You can tell I was enthusiastic about making my first film. Just look at all the stuff I put together to go with it.
The expanding “device”
This was inspired by just picking up the LEGO chainsaw body that I got for Christmas and noticing that it had studs all over it that I could attach other bits to. I spent a while searching the web for the sounds of gears and cogs and machinery before realising that I had the perfect sound already – Tank Jr’s taunt from Quake 3.
Here’s a test I did to try to match the expanding movement to the sound. Apart from White rocking backward and forward, the timing is pretty much frame-for-frame what appears in the finished film.
Giant space mutants
It was never meant to be monkeys. The original script called for giant space mutants and I had the perfect action figure for the role: the rat creature from Jeff Smith’s Bone. Just one tiny problem – it was too big to fit in the frame without doing a really wide shot and revealing the edges of the set. This came as a bit of a surprise with about 3 days left before the deadline and I had to do a quick rewrite on the spot to incorporate the monkeys (another Christmas gift). With hindsight, I think they work better anyway.
Here’s a very short test which features the only surviving footage of the giant space mutant chowing down on Red.
Behind the Scenes
I had the presence of mind to take a few photos while filming Out of Time. They were mainly done for reference because I had to dismantle the living room set to make the exterior set. There’s nothing really exciting here, but I like seeing this kind of stuff on DVDs so I thought I’d throw it up here.
Sadly, I didn’t think to take any pictures of the street set or the camera rig I used for the tracking shot, which is a shame because that’s the bit people keep asking me about. Basically, I lashed the camera to a LEGO plate, then built a LEGO frame around the plate so that it could only slide in the direction I wanted it to. I taped a ruler to the frame, which allowed me to move the camera exactly 1mm per frame. I then filmed about 120 frames of the guys walking.
Filming one of the cars driving past in the background. To the left is the living room set – the yellow box with the white top is the entrance hall. Note the pathetic attempt at creating the look of a building across the road – I knew it would be out of focus so I didn’t make too much of an effort.
My girlfriend has a Fuji F60-something digicam which takes absolutely stunning pictures. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to hook it up for stop motion animation. You can’t really tell from the picture on the left – click on it to see the larger image.
Filming Mike’s close-up from the last scene. You can see in this picture that I had to raise the whole living room set in order to get the right angle for the close-ups.
This is what the living room looks like from behind.
The modular walls in action! I built the living room set as three separate walls which were held in place by the baseplate and a brick at the top to hold them together at the corners.
This is a genuine blooper that happened when I was recording dialogue. Most of the film was pretty clearly scripted and worked out ahead of time, but in the scene where Rod appears, I just wanted Geoff to be yelling at Mike in the background while Rod did his narration. I thought I could just get in character and improvise something. However, it seems I’m not too good at thinking on my feet.
I was going to tag this on the end of the film after the credits, Toy Story style, but (a) I didn’t have time to animate it and (b) it would have pushed it just over the 6 minute limit for the BricksWest 2003 competition.
Spot those in-jokes
There are a few in-jokes early on in the film. Well, not even in-jokes – just references to other people’s films.
Since Out of Time was my first full-length film, I wanted to add a couple of quick references to the brickfilms that inspired me to have a go at creating something of my own. At the start of the film, we see Mike and Geoff sitting in their living room on a quiet Sunday morning. This being a bachelor pad, there are movie posters on the walls. Since Jay Silver had already done posters for his movies, I thought they’d be the ideal choice.
The keened-eyed reader will have noticed that, unusually for a bachelor pad, there’s a plant in the room.
Geoff is reading a newspaper. You would expect the newspaper to feature stories about the world of Lego folk, so it seemed appropriate to add some stories that brickfilmers would be familiar with – namely Steve & Dave’s brushes with weirdness and the sports news from The Big Game:
This is the original graphic I used for the newspaper: