't think it really matters  whether a brickfilm is uses a licensed theme or not.  As long the brickfilmer makes a creative and enjoyable brickfilm, I say go for it. 

I think Brotherhood Workshop is a good example of a brickfilmer that uses licensed themes to make very good brickfilms.  Fancy Pants also makes excellent brickfilms without original themes.

The bottom line, make great brickfilms with whatever sort of theme you prefer.

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 3: Brickfilms With Licensed Themes

Licensed themes do usually pull in views, out of my top ten videos, #1 and #3 are Batman and Star Wars respectively. The other seven are non-licensed, but those two make up about 40% of my total video views.

I'm certainly not against using those themes, but like Jampot said, only if it has an original/creative story that is based on, and expanding on, those characters/locations. I'd also like to add that I much prefer it when videos stay true to the tone and feel of the source, and honor the characters by keeping them closely aligned to the "original" material. Using licensed characters that act completely out of character kinda defeats the point.
(Though I was guilty of doing that in my early days.)

I think each category has unique needs/strengths, and that neither one is "wrong." But also that it's better to have a high-quality story and production values, and that it's something you enjoy, than anything else. People shouldn't restrict themselves to one or the other simply because something is or is not original to their own brain.

That being said, with such an over-saturation of licensed videos, it's harder to make yours stand out and seem creative, and it may be easier to tell your own story with your own characters. I encourage brickfilmers to try both, and see which one best fire their imagination and plays to their own styles/strengths, and go with that. But I also recommend newer animators to stay away from licensed properties until they can really do them justice.

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 3: Brickfilms With Licensed Themes

I don't think that the IP sets are harmful to brickfilming, but, they aren't helpful, either...

For the LEGO company, getting the license to use other branded property, and using it to promote your (LEGO's) product is genius, and, as a fellow business-savy person, I'm 100% for it. There's no doubt that the Star Wars, Prince of Persia, and Harry Potter themes brought new pieces, and updated out-of-print pieces - another positive. However, from an artist's perspective, IP's can be a little detrimental. To explain, I'll focus on Hollywood first, and then make connections in the brickfilming community on BiM, and Youtube...

As of recent, Sequels and Remakes have been on the rise - More being made more frequently than ever before, AND these films getting very popular, usually very fast. - Though I'm sure not all in Tinseltown are just in it for the money; Sequels and Remakes can seem like just outlets for extra money, especially when the films are just horrendously awful! However, this doesn't stop people from doing it - and getting ahead! (Avatar, weather you love it or hate it, was marketed on James Cameron's name. The new Godzilla, on the popularity of the "classic" horror films, just in a more modern setting.) It seems as if this trend is innate, and people have to "overcome" the urge to continue, rather than "decide" to make more films.

The same applies to brickfilming, especially on Youtube. The most viewed videos are usually ones based around IP's - ForrestFire101 a perfect example. Though, I don't think that making films based on other IP is necessarily bad, (Though, it's technically illegal) at least for kids. I, as many have, I'm sure, made some of my first stories, drawings, and films around other things I knew, instead of creating original things. - I didn't "strive" for original content, nor did I even think to do it. - So, for kids to do this sort of thing, it's understandable, and even, needed to fuel their imaginations.

However, these "popularity hogs" do "steal" views and support that artists creating original content deserve. (And sometimes, need.) But, life is never fair, and, brickfilmers such as myself know to not expect going viral. I know that as long as I put in effort into my projects, and I like doing them, I'll be satisfied... But, I digress.

Personally, I think that these IP themes give inspiration to those without it, bring potential collectors into the market, and provide awesome pieces and sets - even IF this all comes with a cost to the brickfilming community.

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 3: Brickfilms With Licensed Themes

I don't really have a problem with existing IP brickfilms, but I've found that unless they are technically really impressive, I won't watch a brickfilm that just uses the characters from a popular movie. There needs to be some sort of originality involved. I love works of parody, a short that uses existing characters to tell an unrelated joke or to poke fun at the plot of those characters' movie is fine, and something that I enjoy making every once in awhile (I just purchased an Admiral Akbar minifigure for just such an occasion). However there are so many of these sorts of videos that they need something special to make them really engaging. I've found myself not subscribing to brickfilmers of decent quality because all of their films are based off of existing IP's and I just can't be bothered to take the time to watch them.

