Topic: Brickfilming Discussion Week 11: Learn from the Best

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 stay on topic and keep your comments civil and respectful of other members.

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
Week 3: Brickfilms with Licensed Themes
Week 4: Challenges Unique to Brickfilmers
Week 5: For Mature Audiences Only
Week 6: Please Like, Comment and Subscribe
Week 7: Areas of Improvement
Week 8: Be Inspired
Week 9: Modding and Mega-Bloks
Week 10: We'll Do it in Post

I've in the middle of moving into my first apartment this week, so I've had very little time to think about new topics. So here's an easy one!

This week’s discussion topic:

List one brickfilm that you think every brickfilmer should watch.
Please explain why you think it is important to brickfilmers, and why it is important to you. Point out particular scenes, animation techniques, storytelling, and anything else you think would be helpful and inspirational to brickfilmers. Please avoid making this another "Best Brickfilms" list, and try to emphasize the artistic importance of the brickfilms, instead of just listing popular brickfilms. Also, please try to select a brickfilm not already featured in this thread by someone else.

PLEASE INCLUDE LINKS TO THE FILMS!

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 11: Learn from the Best

Lego Captain America 2.

While I loathe FF101, I learned so much about how to animate fight scenes from his Captain America 2 film. From camera movement to set design, everything is done well. I highly suggest you watch it now.

The guy who got banned more times than DiCaprio said "f***" in The Wolf Of Wall Street.

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 11: Learn from the Best

Also, I forgot to mention this: please include links to the brickfilms you discuss!

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 11: Learn from the Best

Unrenewable

It's one of my favourite brickfilms, and one of what I would consider the top five brickfilms ever made. Fantastic storytelling and breathtaking visuals. And dat rain effect.

http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/ZoefDeHaas/stuff/sig1.png
"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 streets...now it's my turn!" -Harley Morenstein

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 11: Learn from the Best

I have often preached my thoughts on which Brickfilmers I suggest every brickfilmer know, however, I’ve never really touched upon specific brickfilms in particular. And, in wanting to avoid making “just another list” I tried to narrow down the most inspirational brickfilms that I’ve seen, but could only limit it to two. So, here I go: Two brickfilms I’d recommend to that every brickfilmer watches…

Beast

Now, I don’t want anyone to think that I brought up this Brickfilm just because Nathan Wells made it, and he also, coincidentally, is hosting the BiM weekly discussions. This film is truly a great example of what brickfilmers should strive for during production.

The animation flows so smoothly, every character beautifully walks, runs, and sits. Nathan even did a great rebel-like “wall lean” animation half way through that also shines out in my mind. Not only do these little fine details in leaning, walking, and talking stand out when done well; they enhance the overall feel of the film, making it more aesthetically pleasing to the eye – something that can be a real challenge at 15 fps.

The “talking” animations also enlighten the film, as, there are no lip-synched mouth animations – something that a lot of more modern brickfilmers do. (Such as ForrestFire101) However, I usually don’t like brickfilms that don’t feature mouth animations, as, it’s often easy to lose track of who’s talking, and when. However, Nathan Wells shows that you don’t need flashy post-production skills to make a quality Brickfilm. (Actually, if I remember correctly, Beast was edited solely in Windows Movie Maker…) The fluid hand, arm, and even body movements are just enough to keep the film interesting, and give the animated world a little more pizzazz!

The story is also very complex, especially for something that’s borderline a parody. It’s easy to see that Beast is based around a pretty basic Jekyl and Hyde, or Wolf man type layout. However, Nathan Wells really keeps it fresh with it’s modern setting, motivated characters, and, the rush for a cure for cancer. It perfectly contrasts the classic monster movies that it was inspired by, and, truly shows off what a Brickfilm should do – entertain.

The characters aren’t that deep, but, in only a ten minute Brickfilm, there’s not really much story that can be told to begin with… perhaps with one exception in Grace. And though Grace is also a great Brickfilm, in by defense, I’ve put Beast, along with the next film, above Robinson Wood’s classic. Nathan Well’s film is just as good, goes just as far, and tells just as much of a story as Grace, and yet, Beast is a parody! Thus, I rank the Nathan Wells classic as not only one of my favorite brickfilms over all, but, also, I recommend it to any brickfilmers I meet, having shown it now to over 12 starting out brickfilmers. It was one of the first brickfilms that I saw, and I’m glad it was – Thanks for setting the bar so high Nathan, it’s really helped me to push my own ideas even further in production, and, hopefully, will result in some more great brickfilms pretty soon. mini/smile

My other great recommendation is…

The Gauntlet

What makes Jay Silver’s Brickfilm a masterpiece?

