Breaking News (2004)
PRODUCTION NOTES: We interrupt tonight's presentation to bring you the following special report! It doesn't need any more introduction than that. You'll probably have to watch this one twice... once for the dialogue and again to read the news ticker at the bottom of the screen.
PRODUCTION NOTES: Being a discussion betwixt Messieurs Feedback and Strativarius in which M. Feedback lobs a surfeit of malediction upon his dining companion. M. Strativarius attempts to cajole M. Feedback into resuming ingestion of his pharmaceuticals, with minimal success. A cheerful domestic is then castigated by M. Feedback. M. Strativarius questions the origin of his victuals, a ribald bon mot is expressed, and the pemmican is praised.
NOTICE: This film is not intended for women, children, or members of the clergy due to some profanatory language.
Taco Trouble (2003)
PRODUCTION NOTES: Appearing in their 11th brickfilm together, Biff and Mario are back in a brand-new comedic adventure. Taco Trouble is the story of Mario's quest to find his friends, Biff and Savannah. "I had breakfast with them this morning, and we agreed to meet at the park to play Scrabble. They never showed up," says Mario, his eyes full of tears. Mario soon discovers they have been captured by the somewhat-evil Doktor X. A mysterious stranger, Queen Jane Approximately, offers her help and together she and Mario risk everything to rescue his helmeted friend and the ubiquitous young female companion. Laughter lurks in every scene.
Although the file is quite large for the broadband version, we highly recommend you watch the higher-quality version of this movie. It is well worth the wait; the sound is in stereo and the mouths look much better. The large version is about 28 meg and the small version is about 4 meg.
You can see behind-the-scenes photos from Taco Trouble here (new ones posted 11-12-03!). You can also see the Taco Trouble deleted scene here (broadband or modem). It goes in place of the "Later" graphic in the final cut of the movie. We shot this and although the bartender's voice turned out well, the animation was terrible even by our standards so we decided not to include it.
It should be noted that this is the first feature we did with moving mouths that are added electronically during the editing process. In the past, we used a variety of different heads with different mouth shapes drawn onto them, and we would swap out the heads for each character who needed to speak as we were shooting each scene. This was messy since touching the character in any way frequently made them jump around a bit when the footage was edited together. Our new technique is to shoot any character who speaks in a scene without a mouth at all. We found that a pencil eraser easily removes the stock Lego mouth printed on a head. The mouths are then added as graphics overlaid onto the picture later.
This makes for easier shooting but EXTREMELY time-consuming editing. We found that the worst part was forgetting to put a head with a mouth on it onto a character who had no lines. In the editing process the standard smiley mouth had to be added to the character frame by frame as they moved around. In the end though, the result is amazing. The mouths really add dimension and expression to the characters, and because they are graphics instead of being hand-drawn onto the heads there are many more mouth shapes possible. It's critical to use software like Final Cut or Avid that lets you "scrub" each frame of audio so you know what mouth shape to add to each frame.
One idea I had during editing was to use heads during shooting which had a tiny dot where the center of the mouth should go instead of being completely blank. This would allow better accuracy for the placement of the mouth later and keep it from drifting around the head too much. We've not yet had a chance to try that.
Some more extra features for Taco Trouble: check out the trailer my brother edited! As usual, you can watch it with Windows Media for broadband or modem. Listen to a radio ad for the taco stand done by one of my audio production students, Brian McMurray, by clicking here.
Jeep Shorts (2003)
TRT 0:28 / 0:25 / 0:20
PRODUCTION NOTES: These three short films were inspired by a recent Jeep trip to the Badlands. One of the guys in the Jeep club always seems to recommend a lead foot no matter what the obstacle might be.
Take Five (2003)
From the Taco Trouble Soundtrack
PRODUCTION NOTES: This piece is the climactic fight scene from Taco Trouble, starring Biff, Mario and their female companions. It is set to The Dave Brubeck Quartet's classic jazz piece, Take Five. We pushed our Lego actors to their physical limits in this one. This is contained within the full version of Taco Trouble, but we liked it so much that we "released" it as a standalone music video.