Star Trek Into Blockness

Pretending I'm cool (far left) with people who are actually cool (everyone to the right of the far left)

Pretending I'm cool (far left) with people who are actually cool (everyone to the right of the far left)

I've been super lucky to do a lot of freelance work for J.J. Abrams' BAD ROBOT the past few years, directing, designing a TV show title sequence, writing and even helping with pitches and marketing. This time around I was presented with a new challenge, er, a new frontier: Stop motion animation. I was brought on to take over an already started short film / commercial for Hasbro's KRE-O toy line as a director and one-dude-stop-motion-animation entity (with post production help from a ton of CG genius').

The challenge was extra unique because it served the dual purpose of marketing the upcoming film STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS, thus there were several clients in which to get all creatively polygamous with: Bad Robot, Paramount Pictures and Hasbro.

So I spent a a handful of hardcore weeks eating, breathing, sleeping, dreaming of and playing with little plastic blocks to tell a fun little story, ultimately to air on Cartoon Network.

Lighting was interesting, as we used dozens of watch batteries glued to LED lights that were drilled into Lego blocks for easy stackability. Camera movement was super mind bending to calculate, as it was easier to move the entire table-sized set around (millimeters at a time for days on end) than to risk moving the camera incorrectly thus messing up a few days of work. Rotating the entire set while keeping the camera and the "actors" stationary created the illusion of whipping backdrops and kinetic camera movement.

The amazing VFX were done by in-house Bad Robot guru Brandon Fayette, the Star Trek: Into Darkness VFX team and CG Superheroes at Industrial Light and Magic. 

As we transitioned into post production mode, I shot a pitch video for JJ's upcoming book and helped cut a few versions of an EMPIRE OF THE SUN music video, as a few of the writers were also working with the band. 

Fun times and many thanks to the Trek'folk and plastic block actors who were only divas when their arms fell off from too much wear and tear. It's always fun to learn an entirely new creative skill-set on the fly and it's super rewarding to see it hit the TV screen. To Mrs. Fabian, my 4th grade teacher whose DNA was comprised of disgusting evil: yes, I can make a career of playing with toys all day long. Evil Laugh. Evil Laugh.

See the finished thing below:

IMG_5339.JPG

To light Legos, we must make light-Legos.

Low angles = raising the entire Star trek Enterprise engine room.

Low angles = raising the entire Star trek Enterprise engine room.

Watching it air on Cartoon Network from the Robot kitchen.

Watching it air on Cartoon Network from the Robot kitchen.