The animation is a little rougher than usually expected of a “great;” the characters often bumbling around pretty messily. The sets are pretty much just solid chunks of gray walls – the only real furnishing being a big black chandelier, which jolts around pretty annoyingly in one shot. Also, the music is a stock royalty-free piece of classical music, “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” I believe. On paper, this looks like it’s just another amateur Brickfilm, nothing special… But, believe me, The Gauntlet is very special!

Starting out in a cell, somewhere in an unnamed mountainous range, the Brickfilm starts out with a bang, literally. Our protagonist breaks a chain, escaping from the dungeon that he’d previously been dwelling in for who knows how long? He runs out, escaping with but the clothes on his back, and a singular stick – his only means of defense within the mazes of the mountain fortress that he is captive in.

As our protagonist runs out a large door, trouble begins. Sure, at first, things are calm, and all, but, soon, we see a shadowed figure watching him. This sinister face seems to have anticipated his captive’s movements, and thusly, summons a large rock creature to follow the man…

For such a simple idea, Jay really runs with it, making for a great little adventure! The sets, though mainly monotone, are shadowed perfectly, making for a perfectly eerie atmosphere surrounding the red-haired escapee. The music, only more so heightening his feelings, and intensifying the building tension.

The animation in this Brickfilm, unlike that of Nathan Well’s Beast, is actually very rugged, showcasing a little more of a “natural” look to the running and chasing scenes in particular. Silver seems to be straying from using any animation cycles, relying on what works in the moment – something that a lot of the early pioneer brickfilmers had to do.

One move that I like, in particular, is the “slide” that the main character does a little over half-way through the Brickfilm. Now being chased by a giant rock-monster, the protagonist speeds around a corner, sliding on the assumed damp ground below. It’s not only a somewhat comical break from the otherwise tense tone of the film, but, it also showcases that Jay Silver really does know what he’s doing. The animation overall is meant to be rugged looking because, well, running for your life isn’t meant to be perfect, nor is it meant to be simplistic… You scramble away, as fast as you can, using all of your energy to escape a following predator with all of your might.

I wonder if Silver ever studied human movements, just as traditional animators usually do. That might explain some of the oddly animated; yet really correct movements that the characters make.

Overall, whenever I talk to newer brickfilmers, older brickfilmers, or even just casual watchers of youtube, I have a list of brickfilms that I always whip out, encouraging them to watch. Nathan Well’s Beast and Jay Silver’s The Gauntlet being two of my personal favorites, as, those are the ones I look back to, and even watch, frame by frame, to help me whenever I’m in a jam animating, writing, or constructing sets! – Something a little ironic as, both brickfilms are about as different as you can get! Beast showcases a lot more on the side of minute details, cycled animation, and perfectionism at its best. The Gauntlet, on the other hand, shows how simplicity can be obtained just through doing things as simple as possible! I like having recommended two films on the opposite ends of the spectrum, as, most will agree, both are really good. Only in learning from them can brickfilmers become great!

https://i.imgur.com/Z8VtGae.png

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 11: Learn from the Best

May The Fourth Be With You

I'm not really for brickfilms with licensed themes, but this one really stuck with me. I enjoy it for the speedy story-telling style it users, the microscale building techniques, and the animation is really good. I like the way the movie goes. It's as if you're actually playing with the LEGO bricks yourself. As if you were the kid in the floor re-enacting the movies. I like how most of the sound effects are home-made. I like the style of story telling because you don't have to wait around and watch minifigs do walk cycles. There are no quiet spots, so it always keeps you interested. I also like the slapstick-ish comedy (like when the house fell in on them and when the big monster ate the spaceship and spit it back out).

Adventures of Max - LEGO Universe

This video is great for many reasons. The first one is because LEGO Universe brought me out of my short Dark Ages from LEGO, and it is a non-dialogue film. It communicates to all people no matter what language. Ok, there are a few English words, but you don't need to know what "Warning" and "3, 2, 1, Goodbye" means to understand the movie. The animation is smooth, and it has a mostly brick built set. It looks like you could be there with them. You don't see over the top of the wall, and the camera angles aren't from high up so it looks like there are really giants controlling the minifigures.