That being said, there are some very good brickfilms based on Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, etc. What separates them out is the exploration of new characters and stories within those universes created by the filmmaker. Fancypants' Star Wars videos are so good partially because even though their in the universe we know and love, they are about new original characters having new adventures. Brotherhood Workshop throws in a lot of stuff which characterizes the orcs and tells a part of the story we haven't heard before. I feel that these types of films are just as interesting as a fully original brickfilm because their no longer clones of something else, they're original content which is tied into something that already exists.

Of course, fully original brickfilms will always be my favorites, because that's where a lot of creators really shine and make something new and exciting. Also, I have to say, there's a sort of satisfaction I get from creating a single, stand alone film that isn't based off of a movie or another video that I made, that I can never get from a Star Wars brickfilm. I also feel that original brickfilms better embody the spirit of LEGO as a toy, but that's just a philosophical opinion. mini/smile

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 3: Brickfilms With Licensed Themes

for me they're boring no matter what quality they are
like even something like fancypants' the force unleashed was boring to me. granted it was really well done, but it still bored me
i honestly dont have patience for them, im just not interested i guess. its like i can barely stand star wars itself let alone it redone in plastic toys for the millionth time

what could have been: jeffrey and the old man make some robots
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Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 3: Brickfilms With Licensed Themes

I actually have no problem with licensed themes in brickfilms just as long as they're well done, like Jampot said. The Force Unleashed is a great example of that, and there are quite a few other fantastic brickfilms with licensed themes. As a matter of fact, I'm working on a Star Wars themed film right now, and I'm pretty pumped about it.(Whether it gets done or not is a whole different thing mini/tongue )

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 3: Brickfilms With Licensed Themes

In my opinion they are going crazy with all of the themes. I love the original themes (Star Wars, City, Batman, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Spongebob), but I feel that the quality with all the new themes is getting lost in all that $$. By quality I mean, they are getting more and more cartoony. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I've lost interest in being a Lego collector. I don't buy sets anymore, and if I ever need more pieces, I can only see myself ordering off of Bricklink. I used to be really into going to the store and browsing for 10 minutes, just enjoying looking at the things there (and marveling at the price). It could also be an age (and social anxiety) issue, so I'm not entirely sure.

"I wear black even when I'm not animating. I'm like a walking funeral parlor."

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 3: Brickfilms With Licensed Themes

I wish people would use their creative minds to make original works, instead of a brickfilm with licensed themes. Most of you have similar beliefs. But, I truly believe that if someone thinks they can execute a well-thought-out story using these themes, instead of "just another insignificant LEGO Justice League movie" or another comedy short with licensed characters. If they do that, that's fine with me. But, that doesn't mean I would watch that on my own free time. Those sorts of things really don't scream "originality" or "creativity", and they really aren't my cup of tea Minute Maid-brand fruit juice.

Have you seen a big-chinned boy?

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 3: Brickfilms With Licensed Themes

A lot of people are against licensed themes for a good reason: almost all the Brickfilms that spawn from them are not funny/clever.

I don't think this is due to the Brickfilmer, but rather the limitations the Brickfilmer faces. When doing licenced themes, a lot of people tend to stick closely to the source material - which often just makes the film boring because we've seen it all before. I feel really bad when someone makes a well animated Batman film that's just dull.

Of course, its still possible to be good. There are some really good Brickfilms based on licenced themes out there. There's stuff like The Force Unleashed which just doesn't bother to tell a story and instead stages an eye-explodingly amazing action sequence. And there are a few that genuinely are funny. You just have to think more outside the box.

Also, I still think that someone out there could make a really good Batman or Star Wars film. Like, an ultra-serious 20 min Brickfilm thats beautifully short, well animated, well voiced, and with a good script. It IS possible, its just whenever anyone I know has tried it, they've given up.

