More Tongal, Kickstarter, & LEGO Movie News

In a roundup that makes me think I need to start diversifying our coverage here a little bit, I have three new things that sound very much like three other things we’ve covered recently.

Iron Man flying | $20,000 video

1) In addition to the DC Universe Tongal Contest, LEGO also launched a Marvel one. Since I already made fun of the “executional mandatories” in the last post, I’m all out of jokes on this one.

Bound movie poster

2) I don’t blame you if you’ve never heard of Monitogo Studios or Greg Tull. Even though he’s been making brick animations since 2008, none have been released online. Unless you were at SAICFF 2009, you probably missed their last animation.

David and I first met Greg Tull during our “Intro to LEGO Animation” workshop at Brickworld a few years ago. The workshop is three hours long, so we let the audience interrupt frequently with questions and comments. In addition to the usual questions about how to make characters fly and what frame rate we use, one audience member kept raising his hand to discuss the finer points of DragonFrame and advanced lighting techniques. My co-author joked “maybe you should be the one up here teaching the class.”

The very next year, Greg was leading his own workshop on brick animation which gave participants hands-on experience animating and taught them how to think about lighting and camera angles the way a Hollywood director would. It was a great compliment to our workshop and it was a nice opportunity for us to be students again. This year, Greg had a last-minute commitment that prevented him from attending most of Brickworld, but he still drove 8 hours (each way) just so he could give the “Advanced Animation Workshop” again.

I say all of this to give you a sense of who Greg is and show how dedicated he is not only to making brick animations, but to teaching and inspiring others. He follows through on his promises, even if it means putting in some extra hours of tedium on very little sleep. If that’s not the mark of a true animator, I don’t know what is.

The few glimpses of “Bound” on display on the Kickstarter page are promising, the animation is fluid and the facial animation is good (if you’re into that). There are some epic wide shots in the video (starting at about 1:21) and I really want to see the parts of the film set in the mine. I talked at length in my last post on this subject about why I think it’s important to support artists, so it should come as no surprise to you that I’m supporting this one.

Will “Bound” be a success like “Melting Point” or will it join “Ghost Town” among the ranks of brick animation projects on Kickstarter that didn’t quite make it? Only you can decide! Go check out the project on Kickstarter!

3) Here’s a really great interview with the directors and co-director of “The LEGO® Movie.” More interesting tidbits about how the film is animated:

…with stop motion there’s no motion blur because every frame is its own little thing.  We found out if a character is moving really fast across the screen, it was going to get a little bit jumpy.  And so, we developed this brick-built motion blur of the characters when they’re moving really fast, and we have these special clever solves for things like that.

See!? Even fancy Hollywood people with budgets of millions of dollars prefer brick-built special effects! Or at least brick-built-and-then-cleverly-replicated-in-a-photo-realistic-CG-environment special effects. I really can’t wait to watch every behind-the-scenes feature on this movie.

Miller: It was inspired a lot by brick films that people make online.  There are a ton of these on YouTube where these people very creatively make funny, funny LEGO movies and the limitations of the characters is kind of funny.  Also, there are some photographers that photograph the little LEGO people and try to make it look really epic, just from the lighting.  And we thought that was pretty cool when they tried to marry a cinematic lighting style with a brick film aesthetic.

Lord: I think it was a choice we made the instant that Dan Lin pitched us the project.  We were like, “Well, if you did it like this, we would be interested.  But if you don’t, if no one will commit to that, then there’s no way we’ll do it.”

This commitment to the visual aesthetic gives me a lot of hope for this movie and what it could mean for other LEGO movies and TV shows in the future. If this is a runaway success, maybe the goofy CGI of the Cartoon Network shows and Traveler’s Tales games will give way to more “realistic” stop-motionesque CGI or maybe even honest-to-goodness stop-motion? I can dream at least 🙂

The interview goes into a lot more about the voice actors, some classic LEGO themes they are including, and so on, so definitely check it out if you are interested in every little scrap of information about this movie (and if you aren’t please let me know before I write 10 more blog posts on the subject).

There is also some shaky handheld footage of the Comic-Con panel available: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. I haven’t watched these all the way through yet, but the kid who asks a question at the beginning of Part 4 is awesome.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Video Project on Tongal

“Bound” – Fun. Animated. Brickfilm on Kickstarter

Comic-Con: Directors Phil Lord, Chris Miller, and Chris McKay Talk THE LEGO MOVIE on Collider