10211 Grand Emporium Review

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10211: The Grand Emporium is a great set for any LEGO movie maker’s backlot. It has a beautiful façade with some fun builds and the window displays, food vendor and other bits will make your street scene come alive.

Other things I has going for it from a movie making standpoint:

  • It’s a corner building. Isn’t whipping around a corner avoiding scrambling bystanders more exciting? Yes it is.
  • It includes a window washer on a suspended scaffold. Here comes LEGO Superman to save the day.
  • A great roof for a watchful LEGO Batman to perch on. It’s got a billboard, a skylight, and some nice detailing to offset the brooding.

The inside is too crammed for an iPhone, much less a digital SLR. So any shooting beyond an inside-looking-out shot or a perspective shot down the escalators, which are a fun build, is going to take some futzing. My only nitpic is that the chandelier is beautiful but its attachment is delicate.

If you are going to splurge on an off-the-shelf set, this is the one to do it one. At $150 I am extremely satisfied. It took me a day to build taking my time and I’m going to get lots of use as the anchor of my LEGO backlot.

LEGO Animation Contests

Prizes are of course nice, but LEGO stop-motion contests are great for the aspiring Brickfilmer. Why?

  • Practice. No mad stop-motion skills for you without practice.
  • Deadlines. Best way to keep a project from languishing is a firm deadline.
  • Contraints. Embrace story, time, or budget restrictions and the creative juices will start flowing.

My favorite example of helpful constraints is a LEGO-sponsored contest at Eurobricks. You had to show a hero or villain doing something mundane. None of the usual rock-’em-sock-’em.  You also had to use the LEGO Movie App for the iPhone, which meant to fancy editing, special effects or graphics. I didn’t win, but I’m pretty happy with the resulting video: Roadtrip!

Current and upcoming LEGO stop-motion contests:

Brawl 2013. You have to shoot and edit a 30 second video in a week. Starts July 28.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Video Project.

LEGO DC Universe Super Heroes Video Project

LEGO Stop Motion Contest Forums and Resources

  • Tongal is serious competition for serious cash. Still, you can participate at different levels (idea, pitches and videos) and sometimes you might get an advance if your pitch is selected.
  • BrickFilmersGuild is an online community for Brickfilmers and the founders do a good job of posting contests in their blog.
  • Eurobricks as a whole is really active, and monthly themes often feature contests.
  • Brickfilms is an online community for Brickfilmers with a dedicated forum for contests.
  • BricksInMotion is an online community for Brickfilmers with a dedicated forum for contests. They just announced Brawl 2013, where you have a week to produce a brickfilm.
  • From Bricks to Bothans will run a movie making contest every now and then.

Good luck, and the may the best animation win!

LEGO Backlot

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Every studio needs a good backlot. Why keep rebuilding the same city backgrounds over and over again? When the inspiration or contest deadline strikes, I hardly ever have the time or inclination to create beautifully detailed LEGO buildings for backdrops. I need to make it into a project of its own.

The anchors to my backlot will be 10211: The Grand Emporium and 10232: Palace Cinema. Not having won the lottery, I’ll need to be a bit resourceful for the rest. As much as it pains me, I might need to turn the LEGO Gingrott’s from 10217: Diagon Alley into a museum.

I’ve created a LEGO Backlot board on Pinterest to collect the stuff that inspires me. Particularly RedCoKid’s jewel-like creations, Xenomurphy’s New York inspired buildings. Bricktowntalk is a great source of inspiration. Given my penchant for supehero movies, I’ll need a good  alley. I’ll update this post as my LEGO backlot comes together.