Topic: Brickfilming Discussion Week 12: The Spoken Word

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.”

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This week’s discussion topic:

What are your thoughts on relying on dialog to tell a story?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using dialog in films? What about using no dialog and instead relying entirely on the visuals? What is gained, and what is lost?


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
Week 11: Learn from the Best

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!

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 12: The Spoken Word

With one or two notable exceptions (Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and a few others) dialogue-free films with any kind of plot at all very quickly become mime melodrama. It's difficult for me to look at some films from the silent era without either getting exasperated or seeing humour in all the wrong places.

But wordy expositions are equally annoying, as is leaden dialogue between two or more participants with no interesting visuals. So "Show, don't tell" is a good motto to have in front of you while you are making films, especially brickfilms, where nuances of expression are not possible. My favourite brickfilm is "Droits d'Auteur/or Copyright" which has a great mixture of action, dialogue and humour, with an interesting plot. Difficult to see that working without sound.

Last edited by jahnocli (July 28, 2014 (10:02am))

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 12: The Spoken Word

I believe that words are as important as actions. It often comes to words leading to action. In films good dialogue usually leads up to action. Too much dialogue can be boring, too much action can be boring. I was watching a video about Quentin Tarantino and it really occurred to me that yes his films are full of real violence, but it's mindless. He uses dialogue to build the tension, as do many filmmakers but he does it well. (Note: I haven't seen a Tarantino film so go ahead and say that I have no place to say this, but I have seen individual scenes. From that I can see how words very much lead to action.) Using words to put butterflies in the stomach of the audience to build suspense until finally, Boom! The action starts, the words paid off.

But again, too much dialogue can ruin a film. I'm not sure that too much action can kill a film, because humans have a fascination with explosions and loud noises. A film with lots of that may not be ruined, but it will get a reputation (See any Michael Bay film).

Long winded and repetitive, what I'm trying to say is words are as important as actions.

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Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 12: The Spoken Word

Some thoughts on dialog and Quentin Tarantino, Tarantino is a writer who is very good and what he does, but he understands that film is a visual medium whereas a director like Kevin Smith who is a good writer but just points his camera at his actors almost as if it's an afterthought. Words cannot describe how much I hate Kevin Smith, he creates radio plays and accidentally leaves a video camera running as his actors go through there lines, whereas Tarantino's dialog is accompanied be excellent camera work and editing.

If you use dialog they need to be used as a way to support the visual aspects of the film, they should not be used to fully carry the project. When I do a voice acting session, what I find is I end up cutting out a lot of unnecessary dialog, when you are writing out a project you often find that you write in things that describe the scene which should untimely be shown, but once you start saying them out-loud those sort of things become obvious choices for cutting.

This is why I prefer to do voice acting sessions with my actors, when you hear to people talking to each other the words that might be used descriptively in a writing context cease to make sense, if you don't have the luxury of directing your voice actors you could probably get around this by recording temporary voices, ideally with you and a friend, before you send your lines to your voice actors. Your script might say, "Bob, look at this book I found" but as you speak to your friend you might find that just saying, "Look at this!" or even "Look!" have a better flow then all the unnecessary verbiage. And I know a lot of folks are pretty conservative about strong language  but sometimes you can take a longish sentence and convey it's entire meaning with more impact by using one well placed expletive.

Using less dialog is an art, and that's why many of the early silent films are harder for some people to watch, many of the other early directors did not have the visual vocabulary of the legends like Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton. But if you look at films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, There Will Be Blood,  Wall-E or UP you can see that visual storytelling can still be used to great effect.

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 12: The Spoken Word

Silent films are proof that you don't need much dialogue, if any, to tell a decent story. However, words, just as with music an visuals, can be very powerful. Things such as narration - which relies mainly on showing visual elements while an unseen person talks - can really add to a film, especially ones that are based on books, and need to regain some elements that were originally in the book, but, could not be carried over to the silver screen. - Brickfilms are no exception to this.

The film I was making for BRAWL (Which, sadly, I wasn't able to finish in time - and may never actually complete) relied mainly on two characters chatting together; It was a dialogue driven story. Instead of relying on specifically "great" characters, situations, or stunts, I instead intended to have the main focus be on several conversations - developing a greater picture in the end. (a development, I'd still like to share with you all in a film eventually)

However, this isn't to say that dialogue should be the focus of a story. The focus should be on what will best benefit the film. If you have a story, who's characters both talk with lisps, and both are very angry at each other, dialogue would best be kept to a minimum. (Unless used for comedic effect, such as in the Looney Tunes classic, The Scarlet Pumpernickel) The same is true for the other end of the spectrum - If you're making a film that features great historical figures, such as Abe Lincoln, Michelangelo, and Ghandi, all together in a time machine - you'd really be ignorant to not have them discuss and debate.

