Animal Logic's Rob Coleman Talks About Creating a LEGO World
Animal Logic's Rob Coleman is this week's guest on the VIEW Conference blog. Rob is an acclaimed animator who has been nominated twice for an Oscar for his work on "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" and "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones." He's worked closely with George Lucas while working at Industrial Light & Magic and Lucas Film Animation.
Rob joined Animal Logic in 2012 as head on animation, overseeing work on "The LEGO Movie" and the recent "The LEGO Ninjago Movie."
You'll be talking about "The Art and Animation of The LEGO Batman Movie" at the conference. You also worked on the original "LEGO Movie." What, if anything, did you differently for "Batman?"
"The LEGO Batman Movie" was much larger in terms of scale and scope when compared to the original LEGO movie. Gotham City is vastly larger than Bricksburg and I have a great video which highlights this fact in my VIEW Conference presentation. We also changed the style of animation in Batman because Batman required a greater range of motion than Emmet from "The LEGO Movie."
We learned a tremendous amount from the first LEGO movie and were able to push for more detail where we needed it in Batman. I think the Art, Modelling and Surfacing teams did an astonishing job. I love the detail in Gotham city and the design of the buildings and the vehicles. There is a gritty realism to the surfacing that makes us think that we are looking at real, well loved, LEGO bricks. I love that. I also love that the Visual Effects team added in steam, smoke, water and snow to"The LEGO Batman Movie." It makes it look like real LEGO out in the real world. Our goal has always been to try and convince the audience that they are looking at real bricks.
Because you were working with the LEGO brand, did you do anything differently than you'd do in a more traditional animated movie?
All filmmakers working in animation want to create characters that the audience believes are alive and thinking. We all work hard to craft our animation so that our characters feel a part of their animated world. That goes for hand-drawn animation, stop-motion animation and our computer animation. For LEGO animation, we are working with a well-known medium. The audience knows LEGO, how the bricks click together and what the mini figures look like. For us, we wanted to embrace the limitations of the hard bricks — no bending, no squash and stretch, and no motion blur, all in the service of creating this faux stop-motion style of animation.
Did you have a lot of LEGOs around for inspiration? If so, which were your favorites?
All of the animators had LEGO on their desk. We were sent big boxes of LEGO from Denmark and prototypes of the vehicles to play with. Having the LEGO was a huge inspiration. One of my favorites was the new Batmobile. We were able to examine exactly how everything articulated on the Batmobile and that shows in the animation when it is driving around in our LEGO Gotham City.
The new "LEGO Ninjago Movie" just came out. And Jorge R. Gutierrez has just signed on to direct a LEGO spinoff called "Billion Brick Race." Are there any other LEGO characters you'd like to see as animated films?
I am a big fan of Jorge Gutierrez's work. I am very happy that he has been hired to direct "The Billion Brick Race." I am looking forward to the day when we can sit down together and talk about LEGO animation.
You've been to the VIEW Conference before. What do you like about the conference?
I was at VIEW 2014 and presented Animal Logic's work on The LEGO Movie. I had a terrific week. I was incredibly impressed by the speaker lineup and all of the fabulous presentations. The VIEW Conference is a great size. It is intimate and focused, with daily opportunities to meet and talk to some of the very best in the Visual Effects and Animation industry.
What other talks/presentations are you most excited to check out at this year's conference?
This year, there are so many presentations that I am really interested in. I will be there everyday listening and learning from some of my old colleagues and many speakers whose work I have admired for years. It's a week where I get to be a fan boy too. I am really looking forward to VIEW 2017!