How many Lego pieces did it take to make The Lego Movie? It’s complicated. As it turns out, the film’s creators, directing and writing duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, didn’t just rely on actual Legos for the film; as the New York Times pointed out, just the number of bricks required for the task alone would’ve already cost millions of dollars.
According to Warner Bros. Pictures, there are a total of 3,863,484 unique Lego bricks seen in the movie. But if you were to recreate the entire film only using Legos, you’d need 15,080,330, the studio said.
With a unique blend of CG animation and actual Lego sets, the final look of The Lego Movie has a surprising visual depth; it almost appears as if someone painstakingly animated each and every movement through stop-motion. That’s because the animators went to great lengths to ensure that they included aspects of real Lego pieces when creating their characters.
In the video above, which was edited using footage provided by the studio, several animators of the film describe the intricate process of bringing virtual Lego bricks and scenes to life.
“We tried to be quite authentic with the actual Lego product itself,” said CG supervisor Damien Gray. “There’s a lot of detail put into the sticker work, the decal work, the mold lines, chips, chunks, scratches — we tried to incorporate a lot of that.” In order to achieve that “played-with” look for Emmet and the other 182 unique minifigures that appear in the film, animators observed the physical models under microscopes to get every detail right.
In addition to scrutinizing the appearance of the Lego bricks themselves, Lord and Miller also took into account other factors they wanted to mimic from stop-motion videos.
“If you were animating this in real life, there would be all of these dust particles, and there is a bit of actual dandruff,” Miller told the Times. “We did a little test of how much was too much.”
So what else from the film resembles real life? Take a look at this blooper reel in which the Legos (or is it their voiceover actors?) have a little too much fun: