Ever wondered how The LEGO® BATMAN MOVIE was made? Wonder no longer! We’re bringing you a behind-the-scenes look from The LEGO® BATMAN MOVIE: The Making of the Movie.
The film was a fun ride through the animation production process. Here’s a guided tour of the adventure, stopping at some of its creative milestones to give an idea of the whos, hows and whats involved in the journey – step by step and brick by brick.
THE LEGO® BATMAN MOVIE is the cinematic combination of two well-loved pop culture legacies that have been inspiring the worldwide collective imagination for nearly a century.
When LEGO Batman appeared onscreen in THE LEGO® MOVIE™, the cast of filmmakers realised that he would be a breakout character – one that audiences really wanted to spend more time with, and one that these filmmakers really wanted to explore as well.
Scripting and storyboarding for the movie ran side by side. The writers and story artists inspired each other as they strove to express humour, emotion and action through visuals and dialogue.
The editing team combined storyboard images with temporary dialogue, sound effects and music to create a story reel, or animatic. The animatic is essentially a moving, speaking comic book that provides a rough cut of how the sequence will play.
The production design team began establishing the overall “look” for the film. Grant Freckelton at Animal Logic encouraged his artistic team to create a fresh new perspective for the movie while keeping to the traditions of both DC Comics and LEGO toys.
The art direction team focused their attention on capturing the mood and colour for key moments in the film. All colour choices were guided by an existing LEGO palette of 57 colours. The art direction team also took into account how lighting and effects might change the colours onscreen.
Once the animatic was finalised, the dialogue for the final film was recorded. Casting a character’s voice is a fun but challenging task, since its pacing and emotional texture has a big effect on the animation performance.
“Will Arnett plays Batman as a really arrogant guy, but there’s a vulnerability deep underneath that shines through his voice all of the time”, says Producer Chris Miller. Robin was voiced by Michael Cera “with sweetness and honesty, like a super-positive kid who really just wants a hug”, notes Director Chris McKay.
This was the phase that really got into the joy of LEGO toys: building characters, props and environments using the 3,286 (at the last count) pieces across 45 different element types. Model concepts on this movie began with either the Animal Logic or LEGO design teams. Then the models went through rigorous notes sessions and versions involving all three creative collaborators before anything was fully built in the CG world.
Models and characters were all put through the look development process to be given surfaces and textures, with an aim to making them appear as photo-real as possible. “We try to capture and represent what we see on a LEGO brick when looking through a magnifying glass”, notes Look Development Supervisor J.P. Le Blanc. “Some texturing is applied by default. It is then manipulated by an artist who adds in detailing that mimics a LEGO brick’s manufacture, mould markings, and real-world scuffs and fingerprints.”
Working in the LEGO medium is a fun challenge for animators, as there are inherent limitations to moving rigid plastic characters. Animation Supervisor Rob Coleman notes that while the team stayed true to the range of motion of a Minifigure, movement was portrayed by the characters in a brilliant way:
"Instead of squishing the LEGO pieces, we spread them apart momentarily and then click them back together, so at film speed the audience feels the squash and stretch rather than seeing it."
In order to remain authentic to the LEGO medium but give the film a truly cinematic feel, the film’s effects team combined brick-based effects for destruction, fire and explosions with photo-real effects for smoke and water.
In the film’s opening sequence, a cargo plane emerges through cloud cover. The team captured the fine details of dry ice swirling, and added interaction from the body of the LEGO cargo plane and its propellers, “all within a shot that was over a thousand frames long”, recalls Effects Supervisor Miles Green. This single shot required such complex work by Effects Artist Jayandera Danappal that work on it took almost three months to complete.
Copyright ©2017 DC Comics, WBEI & The LEGO Group. THE LEGO® BATMAN MOVIE © & ™ DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc, & The LEGO Group. LEGO, the LEGO logo, the Minifigure and the Brick and Knob configurations are trademarks and/or copyrights of the LEGO Group. ©2017 The LEGO Group. BATMAN and all related characters and elements © & ™ DC Comics. All rights reserved. WB SHIELD: ™ & © WBEI. (s17)