Overall, you should use dialogue, as with all other elements of film, to benefit your brickfilms in the best way possible, whether that's using a lot of dialogue, or using very little.

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 12: The Spoken Word

This is a topic that I think about a lot, since my own series is very dialogue heavy.

My 3 favorite Brickfilm series span the full spectrum: joe Brickmond, Nightly News At nine, the films of Michael Hickox (sp?).  Joe Brickmond is a dialogue-heavy series, and much of the humor and drama develop out of it.  It's still highly visually interesting and entertaining e ven if you're not hearing the audio.

On the completely other side of the spectrum are the ?Michael Hickox films.  The dialogue is very sparse, which causes the director to rely mostly on visuals, and also close focus on comedic timing.  His films do so well and almost elevate the artistic level of Lego animation.

In the middle is Nightly News at nine.  A very funny series but action packed.  The level and detail of animation is almost dizzying, yet there is a lot of dialogue and dialogue-based humor.  Though I hate the term, becuase it's almost never true literally, it's a "must-watch" series.

My own series is focused on writing, and much of the humor is dialogue-based.  I take a much different approach because I try to pattern a typical sitcom as closely as possible.  This means that there are a lot of rudimentary scenes without a lot of visual action.  A funny concept came about when my brother and I were joking around in the early 1990s, when Rush Limbaugh had a television program.  My brother said that Rush could come out with a cartoon, which would be exactly like his TV show, only animated.  It was funny to us because the show was mainly him sitting at his desk talking, with a bunch of books and a sailboat on a shelf behind him, or showing a clip of a politician saying something dumb.  Anyway, I think about that joke a lot, because I know that watching a sitcom is one thing, but watching a group of Lego people talking for 20 minutes in one room is another.  I try to keep my work visually interesting by changing the camera views a lot, something I've increased in the episode in progress.

Each type of film: visual, talkative, and in-between, has its own benefits, weaknesses, and animation challenges.

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

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 12: The Spoken Word

I know Michael Hickox used to go without dialogue, and music, for that matter. But, his newer films include a multitude of both. And he's just recycling his older films for sequels: i.e. "LEGO Pizza Delivery 5", "LEGO School 2". Plus, I swear he stole the idea of his "LEGO Christmas Special" from a few years back from one of my older films.

Anyways, I've heard multiple opinions on this. Films like The Dark Knight and The Lion King can have splendid cinematography, and an exciting storyline, as well as some powerful (and quotable) dialogue that can compliment those films perfectly. A fellow Boy Scout in my troop actually believes he's Batman. As a matter of fact, his Snapchat declares him as "the real Batman".

But, don't go stalking him! mini/tongue

On the other hand, stories can be beautifully told with little to no dialogue. I've heard great things spoken about the now-gone Cartoon Network programme, Samurai Jack...mostly from WatchMojo.com on YouTube. mini/lol They say how the dialogue is very rare, but they make every letter count when the characters on the show do speak. And, the dialogue compliments the awesome animation/art design perfectly.

Wall-E is another example I've heard about a lot, mostly from members of these forums. The first half can be visually impressive and commonly heartfelt. And the only real dialogue we hear from the characters is "EVE!" and "Wall-E!".

But, when it comes to brickfilms, The Dandelion, by Plastic Planet Productions, is a cleverly put-together brickfilm. While it feels like some old Disney cartoon, it's a pretty funny concept, with only a few sound effects and some music to keep it from being completely silent. Another film of his, LEGO Love, is only thirty-eight seconds long, and it's--if not heartbreaking, literally--hilarious. A very well done brickfilm.

So, I think I've gotten the point across now. To sum up, a lack of dialogue can tell a great story. But, if used effectively, using dialogue can do so, just as well.

Have you seen a big-chinned boy?

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 12: The Spoken Word

I think it really just depends on the style you are going for. For example, if you are going for a mysterious film, then generally you would want to lean towards little to no dialogue, but if you are going for a comedy, then generally you lean towards more dialogue. I am NOT saying this is ever true, but that seems to be traditional for some people. I, however, love writing scripts with that scheme the other way around mini/smile I am really enjoying everyones' thoughts on this thread!

Last edited by Gentry Studios (July 29, 2014 (12:53pm))

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