Wotcha think you're doin' here then? You think you can just waddle in like that, do ya?

This here, laddie, is a top-secret Brickspace testin' ground. Yup, thassright. So you'd better geddout before someone sees ya pokin' around...

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Interview with ZachMG (Mindgame studios)

We've featured loads of Mindgame studios videos on Brickspace before, and I got in touch with ZachMg from mindgame studios, to ask for an interview... and he replied (YAY!). So here's what he said:
Q1) How long on average does it take you make a film?
A)Well, it all depends on the size and scope of the project. Some films may take a few days, others a few weeks, some as long as a few months or years even. Factors that go into this include intended length, how long you imagine it would take to tell a full story, amount and level of difficulty of animation/set design/visual effects, and time to dedicate to the project. A small, one-set film like my recent "Social Experiment" takes about two or three days of solid work, whereas my other film "Mirrored Perspective" took about three months to make, in part because of school and the complexity of each and every shot setup (since both figures were animated simultaneously, not only the lighting had to be equal on both sides, but both minifigs needed to have perfectly timed animation, which made the animation portion of the project that much more time-consuming. "Blade Runner: Tears in Rain", a 50 second clip, took about a month to complete, but the actual animation was completed in two days. The other several weeks were dedicated to all of the special effects seen in the film, ranging from the environment behind the Roy Batty character to the animated faces and rainfall. So, the amount of time spent making a film depends on not only the intended length of the final product, but the overall complexity and effort you're willing to put into it to make it as good as you can imagine it.

Q2) Where do you get your inspiration from?
A) Inspiration is a funny thing with me. I'm absolutely horrendous at thinking of story on the spot, mostly because I'm either self-conscious that I'm ripping off a pre-conceived idea, or my creative well has run dry. Most ideas tend to strike me at the most unlikely times. For example, the idea for "Mirrored Perspective" came to me in the summer of 2006, and I sat on the idea until about September/October that year where we covered Plato's Cave Allegory in English class, and I noticed their similarities and found the inspiration to make the film. The idea for my film "Social Experiment" came to me while on vacation the weekend before Halloween. I slept on it, and by the end of the night, I worked out everything I wanted in the film and immediately got to work when I got back home. Ideas, for me at least, are not something that I can voluntarily call upon and develop, but rather something that comes to me almost unexpectedly.

The only exception I can make to that statement is for the films I enter into Twenty-Four Hour Animation Contests ("The Season of Giving," "Arthur's Legacy," etc.), where everything from the story to animation to final render is completed in under 24 hours.

Q3) How do you make your computer designed films like blade runner and what would you say to anyone who wants to make computer designed brickfilms?
A) Most of my special effects are done in Adobe After Effects. I've had the program for almost two years and I'm still have a lot to learn about it. It's not a program where you master by studying it for a week or two, because there's always something new that can be done in it. "Blade Runner" is definitely my most special effects-intensive film to date; the special effects alone took up about 90% of both the screen as well as the time spent making the clip (in fact, the only actual physical objects in the entire clip are the two minifigures and the background behind Deckard. Everything else is composited in After Effects).
      This is something I cannot stress heavily enough to people who want to make very CG-intensive films, especially those new to brickfilming: Wait! Don't dive into intense special effects as a beginner, you'll end up with nothing but headaches and loss of interest. I never touched Adobe After Effects personally until well into my second year of brickfilming. To all beginning brickfilmers: Learn the basics first and get comfortable with them, learn special effects later. I believe George Lucas once said, "Special effects are a tool...a means of telling a story...special effects without a story are a pretty boring thing." Special effects don't make an interesting brickfilm, well-developed stories, characters, and well-rounded animation/cinematography do.

Q4) What, in your opinion is your best movie?
A) Hmm, that's a tough question. Lately, I've been really happy with some of my recent comedies, like "The Season of Giving," "Attack of the Second Amendment," and "Social Experiment," which is nice because I am generally very critical of my work. However, I think I'm most proud of "Mirrored Perspective," on both a storytelling and technical level. I'm really happy with how the simultaneous animation came out as well as the light effects in the film, and overall, I feel like I succeeded in telling the story I wanted to as well as creating an appropriate mood and atmosphere. However, I cannot credit myself alone for "Mirrored Perspective's" success; much credit goes to my incredible musical scorer. Without his fantastic music, the film would be a hollow shell of what I intended it to be, so many, many kudos to him.

Q5) Are you working on anything at the moment?
A) Yes, I do have a couple of projects in the works at the moment, though school and college applications are my primary priority at the moment. One is near completion, one not so much. If I play my cards right, I might be able to get one more film out before the end of the year, but I can't guarantee both. I'd rather not spoil the plots of each film, so you'll all have to wait and see them. ;)

Thanks to Zach for replying, and just to tell everyone, as soon as the new films come out, you can find them on brickspace. You can visit his website by clicking here, or visit his YouTube channel by clicking here.

-Luke, editor

No comments: