One of the most surprising phenomena to hit the world of video games over the last decade has been a series of games based on lego. Perhaps most famously associated with the ‘Lego Star Wars’ games, the franchise has become hugely successful against all the odds. Now, with the games seemingly set to go on for many years into the future, lego is about to make its way into the cinema with a 3D animated movie.

‘The Lego Movie’ would scarcely have been believable a few years ago, but the commercial success of the television series has ensured that we are about to see it in multiplexes all over the world. The animators involved have a big challenge on their hands; deliver something as slick as the biggest productions of Disney and Pixar, yet retain the humour and lo-fi look of the video games.

Thus, although the entire world which the characters populate in ‘The Lego Movie’ naturally enough looks as if it has been constructed from lego, in actual fact the whole construct is based on rather sophisticated 3D animation. Actually constructing the sets from lego would have been far too prohibitive in terms of cost, so the animators turned to computing techniques instead.

The animation team involved in ‘The Lego Movie’ have opted for a largely CG animation based solution to deliver the sophisticated 3D animation effects which appear in the movie, and have also mixed in some real lego as well. Co-director Chris Miller addressed some questions about the film’s animation technique directly on Twitter, and stated that using computer-drawn 3D animation allowed ‘The Lego Movie’ team to utilise the same techniques as some of the biggest and most popular animated films, while retaining the unique look of the film.

In order to create a lego universe that was authentic to not only casual viewers but also fans of the kids’ plaything, the team behind ‘The Lego Movie’ literally spent hours playing with actual lego, including building models of even large-scale vehicles such as a pirate ship. The early trailers certainly suggest that this has paid off as the animation and visual effects involved in the movie are extremely pleasing.

While this movie will doubtless attract a captive audience among people who enjoyed the video games, it also seems certain that those fascinated with animation will particularly want to see this film in order to check out the unique 3D animated world which has been created to bring this movie to life.