I know that none of the videos I linked were made by LEGO fans, rather they were officially LEGO's videos. But I think the message stays the same. The techniques used in these videos can be used by anybody that makes a stop-motion video.

YouTubeWebsite
https://bricksafe.com/files/rioforce/internet-images/RioforceBiMSig.png
"Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31b

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 11: Learn from the Best

OK, surprised this thread hasn't gotten more attention.

Zombie: Genesis

Nick Durron has really made a name for himself with his films, but if I'm right, this will always be considered his masterpiece. It's a film that really inspired me in my early days, and helped me see some of the great quality brickfilms could achieve.

First off, he takes what sounds like a boring concept, then plays it completely seriously throughout the crazy happenings. This allows you to be immersed into the world, and then laugh at just what is treated as completely normal there. It is dialog-driven, but never gets bogged down or get the feeling of just being a load of exposition. It has a brisk, yet perfect pace, allowing it to jump from subject to subject, yet still allow each to have time to shine.

The visuals help keep things from getting old, and add a lot of the darker humor. And then the animation and effects are to be praised. The high production values elevate this short above most, and show that any idea can be spectacular if enough time and attention are invested.

The film parodies many things in it's almost five minute runtime, but does so in a fresh and unique way. Keeping a long distance between it, and the usual zombie movies/brickfilms that grace the web. It shows that new twists can make old material fun again, and that sometimes not following the crowd by doing something completely off the wall has its rewards.

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 11: Learn from the Best

I don't really have any sort of 'definitive' Brickfilm that everyone needs to see, but I can describe the film that was really my turning point.

My first Brickfilm ever was close to 15 minuets long featuring really bad 7fps animation and sets that were an after thought. However it was made for a high school film festival and our film was one of two entries that made used a nonlinear video editing program and actually had a plot, while it was not a very good one by any means, after watching a bunch of home videos of of teenagers pointing cameras at there friends everyone found it incredibly impressive and we were mini celebrities for a few months.

And then we stumbled across Brickfilms.com and it was a really rude awakening, we were not nearly as good as we thought we were. When a few members of the site watched our film they were not impressed and we started watching what are now considered brickfilming classics.

The film that had the biggest impact for me was probably Chris Salt's Twisted. Not only was the animation far beyond our current efforts but the way the sets were created had a lasting impact on me. The thing about the sets that was so good was that they have implied ceilings, because the wall have built in supports to hold the ceilings up the illusion that the action is taking place indoors is incredibly convincing.

To this day it's something I strive for in my interior set designs, if the ceiling is not shown, I try to imply that it is there so viewers will not question that the shot takes place in a 'real' interior.

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 11: Learn from the Best

The two I recommend are: #1) Anything by this guy, , Michael Hickox Films:

http://www.youtube.com/user/MlCHAELHlCKOXFilms

The dialogue is sparse, but the strength of the stories are in its visuals.  His films are funny, lively, and have perfect comedic timming.  It's not loaded with special effects, but he makes practical use of Lego pieces.

The other, of course, is CJ & A's JOE BRICKMOND.

http://www.youtube.com/user/CJAandPhaleneStudios

I've given my reasons many times, but in short: 1) Funny!  2) Great character development 3) Funny!! 4) Pays homage to classic sitcoms 5) FUNNY!!!!!  6) Overall a well written series with stories you want to rewatch and minifigures you care about.

https://vimeo.com/channels/holdingourown      http://holding-our-own.tumblr.com

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

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 11: Learn from the Best

The Letter (By JamesFM)

This and The Gauntlet are two older brickfilms that really got me interested in the hobby when I was younger. I never got to make brickfilms back then, but these two made me want to brickfilm more than anything!

One of the reasons this film really stands out to me is because it's one of the first brickfilms I saw where I felt for the protagonist. This poor guy just wants to deliver a letter. He has to go through so much before finally getting to that mailbox. And when he finally does make it, well... Just watch and see for yourself.

This is the first time I connected with a character in a brickfilm, even if it was just out of empathy (Or maybe sympathy would be more appropriate) Not a lot of brickfilms have done that for me.