I really wish more people would make Brickfilms around themes the Lego Company have created. Films just based on Knights Kingdom, Pirate, and Wild West sets tend to be of much better quality - probably because the films maintain the nostalgia and fun that LEGO brings to animation whilst also encouraging more creativity on the writers part.


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Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 3: Brickfilms With Licensed Themes

One thing that detracts from IP brickfilms is the fact that there are already stories and plots associated with them. Often I'll be watching a Lego Star Wars or Batman film, but thinking 'none of this would ever happen'. A really good film adapts itself to the IP it is based on, so that you feel like you're watching something that could genuinely be an Avengers short. This is different for spoofs or parodies, as those aren't ever serious, and I actually think of those less as 'brickfilms' and more as 'humour told with Lego', if you know what I mean. Not that those can't be really excellent in in their own right.

What I'm trying to say is, it's a lot harder to make a standout film based on an IP, because the viewer comes with preconceived ideas about the IP in question. If you can master it, that's great, and I enjoy watching those. Until then, it would be great to see more original stories, or films based on Lego themes as Max Butcher said. Because then you don't have to conform to any expectations of what your film should be like.

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 3: Brickfilms With Licensed Themes

Max Butcher wrote:

Of course, its still possible to be good. There are some really good Brickfilms based on licenced themes out there. There's stuff like The Force Unleashed which just doesn't bother to tell a story and instead stages an eye-explodingly amazing action sequence. And there are a few that genuinely are funny. You just have to think more outside the box.

I agree. Eye candy IP videos always go down well with me, and when I make them this is what I tend to try to do. I'd rather put my creative juices plot and dialogue-wise into something that has my own individual, stylistic stamp on it.

Max Butcher wrote:

I really wish more people would make Brickfilms around themes the Lego Company have created. Films just based on Knights Kingdom, Pirate, and Wild West sets tend to be of much better quality - probably because the films maintain the nostalgia and fun that LEGO brings to animation whilst also encouraging more creativity on the writers part.

Jayem wrote:

It would be great to see more films based on Lego themes. Because then you don't have to conform to any expectations of what your film should be like.

That's one of the things I've been trying to encourage with the BFCU, and I have plans to do more to try and interest people in participating. Because LEGO themes are so vague in terms of actual story and characterisation, it gives you more chance to develop something that's both individual and hugely creative. I can't remember who it was, but I saw this nearly-hour-long Pirate animation that was breathtaking: amazing sets, good solid plot, and generally delightful (except for a teensy bit of clunky dialogue).

Overall, though, I think a lot of what makes an IP brickfilm good or not is up to the filmmaker. Yes it can be harder to make something original, but part of the fun might be finding that original story hidden under the haystack.
"Nothing goes down 'less I'm involved. No nuggets. No onion rings. No nothin'. A cheeseburger gets sold in the park, I want in! You got fat while we starved on the it's my turn!" -Harley Morenstein

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 3: Brickfilms With Licensed Themes

Hmm, I typically like original brickfilms better, but I don't have a caveat with licensed brickfilms. I agree with everyone else on the board when you say that licensed brickfilms tend to be weaker with less story and with more gimmicks, along with the fact of just trying to gain popularity. However, I do think people can still create quality brickfilms with licensed themes. For one, there is already an established story, and while it can be a deterrent, it can also be an enhancer; we don't have to rehash the origins of the characters and the world and we can just enter the story, like a sequel. I wish people would take better care and more time to create a good story/screenplay for these themes (We've been thinking of making a LEGO Star Wars film, mostly due to the crap-load of SW themed sets we have). Any theme, whether it be an original brickfilm, a LEGO original theme, or a film-based theme can be of nice quality if the film maker puts the time and dedication in their work.

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 3: Brickfilms With Licensed Themes

The greatest Brickfilms are those without licensed themes: The Magic Portal, Robota, Nightly News At Nine, Joe Brickmond, the films of Michael Hickox, the films of Mob Deli, etc.  I prefer watching those films, which are totally created out of the mind of the animator.

