This year’s global holiday campaign from LEGO sees directing duo the Bobbsey Twins from Homicide employ their distinct style to explore how imaginations come to life when people build and play with playsets from the Danish construction toy giant. Framestore was called on to realise the directors’ vision as the creative studio delivered an incredibly wide scope of VFX work. It worked its magic on almost every single shot in the two and a half minute campaign film as well as six shorter sub-brand specific films.
Led by the LEGO Group’s internal creative agency, and produced by BLINK, the campaign takes a trip through some of the LEGO® brand’s most popular themes, from its own IPs like LEGO Ninjago™ and City to its most popular licensed properties. Because of the range of visuals that would all come together in the campaign, Framestore needed to deliver an incredibly wide scope of services from digital environments and effects to complex CG asset and character builds that included armour, a CG dragon, T-Rex and giant robots.
For the team which was led by VFX Supervisor Jules Januad and 2D Lead Christian Baker, the project was something of a dream come true. ‘As an artist, a fan of these properties and of LEGO play, this project brought together so many different things. When you have so much in one project, it’s impossible to not get excited while working on it,’ Baker commented.
While the team needed to realise the fantastical - castle-laden fantasy environments, a wedding that included talking dinosaur guests, dragsters tearing down city streets - part of the LEGO Agency’s creative was that it had to be done with bricks in mind. Digital assets were built to look like the right LEGO elements, as if the humans starring in the film were minifigures themselves. Cops hold full-sized LEGO coffee cups and the Princess wields a giant sword straight out of a playset.
Framestore is no stranger to this approach following its work on the hugely popular Drive What You Love commercial in which it created miniature and digital LEGO versions of real-life cars, including a dragster that makes another appearance in this latest campaign.
With both Janaud and Baker leading the project, the pair underwent strict preparation and travel plans to join the production team on the COVID-safe set in and around Prague. Here they advised the team on how to shoot for the extensive amount of VFX that would be done in post-production. Talking about the live action plates shot by Tim and Fred Bobbsey, Jules said ‘the directors’ style fits so well within the world of LEGO but sets any VFX partner a real challenge.
‘The way they put together their work includes a lot of long frames and static shots which means any and all VFX work has to be of the absolute highest-quality. We took this challenge head on and I really think all of the work, whether it’s 2D, 3D or character builds and animation, stand up to the highest standards of VFX work.’
This attention to detail can be seen in several close ups of the CG dragon, two versions of which appear in the main campaign film. As it rears its head you can see every scale and tooth in a character that’s at first imposing and powerful but then quickly changes to become more caricatured when confronted by the Princess.
LEGO counterparts, all while creating characters that could emote as needed. This was one of the project’s biggest challenges and one that the team was able to address with a high level of success.
The team had to build two major licensed-IP digital assets which are incredibly popular LEGO sets that proved to be some of the most fun to work on and had to mirror the fun feeling of the animated LEGO universe where everything is heightened with physical comedy.
Alongside the digital assets, setting the scene for the commercials journey through the worlds LEGO play brings to life was really important. Baker’s 2D artists used a multitude of assets and digital matte paintings to realise the commercial’s worlds that include castle-topped mountain sides for the confrontation between the Princess and dragon and American city streets for a high-speed police chase.
‘The amount of enthusiasm and passion that the team has put into this project is quite something,’ commented Sian Jenkins, VFX Producer. ‘The Bobbsey Twins’ filmmaking style and their vision for this campaign lends itself really well to VFX work and I know the whole team are excited to share it now we get to see it out in the public domain.’