“Some transitions happened naturally, but some didn’t – like the one from the subway into the hockey match, for example, which couldn’t be resolved because of the number of elements involved. We had to resort to a fade to white between scenes there,” explains Macedo.
As you’d expect from something that has Lego’s ubiquitous position in childhood, there’s already a huge amount of Lego-related creativity out there – particularly on the Internet – for Lobo to check out.
The team researched the plentiful stopmotion movies made with Lego bricks, looking on everything from amateur examples they found on YouTube to Michel Gondry’s stopmotion promo for the White Stripes’ track Fell in Love with a Girl.
They also watched plenty of previous Lego ads – “but this was more in an effort to do something different altogether from what they’ve used before,” says Macedo.
A big part of retaining the childlike, fantasy feel the agency sought was stopping the spot from feeling overly slick or CG – Lobo wanted the viewer to feel that these were real Minimen.
Although the spot is fully CG, Lobo was aiming for a stop-motion animation feel. They were helped in this by the Miniman’s limited movements – which the client had stipulated as a key aspect of the project.
Partly because of the easy motion requirements of Go Miniman Go’s plastic stars, the spot was refreshingly straightforward to work on, once the transitions had been figured out.
All animation was handled in Maya, using mental ray and RenderMan modules. Of course, crowd scenes such as the rock gig were still problematic, because of the sheer number of characters in them.
Lobo used render layers to handle these, resorting to RenderMan modules for a lot of the geometry requirements. The amount of lighting, shadows and other information also ensured that the final rendering process was highly demanding. Lobo’s team was made up of three key members, with up to eight extra people pitching in when needed and four more for 3D rendering.
The team clearly enjoyed the process of making the spot, and the opportunities it afforded them to unleash their inner child. “The most fun we had was with incorporating strange little characters as ‘walk-ons’ in some scenes. Our favourites are the skeleton biker and the bum with the dog,” notes Macedo.
Use the force
One of the client’s only restrictions or special requests for the spot was that the animation respected the Miniman’s limited movements. This requirement ended up making Lobo’s job a lot easier, as it meant that all characters moved in a straightforward way, and never twisted or bent more than a real Miniman could.
Lego characters from throughout the decades populate the spot – and there are a few cheekily out-of-place characters slipped in, such as a pirate on the subway or a cowboy on top of the Berlin Wall.
Project: Go Miniman Go
Client: Pereira & O’Dell/Lego
Studio: Lobo, www.lobopg.com
Software: Autodesk Maya, Pixar RenderMan