Collaborative Storytelling: The Crystal Quest

Here we are again with a collaborative storytelling, but in a new format. Usually, we used to form a group of people who were assigned the same set and had to structure a story in 10 images.

This time, we formed a group of photographers who had to choose sets from a selection belonging to a specific theme and build three distinct stories, each with something in common that could connect them in some way.

The theme chosen was the brand new City Space, and after a call for action on our Discord server, we invited Jerome and Trevor, along with a moderator, which in this case was me. After all, a new format needed to be tested firsthand.

Working within budget parameters, we divided the sets as follows:

Jerome
60434 Space Base and Rocket Launchpad
60428 Space Construction Mech

Trevor
60432 Command Rover and Crane Loader
60430 Interstellar Spaceship
60429 Spaceship and Asteroid Discovery

Myself
60433 Modular Space Station
60431 Space Explorer Rover and Alien Life

After many ideas and considerations, here are the three stories we created!

Story by Trevor: Somewhere in Space

On a far off asteroid, brave adventurers make a thrilling discovery but… they’re not alone!

With the discovery of these precious crystals they bring out their mighty command rover to excavate this mineral-rich landscape.

After running tests at their mobile lab it’s clear that these gems aren’t just for looks but they’re also a great source for energy!

Mining is a breeze with help from their handy robot companion.

Alien plants and energy crystals galore! The rest of the team will never believe this! Better snap a few pictures.

Hopping from asteroid to asteroid a little green watcher is never too far behind.

With their spaceships charged up and ready to fly it’s time to report back to home base and tell the others about their amazing discovery.

3, 2, 1, and we have liftoff!

With its main thrusters engaged the interstellar cruiser zips through the vast nebula.

And with a stowaway on board the adventure has only begun…

Story by The APhOL: An Intergalactic Heist

The Galactic Brickport, orbiting around the planet B3N-N1.

Inside one of the modules, a clandestine visitor is snooping around. How did he get there? It would surely be an interesting story to tell

Meanwhile, on the surface of the planet, team 60431 is exploring, searching for valuable resources.

A glow in the ground catches the attention of the rover crew, prompting them to stop and take a closer look.

Something is hidden somewhere among the rocks. It’s better to contact the space station to request reinforcements.

Upon the arrival of the space train, the excavation site is ready to recover the precious resources.

The precise mining robot retrieves the crystal and delivers it into the safe hands of a LEGOnaut from the team. Or does it?

The LEGOnaut takes advantage of the confusion to climb onto the space motorcycle and drive away with the precious cargo.

Once safely hidden from prying eyes, he can finally rid himself of that cumbersome spacesuit and resume his natural alien form, rejoicing in the successful operation. Why is he so attracted to that crystal?

Story by Jerome: Battery-powered

The space station of colony 60434 is in full swing. For the past month, this mission has been working at the very edge of the system to study new energy sources.

The mineral planet is home to deposits of Stud crystal, a compound used to power most of the Legonauts’ equipment.

Among the natives, the alien who stole the crystal has finally found his family. He alerts them to the Legonauts’ drilling operations, which endanger the sacred crystals. A delegation comes to meet the scientists and ask them to stop drilling.

After handing over their stock of crystals to the aliens, the team instructs the scientists to find an alternative with the materials available locally, to save the mission.

After several weeks of fruitless research, a reconnaissance mission is sent to analyze a rift where a weak energy emission has been recorded.

Arriving on site, the expedition discovers the remains of a ship that has been missing for 30 years, but still appears to have energy.

The famous Commander Benny welcomes them and tells them about his journey, including how he was able to survive thanks to the energy derived from mushrooms growing in the rift.

It’s time for the reconnaissance mission to call the station to repatriate samples and prepare a catalyst to replace the old crystal batteries.

Since this episode, the legonauts have made friends with the locals and life is good on this colony, which has been promoted to a central research center for the space program.

Behind The Scenes

Trevor

My favorite aspect of shooting spaceships is capturing all of the individual lighting passes. In post production I’m able to combine and blend specific elements from each pass to create the perfect shot. It’s so satisfying to see the final composite come together! 

Another handy trick for space scenes is using a screen or monitor for the starfield background. Inspired by the colorful box art for these sets I made custom starry nebula scenes in Blender. Even if I ended up replacing the backdrop in post, nothing beats having the real thing as reference.

Mixing hard and soft light sources can really help make a scene pop. I rely on a large softbox (Aputure Lightdome II) for my key light and a smaller light with either a reflector or snoot to emulate the harsh sunlight distinct to space photography.

Not only am I mixing light sources but also their color temperatures. By mixing different strength CTO (color temperature orange) gels I am able to retime the color temperature in post in order to create an otherworldly blue look to the scene. The combo of light sources and color temperatures can save a shot from looking too flat.

Build only what the camera sees! When paired with the right lens and aperture it’s amazing how few pieces you need to create a seemingly vast vista. Since I don’t have the largest collection I often rely on my 100mm macro lens to compress the scene and hide the gaps.

The APhOL

Preparing the setup for the planet was rather simple once I had a clear idea of what I wanted to create. The surface of the planet would be fully utilized, serving as the stage for various scenes.

The first thing I had to think about was… the end. To be more precise, the whole cleanup. After all, I would have to use sand, and we all know how annoying that can be. So, I used blue cellophane sheets, which I typically use for water. This time they would contain the sand and provide me with a useful colored gel to transform the light at the point where the LEGOnauts would find the crystal.

I wanted to use red terrarium sand to give that different look to the planet. More ‘alien’.

I sprinkled the sand with a spoon and then placed some rocks to enrich the scenery.

For the background, I used crumpled brown wrapping paper, trying to simulate a kind of mountain range.

With this setup, I shot 6 different scenes, moving the various objects each time to simulate different locations.

As for the light coming from the crystal, I simply placed an LED light under the blue paper. At the same time, I removed some sand to allow the light to shine through.

Jerome

For the majority of the images, I used a fairly simple setup: a black fabric stretched out in a roll, onto which I placed very fine sand (we have a lot of this in the region). The sand was modelled with a few pebbles to give a more lunar appearance.

For the lighting, I used 2 flashes, one very powerful backlight and a second less powerful frontlight. The light was corrected in post-production, and dots were added to the black background to simulate a starry sky.

I chose to keep this setting for all the images to maintain consistency throughout the story.

However, I was able to vary, particularly in the sequence that takes place in the rift. I wanted a different, warmer atmosphere, like in a rocky cavern. For these images, I used continuous light instead. The cave is created with sand, rocks and a kraft bag for the background. I used an old Lego ship as a nod to the old space themes of my childhood (set 6884).

I used a micro LED from Lightailing to light up the inside of the tank created by Benny.

For the photo taken inside the station, the space available initially didn’t allow me to create a satisfactory scene. I had to enlarge the base towards the front in order to move the laboratory part in front of the changing rooms, and create a roof to prevent the backlight from penetrating too far from the top.

For the high angle photo, I made a Lego Technic hanger which is mounted on a clamp that in turn is attached to a Giraffe stand. This allows me to take the photo while generating the shadow of the craft as it flies over the landing area. The characters looking up simply have their heads stuck on the tenon with tape.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Zouchka says:

    This was so awesome!!! My kid and I loved the stories. I giggled at the appearance of Commander Benny and the BtS actually really interested my kids. They just started learning to read and write and I can already see ideas for their own storytelling already brewing behind their eyes.

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