• Length: 2:20
• Year: 2016
• Production time: 1 week
• Produced for: 83rd challenge on Brick à Brack, awarded 1st place
• Theme: Animate a javelin throw
• Camera: Canon EOS 6D
• Lens: Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 (macro lens), Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G
• Programs: Dragonframe, Adobe Creative Suite 6
Behind the Scenes
Since our sportsman needed to throw a dozen of identical javelins in vain we went to our nearest store and bought a dozen sets containing one javelin each...
Of course not! All you need is one javelin and a photo editing software (like the freeware Gimp). First you set everything up as usual and then take photos with the javelin in different spots – don’t forget to also take one picture of the background (without javelin). Preferably the objects and their shadows do not overlap; otherwise you need to trace the outline with a pen tool... After shooting the footage you import it as different layers in one file in Gimp. With the eraser tool you then proceed roughly eliminating all in the top frame except the object (and its shadow!). Alternatively, you select the object and its shadow with a lasso tool, refine the edges and then erase the inverse selection. Doing this over and over again on all the different layers (except the background) you create the impression of multiple objects in the original frame. The same procedure can of course be used to expand your set; this way a few houses can become your next mega city!
Mastering Aperture Flickering
After the heavy aperture flickering problems in the shooting of The Deal we tried different methods to circumvent the problem for our future productions. All of them were quite tedious or not very practicable. Therefore, we sold our Nikon body and used this money to buy a Canon body as well as a lens adapter (EOS/Nikkor), which allows us to manually control the lens aperture. Although this advice may only apply to the few brickfilmers using DSLR cameras (or thinking to buy one): Buy a body from a different brand than the lens you intend to use. The minor setback in image quality is not really noticeable; in exchange you can shoot with apertures other than max open and don’t need to worry about more or less safe workarounds.
• Since we were stuck in post-production of our very complex picture “The Deal” and just got the new camera body to circumvent aperture flickering issues we decided it was time again to animate a short film. The main goal was to dust of the equipment, once again go through the whole process of brickfilming and make sure we were not rusty. While looking for inspiration we stumbled across the Challenge series on Brick à Brack and decided this was the perfect opportunity to signal we were back in the game!
• Although the challenge was just to animate a javelin throw we decided it would be nice to make a short film with a punchline. Thus, we decided to cut back the running steps one usually does when throwing a javelin, in order to save some time (and, in particular, nerves!).
• After our film won the challenge, it initiated a big debate on Brick à Brack whether it won because of the actual animation or because we did more than that by adding a short “story”.
• To do the musical built-up we used layered tracks, which were added one at a time per cycle. This way, things start out quietly and slowly build up towards a massive finale.
• Initially, we wanted our protagonist to wear a beard but had to refrain from that idea, since we did not have enough facial expressions with roughly the same beard. In the end we actually used six different heads throughout the film. We also experimented with a beard in the very last frame showing his head, since we really loved the crazy look of it.