Another thing that really impresses me about this film is the pacing. The way each joke and incident builds continually, until everything ends with a crazy climax, is well constructed. This makes for an entertaining story and a very simple, yet hilarious ending.

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8625/16037138950_5eeda635ce_o.png

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 11: Learn from the Best

The River is an important film to me...

Nikolas was able to tell a story with cinematography, his wonderful cinematography.

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 11: Learn from the Best

Taco Trouble, Taco Trouble, Taco Trouble!!!
If I had my way, this film and Watson's review for it (also on the linked page) would be mandatory reading for every brickfilmer. Not only is it a fantastic film, but I found Watson's words to be eye-opening and they changed my view on filmmaking forever. If you want to know what makes a truly good brickfilm, experience Taco Trouble.

The best ever made? No. But the one you can learn the most from? Absolutely.

https://i.imgur.com/1JxY79v.png

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 11: Learn from the Best

Pirate's Quest

Like Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird), Uncle Cheesedog only ever needed to create one Brickfilm before retiring whilst his legacy remained forever.

Oh, and I guess The Magic Portal and Robota are absolute masterpieces of cinema. BUT THIS IS THE ONE YOU SHOULD WATCH. THIS FILM ABOUT PIRATES THAT MAKES A 'MATRIX' JOKE.

'BUILD' - THAC XIV

YouTube | Twitter | Blog

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 11: Learn from the Best

Because most of the community is probably occupied with BRAWL2014, there won't be a new Discussion Topic for this week. Instead, I'm going to extend this current topic another week.

Happy BRAWLing!

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 11: Learn from the Best

HOW NOT TO ROB A BANK:

http://goo.gl/sgBFcH

Squid's style really has had a huge influence in the brickfilming community, and I feel that this film is the one where his style became truly apparent.

RedBrick1/LegoTrain587 | EXPANSE | A Brickfilm

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 11: Learn from the Best

RedBrick1 wrote:

Squid's style really has had a huge influence in the brickfilming community, and I feel that this film is the one where his style became truly apparent.

Please expand.

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 11: Learn from the Best

Faithless

Couldn't seem to find a YouTube link so I dug through the Wayback Machine. This film is eight years old but still holds up pretty well. One thing it has over many brickfilms is how complete the film is. The story is told well, it's ambitious, large in scope, and has some nice visuals to accompany it all. This was one of my favourites back in the day, largely due to the scale of the film which was very inspirational.

Actually, going through the old Brickfilms.com directory through the Wayback Machine is a great source of excellent brickfilms. I remember searching through pages of each category and being dazzled by the work on display. Good stuff.

https://i.imgur.com/IRCtQGu.jpg

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 11: Learn from the Best

NXTManiac wrote:

Faithless

Couldn't seem to find a YouTube link so I dug through the Wayback Machine. This film is eight years old but still holds up pretty well. One thing it has over many brickfilms is how complete the film is. The story is told well, it's ambitious, large in scope, and has some nice visuals to accompany it all. This was one of my favourites back in the day, largely due to the scale of the film which was very inspirational.

Actually, going through the old Brickfilms.com directory through the Wayback Machine is a great source of excellent brickfilms. I remember searching through pages of each category and being dazzled by the work on display. Good stuff.

I'm dissapointed my new computer can't run the real media program from my old computer because it's 64 bit and a lot of those films back then were uploaded as a .rm or .rmvb file type. mini/sad

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 11: Learn from the Best

I'm actually slowly working on downloading, converting and archiving many of those old brickfilms before they are lost forever. I don't know what I will do with them once I have them archived, but hosting them online at some point might be an option.

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 11: Learn from the Best

Nathan Wells wrote:

I'm actually slowly working on downloading, converting and archiving many of those old brickfilms before they are lost forever. I don't know what I will do with them once I have them archived, but hosting them online at some point might be an option.

Thank you, Nathan. I had tried to do such a task in the past (saving older youtube videos before they were downgraded in quality, and saving some films from brickfilms.com) but, I'd often let my personal preferences get in the way, and would pass up some films... I'm glad that you're doing it - for us brickfilmers who remember and love them, and for the newer generations of brickfilmers to come. mini/smile

I guess that's why you're the Lord of the LEGO, then. mini/wink

https://i.imgur.com/Z8VtGae.png