The Machinima Interactive Film Festival hosted a video contest recently; and, as with many online video contests, there were a few LEGO-animated entries amongst the ranks…
First up, in the ACTION/DRAMA ANIMATION category, is “LEGO Portal 2 Part 1/2” by Kooberz Studios. Director Alex Kobbs has made a name for himself creating LEGO versions of popular video game properties (you can check out more on his YouTube channel), so in many ways, this contest was tailor-made for his work. There are a few neat animation techniques in the video, but what I was most impressed with was the sets — some really cool, detailed renditions of Portal 2 environments and backgrounds, and a ball-jointed GLaDOS that works really well.
(Full disclosure: I’ve only played through Portal 1, though 2 is sitting on my shelf, waiting for a day when I actually have some free time.)
Of course, like many LEGO-animated video game adaptations, there’s not much in the way of story here. This video is billed as a part 1 of 2, and I honestly can’t imagine what part 2 would be apart from more of the same. The video plays out like a clips show of game scenes, presented in a sort of Robot Chicken-esque channel surfing format. If you’ve never played any of the Portal games (or Half-Life, which I am assuming is where those characters who show up at the end are from), there may not be as much for you here, apart from some cool MOCs and animation bits. There’s also a behind-the-scenes video, which is something I always love seeing from other artists.
Next we have an entry from The Four Monkeys: a pretty faithful recreation of the Grand Theft Auto 5 trailer. The audio in their video comes directly from the real trailer; and with it, a storyline for the game told in voice over. Again, we have some really great set pieces that are pretty well matched to the trailer they come from.
I was also really impressed by a few particular moments — the shot of the guy on the jetski, the microscale city shot at 0:49, and the driving scene at 1:00. There’s a surprising amount of chroma keying, but it works and isn’t distracting. This is a solid piece, with as solid of a storyline as the source material allows. (I know I keep bringing up storylines; more on that in a moment.)
Finally, there’s “LEGO The Battle of Helm’s Deep”, a Lord of the Rings-themed sketch from Brotherhood Workshop (whom we’ve mentioned once or twice before). The film has some really nice lighting and shot composition, sweet battle scenes (check out those crowds of warriors!), and consistently well-animated minifigs. Again, I’m not terribly familiar with the source material, but I know enough to say that Legolas is the star here, and his skidding-into-frame and “I’ve got the boooooox” animation are my favorite parts of this short. I assume the “get you a box to stand on” bit comes from one of the movies, and while I’m not sure it’s enough for 2-and-a-half minutes of story, it is a great excuse for some LotR homage action.
Overall, the entries here are heavy on visuals and light on story; perhaps appropriate for what I’m assuming was a video game themed contest (admittedly I’m still a bit confused as to how LotR fits into that). It looks like voting took place on Twitter and ended December 8th, so we should be seeing the winners soon!
If you’re a fan of these properties, I definitely recommend giving these entries a watch. If not, there’s at least some cool brick animation to check out!