Tom and Rob first began toying with stop-motion animation in Middle School. Their first on-screen object was a LEGO Man, chosen because of the abundance of LEGO in Rob's basement and because of its pose-ability. Back then they were using Rob's Dad's video camera and were lucky to film at a rate of one frame per second. The images were blurry and there was no sound. The experiments evolved to include clay monsters and other LEGO props. The most advanced animations made then were a game of Battle Chess and short epics starring LEGO space men. Soon the term "Legomation" was used exclusively to refer to the process.

Legomation returned in High School. Tom and Joel animated two chapters from Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for a presentation in 11th grade English class. Their five minute animation included title cards, scenes from famous movies and, for the first time, credits and a soundtrack.

Joel and Rob used Legomation for a French Class skit in 12th grade titled Jacques-Pierre, Guilliame, et Les Meubles. For the first time there was spoken dialogue (in French, of course). A computer was also used for the first time- to generate the credits, and for outputting sound to the final VHS tape.

Shortly after the French video came another assignment, this time for Calculus. Tom, Rob, Joel, and a fourth friend worked together on their presentation, The Wonderfully Wacky World of Related Rates, which featured three short animated segments, each involving a perilous situation and a mathematical problem. The Wonderfully Wacky World of Related Rates was the most advanced yet, featuring narration, sound effects, and computer-generated credits. Michael first became involved in the process here, supplying his superior knowledge of calculus as well as his computer's video card.

In college, Tom and Rob briefly explored the concept of recording directly to the computer, thus no longer being limited to the terrible frame rate that VHS recording permitted. They made plans for a claymation short over the summer of 1999, but other than writing a script, the plan never materialized.

Then, it Happened...

During the spring of 2000, Joel began pushing the idea of making a short Legomation film over the summer of 2000. He began to develop a script, centered around the idea of a James Bond story set at the University of Michigan. Soon Rob and Tom signed on, and in April 2000, the script was finalized and pre-production began. Legos are not Enough was to be ten minutes in length. It would be filmed and edited digitally, with sound effects, computer graphics, and dialogue. And it would be done over the four remaining months of summer vacation.

Actual filming began around the second week of May in Rob's Parent's Basement. The Pirate Ship sequence was filmed first and became a reality check for the team. Such extensive filming at a higher frame rate was terribly time-consuming. Set-up and lighting took even more time. The Pirate sequence alone was over two minutes long. Legos are not Enough quickly became a much larger project.

So Where did the 4th Guy Come From?

Michael spent a lot of his free time at Rob's and began joking about making a documentary about the team making the movie. Soon he was down in Rob's basement as often as everyone else, filming stupid and funny moments. The vast amount of production work wound up consuming most of his time and before long he put down his video camera and the team became four members strong. 4 Guys, 1 Brain soon became the team's name.

Keep Rolling...

Filming continued throughout the summer. As the production progressed, new advancements were made in everything from animation techniques to the software that was being used. For the first time filmed images were being combined and manipulated with computers, resulting in much more fluid animation and special effects. Towards the end of the summer a recording room was set up in Rob's house. Auditions were held among friends and acquaintances for the lead roles, and soon most of the voices were recorded.


It was the end of summer, and although the project was impressive, it was far from complete. Two whole scenes still needed to be filmed, while two more awaited computer-generation. Some of the voices still hadn't been recorded, and sound effects were nearly non-existent. Reluctantly, the production was halted, packed up, and taken back to Ann Arbor, Michigan for completion during the school year.

14 Weeks of Nothingness, and Then...

Junior Year in College was extremely time-consuming, and so no work was done on the project the entire fall semester. There was strong resolve to finish the project over winter break, however, and after three hard weeks at the end of December and beginning of January, production and post-production were completed.

Legos are not Enough was completed on Sunday, January 21, 2001. Its total running time is slightly over 17 minutes. It features synchronized sound, computer animation and effects, 11 scenes, and over 9000 frames of stop-motion animation. A web site was established at for displaying the film online and for providing additional information on both the film and 4 Guys, 1 Brain Productions.