“How far are you going?”, “Oh, about 120 years.”

The first ever true LEGO brickfilm animation by Baron Julius von Brunk – well, the first with a structured plot, anyway! This is a simple parody of the original Back to the Future teaser trailer from 1985 – but with a rather explosive twist! See our favorite pint-sized protagonist Marty McFly scamper off into the vast unknown of time travel using a tricked-out DeLorean.

This video was originally intended to be an elaborate tutorial where I planned on demonstrating how to create the illusion of blowing up LEGO models with a combination of CGI and practical effects. The Civil War soldiers were filmed first, and the plan was to show them blowing up a random car: afterwards I wanted to deconstruct the scene step-by-step by showing the principles of stop-motion animation, composite layers, fog machine smoke, and out-of-focus flashlights which create the illusion of explosions. However, after recording the video of the little Army men, I changed my mind and decided to retool the premise and shoot some footage of the DeLorean – thus manufacturing a Back to the Future parody instead! Hence, the time lapse footage seen during the credits was recycled video from the original tutorial idea.

The smoke was created from shooting video footage of white fog machine smoke on a black background, with a flashlight shined on the smoke to make it stark white against the black. I then inverted the colors and made a composite layer with the opacity set to “screen”, which made the smoke turn black. The flames were various shots of my electronic LEGO LED candles that I built for Halloween 2016. The candles are battery-powered and use a flickering flame LED; I duplicated several layers of the flickering flames on the road for the fire trail, as well as the DeLorean wreckage. Some of the yellow explosions (including the cannon’s muzzle flash) and lens flares were created by turning my camera lens out of focus at f/1.8 and shining flashlights and LEDs slowly towards the lens.

The desert road scenery was just one 46” strip of road, and for each shot of the DeLorean (e.g. closeup, far away, rear view) I’d slightly reposition the cacti, trees, and rocks to create the illusion of a much longer stretch of highway. In reality it was just the same road over and over again. The final challenge was Adobe After Effects, since I had only a minimal usage of the program up until this point. With this software I did the lightning effects, rotoscoping, and animated minifigure mouths using AquaMorph’s tutorial.

LEGO construction, photography, animation, special effects, and video editing by Baron Julius von Brunk, December 2018 – January 2019.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.