Monday, 23 February 2015

Avengers Tower: Invasion

After rewrites, reshoots, much kafuffery and myriad setbacks, it's done.

Avengers Tower: Invasion is my longest brickfilm to date, coming in at a grand 8 minutes 21 seconds. It's possibly the most complex I've ever done too, and considering my own internal controversies over this brickfilm, I figured it warranted a proper write-up, just for me to explain everything that went on while I was putting this hunk a' junk together.

The origin story
From March through to August last year I was working on Avengers Tower, a series of fight videos for another channel (though I moved them back to my channel after a disagreement). They were Avengers 'training' fight sequences, and I started trying to use more minor Marvel characters. Anyway, the third video was originally going to be a brainless fight against Ultron and his AIM minions, and so I started animating before I really had a clear idea. At this time, it was called Ultron Ascending, and would be released in two parts. However, part one received a lot of negative backlash, and issues with this other channel caused me to shelve Ultron Ascending.

The dilemma
Ultron Ascending was a really low point for me. I was just about to head off to university and wasn't sure whether I would be able to continue brickfilming there or not (more on that later) and when the reaction to this was so poor, I hated that it could be one of the last things I'd be able to make for a while. It became a sore spot, and I wanted to put the very memory of it out of my mind.

However, I still had about 5 minutes worth of animation done, and a super-complex 1 minute digital intro. That's more than I've ever filmed/edited of anything before, and while I wasn't pleased with much of it, I thought it would be a shame to let it go to waste. At this time, I had also just started talking to Galactic Bricks about a shared LEGO Marvel universe, since I wanted to attempt a different, fresher Avengers project at some point soon. So, I made the decision to try and find a way to use the Ultron Ascending footage.

Invaders assemble
The main difficulty in rewriting Ultron Ascending was that it was such a small-scale story, and the original script had Ultron be destroyed. Thus the first thing I decided to do was have Ultron only appear in a behind-the-scene capacity, and let the Avengers just fight AIM, who I decided (being an organisation of techno-geeks) would somehow have come under the android's sway. Since, with the MBU now better formed in my mind, I wanted to add more set-up for future brickfilms, I tried to interweave some backstory for the robot, while at the same time not making it too oblique. Annoyingly, the original footage, didn't have any space for me to add more in, so it feels like all the build-up is in the second half.

(Click for detail)

Which brings me to my honest truth about the film: I don't like it. It hasn't been much fun to work on: it's riddled with light flicker (in both the new and old footage) which I just seem to get rid of, the story is a bit half-hearted, hastily edited, dodgy VFX, and it represents an unpleasant part of my brickfilming career...I'm already looking at how to make my next large project more of a departure from this. While I made the best of a bad situation, there's so much I've learned from how not to brickfilm.

So I hope you enjoy watching this more than I did making it, basically. I've had months of wanting to work on something else but being driven (for some inexplicable reason) to finish this, and I'm not satisfied with the end result.

On a lighter note...

Now this I am pleased with. Together with Galactic Bricks, I've been working on establishing a lot of backstory canon, planning lots of brickfilms, and have even begun filming on a few of them. Black Panther: The Gold Vibranium is my next Marvel brickfilm, while a Doctor Strange tribute is also in the works. I'm also quite happy that I've managed to do two episodes of SHIELD Declassified, which you can view on the MBU playlist. Big things are in the works, and while I'm going to be working on some non-Marvel projects too, the MBU has a lot of my attention. Future installments will be far better than Invasion. That's a promise.

The one good thing that did come out of Invasion was the amount of set-up I managed to add without making it clunky. I've established Ultron, AIM (including Andrew Forson, who'll return in Black Panther), Superior Spider-man, and even threw in Inhumans and the High Evolutionary (shhh, spoilers), all of which will have further repercussions in the MBU.

There's better to come, and now that Invasion isn't at the front of my mind I have time to work on becoming better. Like I said, there's so much I've learned about what not to do, and I'll be experimenting with new techniques to try and improve my work.

That's all I have to say for now. I do hope you enjoyed Invasion, and I hope you'll enjoy the future of the Marvel Brickfilm Universe!

(Click for detail)