However, I also love watching animations that allude/spoof/pay tribute to the storylines I love.  The fact that Lego has reached out to acquire so many popular IPs has given children (and the young at heart) an opportunity to immerse their imaginations in those worlds, and by extension, brickfilmers can use these assets to create animations with them that weren't really possible without Lego.

I love these topics of discussion. Keep them going!

"None practice tolerance less frequently than those who most loudly preach it."

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 3: Brickfilms With Licensed Themes

IP videos are the most popular brickfilms on the internet in terms of viewership. On my new channel, the only videos that have over 1000 views at the copyrighted content: Spiderman and inFAMOUS. I plan on making a whole bunch of IP animations during the summer, but it won't be for passion. Heck, I could make a short video of a minifig shooting a gun, title the video "Lego Call of duty", and get 10 000 hits on it. I'll only do it for the revenue. I enjoy making my own original content.

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 3: Brickfilms With Licensed Themes

Here is where I stand, if done really well I'm all for it! I'm a HUGE Star Wars fan, but you can't find hardly any good SW brickfilms. Like Jampot said, you have these 4-10 year olds who film at 4 fps and think they can get 1,000,000 views off of them! That's why I've waited this long to do a SW brickfilm because in my opinion if you can't do a good Star Wars brickfilm DON'T DO A STAR WARS BRICKFILM!!!!!!!! And like Pritchard Studios said, it's better to keep the feel of the theme and respect the characters.

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 3: Brickfilms With Licensed Themes

Thanks @jampot for the shout-out. Iron Man is played by TrevorPalVA.:)

Right, now for the topic at hand. Probably most of you don't know but for the past year and a half or so I've done nothing but IP videos. I have my own superheroes series that's doing fairly well.

I still remember reading before I started all of the mean and hateful comments in the forums about how brickfilmers doing this type of videos are unoriginal and how it's just the same thing over and over again. Yes, some videos have been made and remade (Batman, Star Wars etc) without any improvements. So what? Are you really going to chastise a 10 year old kid for making a Batman video because that's what he loves? Just because it's not a masterpiece? I've seen brickfilmers get overly protective of 'the art of brickfilming' when it comes to IP videos just because it's an IP video. It could have been the best brickfilm ever in the history of brickfilms and it wouldn't have mattered.

I don't get it. What are we protecting? An obscure art form that only a few people use? Without licensed themes, without the LEGO movie, without Hollywood nobody would know that there is such a thing as a stop motion LEGO video. To answer the topic question...YES! licensed themes have helped and are helping the hobby of brickfilming.

But there is another thing that I want to talk about. I've read this many times in the posts...original work/original idea/original video. What is original? An idea that you come up with by yourself? I'm sorry to burst your bubble but, and I'm going to put this in big bold letters, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN ORIGINAL IDEA! Every idea that you have, any glimpse of inspiration is a by-product of something else. Something that you saw, something that you heard, something that you read etc. I urge everyone to read any book on creativity and see that they all say the same thing. Even Mark Twain said this way back when when being accused of plagiarism:

'Oh, dear me, how unspeakably funny and owlishly idiotic and grotesque was that ‘plagiarism’ farce! As if there was much of anything in any human utterance, oral or written, except plagiarism! The kernel, the soul — let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances — is plagiarism. For substantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily use by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral calibre and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing. When a great orator makes a great speech you are listening to ten centuries and ten thousand men — but we call it his speech, and really some exceedingly small portion of it is his.'

So you see, whether you use licensed themes or LEGO themes, you're still plagiarizing something or someone.

I use the super heroes sets because that's what I like. I'm a super heroes nerd. I grew up with the cartoons, I've read the comic books, I've seen the movies and enjoyed every minute of it. I thought to myself: 'wouldn't it be cool if...' and I started writing the scripts, started animating and released the first episode. There were those who complained and said 'not another heroes video' but who cares? I enjoyed what I did and nothing beats that sense of accomplishment when you're done and you upload your video.

