This may be the best animation I’ve ever created. Read more about the production after the cut.
I began thinking about this last year when the Bricks in Motion 2101: Avant-Garde Contest was announced. However, it was the Mofilm Cannes 2010 deadline that got me to finish it. I was inspired by the work of Georges Schwizgebel. My favorite film of his is The Man Without a Shadow, but Fugue is a better example of his style. He is always seamlessly morphing one thing into another and using a small color palate. I took that as my guiding idea and started doing some preliminary sketches.
From my sketches I knew how I could turn a flower into a person so I set that as one transformation. The Mofilm contest made the LEGO logo the obvious end point. I restricted myself to red, yellow, white and black because those are 4 of the original 5 LEGO colors and they are the four colors in the LEGO logo. Beyond that, I knew I wanted to have a vehicle, a building, and an animal, so I came up with creations that fit within those categories and the color scheme. As soon as I had decided on the models I immediately started building, the Mofilm deadline was only a month away.
Building the models was relatively simple. I put them together in about the span of a week. The apple design was based on Nathan Sawaya’s bushel of apples. The LEGO logo I based on a Garrett Barati’s from Play Nice I scaled up the letters 1.5X and then modified it to my liking. For the lighthouse, car, and butterfly I used google image searches for reference.
The time consuming part was building all the in between models. For each transition I had to build about 9 in-between states. Even though each of these models would only be in one frame (1/15th of a second) I design them as carefully as the different rest states. For the earlier transitions, I was able to build the all the in between states for a couple transitions at once, but as the models got bigger I reached the limit of my red and black LEGO collection. For the final transition from butterfly to the LEGO logo. I was only able to build about half of the states at once, as soon as I had filmed them I needed to tear them apart and rebuild them as the next set. You can check out pictures of all the in-between models (except for a few i forgot to photograph) in this flickr gallery. But here are some of my favorites:
To get the big white expanse I had a big roll of white paper which took over my kitchen for a few weeks.
The animation was pretty simple for the most part. Most of it was just swapping models in and out or making them spin around. The harder parts were the wings on the butterfly, the light on the lighthouse and hardest of all, animating the walking person. Every step I had to switch out a new set of arms and legs 8 times. This got so repetitive that I had to sing a song to keep track of what part of the walking cycle I was on. It went like this, “All-the-way-in-the-back foot is still standing-still foot.” Over and over. I was very glad when that was over.
The total animation time was 9 hours (including a test animation which is so bad that I refuse to show you). But as I said before, the really time consuming part of this project was building all the in between models. I’d estimate at least 40 hours on that. When it was all over, my living room was an absolute mess:
but these are the sacrifices we make for art.