Topic: Brickfilm of the Week: Zap (May 15, 2015)

This week’s Brickfilm of the Week is Zap by David Betteridge.

Zap is a music video for a song of the same name by the band Ether Real and was commissioned by the band's record label Truelove Records. It is the first known brickfilm that wasn't commissioned by The LEGO Company to receive a wide public release as it was shown by MTV and other music channels upon release. It was created by David Betteridge and is his only brickfilm. Betteridge claims the film was released in 1989, but this is debatable as the song Zap was not released until 1991.

Watch Zap on YouTube


Zap is an important part of brickfilm history. Released sometime between 1989 and 1991, it is one of the earliest known brickfilms of all time. Zap was produced over three and a half months in 1989. Betteridge and co. were given a budget of £3000 which allowed them to shoot on 35mm film and use a hand-cranked camera from 1903, modified to include an animation motor. The LEGO Company did not view Zap favourably and threatened to sue, although they never followed through with this threat.

What are your thoughts on Zap? What did you like about it? What do you think of its place in brickfilm history? Did you have a favorite moment?

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: Zap (May 15, 2015)

The first Brickfilm of the Week I've never heard of, let alone seen! I was rather impressed with the quality, as it's a lot better than most of the 80s' era brickfilms that have surfaced. Liked the lights and colors and large scale of some of the scenes.

35mm film looks pretty.

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: Zap (May 15, 2015)

It's so 80s it almost hurts, haha.

But that was a very enjoyable brickfilm - bright, colorful, and energetic. It's always fascinating to see brickfilms from the past and see how the medium has and hasn't evolved since then.

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: Zap (May 15, 2015)

Really fun and whimsical music video which will leave you still grinning long after viewing.
You can see some slight influences from Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer and Big Time.
It's also interesting to see a brickfilm actually make it to MTV.
I do wonder how many kids were inspired by Zap and if there are other brickfilming treasures yet to be discovered?

On a side note...
After watching this video again, I'd also have to agree with Nathan on the 1991 date stamp for Zap.
At the (0:51) mark, you will see a 'blue monster toy wearing sunglasses' in the background.
These toys were called Koosh-Kins. The toys were released around summer/fall 1991, and the comic book was released in October 1991. The duplo minifigure at (1:05) is from various duplo sets ranging from 1986-1992 release dates.

"Tell stories that matter to you, not stories that'll sell." - Stephen Tobolowsky


Re: Brickfilm of the Week: Zap (May 15, 2015)

dewfilms wrote:

After watching this video again, I'd also have to agree with Nathan on the 1991 date stamp for Zap.

Detective Dew is on the case!

As a side note, I'd like to point out that most of the text for today's Brickfilm of the Week was copied verbatim from the Brickfilms Wiki page on Zap, which was written by sillypenta. So all research credit goes to him!

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: Zap (May 15, 2015)

I remember seeing this somewhere awhile back and being really confused by what I was watching, though I don't think I realized that it was quite as old as it is. Now that I know the context of the film I'm a little less confused, but I'm still not sure I really like it. Then again I was born in the mid 90's, so I was never part of the 80's culture from which the film comes, and have never really been a fan of 80's music videos in the first place.  It's certainly an important film in the history of brickfilms.

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: Zap (May 15, 2015)

I never thought I would see a Brickfilm that could be accurately described as the Pyroland equivalent of Apocalypse Now, but I suppose it says something for the flexibility and creative potential of this medium that such a thing exists.  It does have a very 80s feel, although the sets and bright colours (and weirdness in general) hold up surprisingly well even today.

Interesting to note that while the actual animation is smooth, a lot of it looks rather repetitive, simplistic, even mechanical.  This being the early days of Brickfilming, it's not particularly surprising, given that such things as a codified walk cycle didn't exist, but the range of movement of the minifigs feels rather a bit limited in comparison to, say, The Magic Portal.  It's particularly noticeable at the beginning, where it looks like some of the animation might even have been looped.  Perhaps the film-makers didn't want to spend more time/money/film on animation than necessary (though one would expect the £3000 to cover these sort of expenses).  Not that this is necessarily a bad thing (it actually adds quite well to the overall feel of the film); but it's interesting to compare to other classic and modern Brickfilms.

Overall the quality and technical aspects still look very good, especially considering this was shot before digital frame capture/editing existed.  There's also a blend of live-action and animation that is particularly interesting to see, especially since it does not appear often in Brickfilming.  (I have to admit that I'm mildly disturbed to by all those brightly painted heads, though.)

Retribution (3rd place in BRAWL 2015)

&Smeagol      make the most of being surrounded by single, educated women your own age on a regular basis in college
AquaMorph    I dunno women are expensive

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: Zap (May 15, 2015)

Should we bring back these topics?

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: Zap (May 15, 2015)

I would like to bring it back in some way. Perhaps something every two weeks.