Well, that's my 2 cents. Hope I haven't offended anyone. mini/smile

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 3: Brickfilms With Licensed Themes

(Full disclosure; the majority of my brickfilms utilize licensed themes.)

Nathan Wells wrote:

Do you think this ultimately beneficial or detrimental to the hobby overall?

This is a very interesting question. I personally go back and forth on it myself. However, I think the answer is not as simple as it appears.

On one hand, it seems obvious: licensed themes already have a built in fan base. Content managers and website editors tend to be lazy (IMHO) and are always on the lookout for an easy way to drive traffic to their site. A meticulously crafted brickfilm of a scene recreation or trailer reproduction of a hot pop-culture property (that also just so happens to be a licensed theme by LEGO) is more likely to be picked up by any number of outlets in social media and go viral, thereby introducing ‘brickfilms’ to new people, raising both awareness and credibility of the craft. Positive publicity, more awareness, new ‘fans’ – all good news, right?

Unfortunately, once these new ‘fans’ start to look around for more content, they are eventually going to run into an endless stream of ‘light-flickery-set-bumpy-garbled-audio’ blandness of Darth Vader, Batman, and an effeminate Robin running into a sloppy Batcave shouting ‘Batman, Batman!’ It appears that the very thing that brought people into the tent (i.e. a licensed theme), will eventually drive them out; insert your own ‘too much of a good thing’ quote here.

However, I don’t think it’s that simple. The problem is not the use of a licensed theme per se. The problem, in my opinion, is with the content creators themselves. The cold reality is: not everyone is creative, in fact, most people are not creative. If someone creates a bad brickfilm using characters from a licensed theme, I have a hard time believing that they are going to create a good brickfilm using original characters. Thus, I posit that bad brickfilms are detrimental to the hobby and not the use of a licensed theme. (To be clear, I don’t want to offend people, but I would define a bad brickfilm as one with excessive light flicker, set bumps, bad audio and poor story, in that order. Animation, by its very nature, is a visual medium. If something is not watchable, it is bad. Flicker, bumps and poor audio, for me, make something not watchable.)

That leads to the obvious question: why then does it seem that so many bad brickfilms use licensed themes? I believe the answer to that question lies in the demographics of brickfilmers and sales figures of the Lego Group. Lego does not release detailed sales information, but I would venture to guess that the sale of licensed themes far surpasses Lego’s non-licensed themes. Thus, it is my theory that, when someone gets the idea to start brickfilming, the majority of the bricks and minifigs they have around the house are from licensed themes. I think it’s also safe to say that the early works of a budding brickfilmer are going to be their poorest work, both from a visual standpoint and a creative standpoint. Since the barrier to entry for making a brickfilm is so low, almost anyone can make one. You have very young people taking a crack at making brickfilms. So, I believe, you have a very common equation of young, inexperienced brickfilmer with an existing inventory of licensed themes. As a result, I think people tend to equate ‘licensed theme’ with ‘bad brickfilm’, but it is a spurious correlation.

Compounding this issue, I feel that there is very little, if any, self-editing going on by budding brickfilmers. Not every attempt, test, or film needs to be uploaded; or, if it is uploaded, don’t make it public. If you want to elicit feedback, make it unlisted. How many times do you see someone who has grown as a brickfilmer delete or ‘make private’ their old films because they are now embarrassed by the poor quality of their early works? I realize this is easier said than done because someone at 9 years old will not have the same self-awareness as someone at 14 years old.

Thus, in my opinion, the thing that is most detrimental to the hobby is the proliferation of bad brickfilms. Using a licensed theme does not lead to someone creating a bad brickfilm; inexperience, poor tools and lack of creativity lead someone to create a bad brickfilm.

But to the original question; in my opinion, use of licensed themes is a mixed bag; it can grab headlines, creating awareness and publicity for the hobby; but can also over saturate the market and turn people off. However, on balance, assuming you agree with the concepts above, I will conclude it is probably a net positive for the hobby.

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