This is such a tricky topic, as the landscape of video sharing and monetization seem to be an ever-evolving entity, especially on YouTube. I'm less and less inclined to shame IP-based brickfilms because, in my adult years, I can't exactly fault people for wanting to earn a few bucks off of something they've poured a lot of time and passion into, and for better or worse, that's the best way to get attention and viewership. To echo what Aqua said, LEGO has also leaned pretty heavily into their licensed product lines in the last few years, so access to making videos around Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, etc. is easier than ever.
That said...I think the one thing that I would fault IP-based brickfilms for is the oversaturation of them - when it seems like EVERYONE is out there making Star Wars/Marvel/DC/etc. films, they run the risk of becoming a dime-a-dozen enterprise, especially if most of them, sadly, have little to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack. That's not true of all of them, though - just take one look at a film like Forrest Whaley's Captain America: Nazi Zombies and you'll see just how much care and attention goes into every frame. I may be biased because I was a small part of that project myself, but for my money, it's one of the best-designed brickfilms ever made. That is an IP brickfilm that feels like there's a true director with a vision behind it.
All that to say, though, if I were to rattle off a list of brickfilms over the years I'd consider the very best and the most influential, I'm not sure if a single one based on a popular IP (outside of Star Wars, which has been around the longest) would make my shortlist. I grew up in the era of brickfilming before the IPs really became a thing, and I watched a number of independent animators flourish and grow as storytellers, and craft some truly stunning and beautiful stories often of their own creation. There's always going to be something particularly special about that to me. Like I said before, with a few exceptions, the swath of IP-based brickfilms on YouTube can all tend to feel a little dime-a-dozen, but its the original films that I believe will have the lasting legacy, if they're lucky enough to find their audience.
Finding an audience was less of a concern back in the day when YouTube was still this fledgling little website as opposed to the behemoth it is now, and for most of us, we were just a bunch of kids and young adults hanging out on a little online forum making films for one another. There was no real pretense of "viewership" on a large scale outside of the friends and other regulars we had on the site, and I think that's what granted us the ability to take greater risks or stretch ourselves creatively. The rise of YouTube and the advent of monetization has changed that forever, and again, I don't fault anyone for wanting to build an audience for something they're passionate about, but I think the unfortunate side-effect of that evolution is that "original" brickfilms can now seen more as a risk or a liability than an asset, at least to those for whom viewership and viral potential are the higher priority.
Personally, I'd love to see original brickfilms make a boom again, especially now. YouTube is definitely no longer the haven it used to be for animators, but I observe that more and more young brickfilmers having greater access to professional-grade equipment, heads and shoulders above the webcameras and Windows Movie Maker-driven films that a lot of us grew up watching and making ourselves years ago. I think if people could put those resources and evolved filming/editing techniques to good use, we could see some truly special original films start to be put out again.
Last edited by MindGame (June 9, 2018 (10:56am))