Kevin Rooney: LEGO Media Animator

To start off with, I asked Kevin about how he got involved with LEGO Media International:

“I joined LEGO in January 2000 as a Junior CG Artist and Animator. It was my first job after completing a Masters in Computer Animation from Bournemouth University. A friend of mine from Bournemouth had the job at LEGO first, but after a few months took a job elsewhere, and before doing so put in a word for me with Terry and the team (Mattias, Jason and Martin). The interview went well, and shortly after I started work with the team at their shiny new headquarters in Slough, just west of London.

Next, I asked him about what projects he could remember working on, which included Soccer Mania, Rocket Racers, and LEGO Creator: Harry Potter:

“One of the first projects I remember working on was Harry Potter, and involved creating mock-ups in Maya (the 3D software we used) of a new range of Minifigures based on sketches of Harry and the other key characters from the novel. At the time, I knew nothing about the book, nor indeed how huge the franchise would end up becoming.

“The 2 projects I remember most fondly were LEGO Racers and LEGO Football Mania (LEGO Soccer Mania outside of Europe). This was because I was able to assist Martin in the animation of some of the scenes from the FMVs (full motion videos).

LEGO Racers (here’s a low quality video I found on YouTube. I animated some scenes involving the “Murray Walker”-based character on the microphone.

LEGO Football (I worked on quite a bit of the animation – including the tunnel sequence, and some of the football game animations. 00:57-01:30).”

Lastly, I asked him if he could remember anything about references/style requirements for the games. He then mentioned a LEGO bible they referenced:

“Although there was a LEGO bible when it came to the look of the Minifigures (e.g. exact measurements and Pantone colours), there wasn’t really a style guide for their performance. And we, as animators practically “broke” the characters, by introducing deforming (as opposed to rigid) torsos, arms & legs, which we felt perfectly suited the Minifigures in the digital motion video. We animated to storyboards, which at times had the Minifigures performing all sorts of crazy actions, and so we wanted a Minifigure rig which would literally give us the flexibility to add real dynamism to the animation that was there in the ‘boards.

In terms of reference, for LEGO Football I remember gathering the game reference from actual football coverage. And when I came to animate I would use the reference mostly for timing and posing, but then exaggerate or “cartoonify” the movement to be in keeping with the Minifigure style of animation from previous FMVs – most of which were at the expert hands of Martin Lanzinger. I had free rein to an extent in the animation clips I was tasked with, but made sure to keep the style as close as possible to Martin’s fun and often over the top approach to animating the Minifigures.”

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