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How to create a LEGO animation without getting burned out?

Posted: May 28, 2024

Hello everyone, this is Denis Weber.
Today I’m going to talk about what happens if you combine LEGO and the iconic movie Terminator 2. I’ll show you how I created a real LEGO trailer and what came out of it. I like doing such large-scale projects and if you have any cool ideas, let me know in the comments.
If you prefer the video format, you can watch it on PolyRoad 3D YouTube channel.

In 1984, the movie Terminator first was released and it blew up the movie industry. Then there was Terminator two which succeed on an even larger scale.

Then there were other Terminators.
I think you’ll agree with me if I say that Terminator 2 is the best movie of the entire franchise.
An epic action, an exciting plot, unreal computer graphics and, of course, the rise of robots.

It’s scary to imagine, this year the second Terminator is turning thirty-three years old.
In those times, well, or 10 years later after release, I got LEGO myself and I loved it with all my heart.
I wanted to combine two of my favorite things. Thank God, AI still cannot make such a video in one click.

In this article I’ll tell you how I created the LEGO characters of the trailer and the large-scale locations of the film.
The first thing I did I watched the trailer a hundred times.

I cheated a little here and I already had a ready-made LEGO minifigure from one of my past projects.

In the first frames of the trailer, the skeleton of the Terminator stands in the fire and looks angrily into the camera. I downloaded the photo and made a 3D model from it.

Hair for models was a the hardest part. It was necessary to make sure that the Terminator evoked fear, not applause after performing the hit of the 80s.

I spent some time modeling hairstyles, but I wanted to finish my project in time for the release of the next part of the Terminator, so I used free models from the MecaBricks website.

MecaBricks has some cool detailed models, but that’s what makes it harder to work with. High detailed models adds thousands of polygons, and for animation it is better if there are fewer polygons, but not for Pixar. Therefore, I had to spend time optimizing the models.

The naked terminator inside the capsule moves through time and space straight to the truckers’ parking lot.
The Terminator’s trips from the future always involve uncanny lightnings and sparks, so in post-production I added lightnings, which I tried to make as similar to the original as possible.

There are also the trucks and bar decorations. I bet the movie was shot the same way, with one wall facing the camera.

OK, the trailer also has a scene inside the bar, so I had to build it as well. I even modeled a LEGO billiard table and tattooed the arm of a random Terminator victim.

In the scene where T-800 is looking for John, the moviemakers show a picture of his eyes. I tried a few crazy ways to do the same before I got what I like.

When Sarah Connor got the news that the evil guy from her worst memories is in the city, two cyborgs are already running after John.
For this scene, I created a small hospital room without walls and floor. Sarah couldn’t even escape from there.

She looks at the Terminator’s photo and says that her son is in trouble. And at the same moment, a huge truck with a killer cyborg falls off the highway straight onto John. Do you still need more suspense?

Sarah fights with T-1000 to the bitter end and in many scenes she herself looks more like a Terminator than a sweet mother playing with her son on the playground.
Many scenes show great work with light and smoke. It took a lot of effort to convey at least something similar to the original in my video.

Some scenes are simply amazing in their epicness. For example, when, during a chase, the T-1000, at the pilot wheel of a helicopter, flies into a truck with the main characters at full speed. In this case LEGO parts should shoot out of it.

This is the biggest scene of the entire trailer.It’s full of trees, particles, smoke and everything that makes it so memorable.

And here is one of the longest scenes, the one in which T-1000 is chased by the car of the main characters. He jumps on the trunk, breaks the glass and, of course, at the last moment Arnold saves everyone.

In general, a lot of police equipment is used in the film. Helicopter, police cars, vans and motorcycles. It’s good that all these models were freely available on the Internet. Otherwise, I would never have finished this project.

I can’t even imagine how the creators made the effects for Terminator with the capabilities of computers and 3D modeling programs in 1991.

In my project, T-1000 is literally created from T-800. They should be produced somewhere in the neighboring workshops, right?
I don’t understand why T-1000 doesn’t turn into someone whom the main characters haven’t seen yet and calmly finish their business.

The T-1000 continues to show us its abilities.
You need to be a very self-confident cyborg to jump out of an office building at full speed on a motorcycle, straight towards a helicopter and then climb into it.

I especially like this scene where the evil Terminator turns to the camera so that the spotlight beam is visible in the hole. It’s a small thing, but it looks epic.

The trailer is so full of events and different scenes that sometimes I spent several hours just to set up a 3D scene, the animation of which did not take even two seconds.

Anyway, if you watch the whole trailer, all the scenes look cool because they have a lot of details. The animation does not look like a collection of random objects and can be perceived as a whole film.

For this scene, I needed to create something between the normal look of the evil Terminator and his liquid state. At first the model looked more like a Michelin mascot, but after a couple of hours everything started to look right.

When I figured out all the models, scenes, light and animation, I had to work as a conductor and I created, so to speak, a similar musical theme for the trailer so that YouTube would not have questions for me. Oh, yes, also sound design, but I’ll tell about it the other time.

I really spent a lot of time and effort creating the trailer. More than for any other project before. And I really wanted to tell you about all the little things, but the trailer turned out to be so big that I would not have had a couple of hours.

The trailer is already on my channel, don’t forget to watch it too.

I am glad that I completed the project to the end and I really like the result. Some time ago, I didn’t think anything would come of it at all.
Thanks for reading. It’s going to be really cool something here soon