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The Cinematography of "The Lego Movie"

Stashed in: Film, LEGO, LEGO Movie

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As mentioned above, we had to balance the simulation of a miniature world with a sense of the epic, while also allowing for intimacy at appropriate moments. Partly this was achieved through a generally shallow depth of field, coupled with camera work led by cinematographer and Layout Supervisor Pablo Plaisted which strove to emulate a camera operated at a Lego scale. Pablo articulates the process pretty thoroughly in this interview on fxguidetv, the salient points being:

  • lens as though at Lego scale using virtual lenses that are proxies to real-world equivalents
  • DOF is accurate to the physics of those virtual lenses
  • as a general principle the point of focus aligned with the stereoscopic convergence point, which resolved the tension between the audience desire to rove their eyes around the frame in a stereo image and the need to guide the audience to action or story points
  • rather than allow the CG camera to pivot on a nodal point, rigs were built to emulate real-world camera rigs such as Steadicam rigs, albeit at a Lego minifig scale. This allowed for more "human" camera movement without the artificial perfection of normal CG camera work.
  • a sense of weight and inertia was keyframed into the camera movement, again to seat the camerawork in the "real world" of the Lego sets, giving the audience the sense that the virtual camera had actual mass.
  • imperfections were explored, such as deliberate overshoot of focus pulls and camera moves. With such a generally shallow depth of field it was found that overshooting DOF led to popping and was distracting, so the focus pulls were carefully and accurately done (sometimes frame by frame for very close camera work), but overshoots on camera moves were retained.

I had not realized how much detail went into making the LEGO Movie's cinematography special.


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