A few days ago, my co-author uploaded the fourth of five behind-the-scenes videos for four commercials his company produced for the LEGO Group last year, collectively referred to as the “Red Brick Saga.” As an animator, these “making of” videos are, in some ways, more enjoyable that the four branded shorts. Not only does David explain many of the cool tricks and techniques used in each short, but we get to see his team at work, which helps remind us of the countless painstaking hours that went in to each of these 30-second short videos.
But since this is a review, I should probably talk about the actual videos rather than the behind-the-scenes features. Each 30-second short features a different product line that was on shelves in summer 2011: Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, Alien Conquest, and Star Wars. The connecting thread is a red 2×4 brick that flies through each setting indiscriminately wreaking havoc, much like a mischievous pixie. Each video has a madcap pace, rushing from scene to scene with little explanation or closure. Did Jack Sparrow escape safely? Did the humans fight off the alien invasion? No time for answers, the red brick is off on another adventure!
While the shorts may not provide much narrative substance, there is plenty of spectacle to enjoy over repeat viewings. The animation is so fast and buttery smooth, you may not appreciate how good it is until you see some of it slowed down in the behind-the-scenes videos (e.g. the brick-built explosions). The Alien Conquest short is full of great “blink and you’ll miss it” moments like the screaming crowd running away from the tripod walker. The design of each short is clean, professional, and suited to the subject matter. The Star Wars short does an excellent job recreating the iconic Death Star hanger (the lighting of the walls is particularly impressive), and you have to love the tiny bricks circling around the dazed Darth Vader’s head. Fans of the licensed properties will notice cameos from popular characters. The hallway scene in the Harry Potter short is particularly notable for this, but careful viewers will also notice a white Boba Fett in the Death Star hanger. As always, the Paganomation team uses LEGO bricks in inventive ways, such as a simple hinge brick to represent birds flying in the distance in the Pirates of the Caribbean short.
All told, there’s a lot of detail packed into a short amount of time. Which is another reason it’s best to mull over them while watching the behind-the-scenes videos 😉