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Actually, it looks more complicated then it is. I think if someone else had made this film, I would look at it frame by frame, just wondering how in the world they did it. But I made it so straight forward, that the most solutions are just the most obvious ones. Let's have a look at the film in more detail, but let me first explain how it all started...

In September 2002 I was on my way from Denmark to my parents in Holland. In a large departmentstore I was looking for a gift for my niece, but I ended up buying more stuff for myself then for her. It was the first time I saw that Playmobil had released Vikings. I bought immediately the two sets with the Vikings that feature in the film. Since I had been playing with the idea of making an stop-motion film since I was young, but never founded any suitable toy to do it with (tried Barbies-not flexible enough, tried actionfigures-too flexible, Lego is too small), I knew directly that this was the toy that does the trick! They are flexible, but stable. And they are funny. Are trying to be cool, but fail misserably because of their clowns outfit (bright colors, striped clothes).

When I got home after this holiday, I worked a weekend almost non-stop to make the first Viking Five trailer with the use of a blue screen (more about that later), which ended up quite OK. The motion was fine for a test, the blue screen effect worked out fine and most important: they were really funny. And cool. I knew I had to do more with this, so the test automatically became a trailer. For the first time I started to do a search on-line for Playmobil movies and noticed there weren't any, except for two... And they were both made by the same guy, Joshua Deicken. I was impressed by the length of his movies and the way it fitted all together. I knew I could do a more fluent job on the animations, but I guessed that wasn't his main goal, as he seemed more a storyteller to me. I wanted to make something completely different and I think I had the way I wanted to do it already in my head since I was a kid and playing with the Klickies. And this is how I ended up doing it:


 The Studio

  I have the pleasure to spend my free time in a cartoonist studio. Not only are the people working there great voices for the film and do the have creative additions (the brilliant 'Advanced Rape and Plunderschool' is one of them! Palle, who is doing the monk's voice, came up with that.), I also have gotten the room to build my own animation studio. It's the studio's archive. Simple, but effective. This picture is actually taken in the early stage, because I've gotten two extra spotlights. One for the front and one for the background.

   Here you can clearly see that the table is very stable, which is oh so important. Nothing is more frustrating then to do the whole take again, because something moved... after 70 recorded shots :-((

  It still was sunny in Copenhagen, but sometimes the clouds came in his way. And that is very obvious when you play all the pictures after eachother. It's flickering. Then I decided to work in the dark, so here I am, going kinda underground.

  This is my desk in the studio, with my computer. As they are not paying me for saying it, I will only say that this perfect consumer laptop is not a PC and certainly not running Windows. Otherwise I was still trying to solve the crashes. And I am working with the computermaker's professional video editingsoftware, which does the job very well.


 Technical details

Some details about the film... It's actually recorded in DV PAL quality, 720 x 576 pixels, 25 frames. But most of the images recorded are lasting 2 frames. Sometimes I used one different image every one frame, but that was just because I had recorded too many frames in one movement. It was not necessary.


 The Blue Screen

I don't like to spend much time on building a scene. I rather go filming. I decided to use the blue screen, as I can use any kind of background afterwards. I expect the way it works is familiar. It's the same as the weatherman on TV standing in front of a blue screen. Afterwards you filter the blue in the computer and you can put the weatherman in front of any landscape. The blue disappears almost completely. But... if the weatherman has a blue tie, the tie will also be filtered and you'll see the background through it. And I had a blue viking (Harald, with the red beard), which actually was a lot in the picture. Luckely you can also use green as background color. But I had a scenery which was mainly green. It ended up with a lot of frustrations, but I just filmed more carefully. It would be too technical here too explain how I solved this. Just don't start using blue actors when you're filming on blue screen. I discovered it too late. Also a problem is that the Klickies are very shiny, and reflecting blue, which makes parts of them invisible. If you look better, you can see that happening in some scenes.

An example of blue- and greenscreen. In this case I had to do both of them, because both colors are present in the picture. Then in the editing process you just show half of each picture which makes one whole picture.




 The Scenery

Because I didn't want to waste too much time on building, I made this simple ground of cart-board, with several pieces of cart-board on different places to create small hills. Next time I wouldn't build it on cart-board again, because it's not solid. It bends and moves all the time, because it is light and thin (but cheap!). If you just can secure it to them bottomplate, it would be fine, I guess. But my next choice will be wood.

Building the road and grass. The paint is to cover up the places where the sand doesn't cover the road. The sand (well, they more small stones) is bought in a shop, because of it's nice size. Real sand would show almost no structure. Also, when the monk is driving over it, the cart is wiggling in a realistic way. I wouldn't be like that on sand or not at all on paper!