The animation is so smooth that I’d ordinarily be gnashing my teeth with envy. Fortunately, a pleasant, cheerful Mozart piece is boosting my mood as I watch “Stranger than Fishin’” by Zach Macias of Mindgame Studios. It’s a LEGO stop motion animation about a man catching everything except the fish he wants.
Initially, you might be thinking that it’s a “cute video.” You might be marveling at its loveliness and the technical proficiency of the animator. After all, every frame looks beautiful. There’s no flickering or uneven color, meaning great lighting and/or cleaning in post-production. The color is beautifully saturated. The objects bounce and roll like you would expect them to in real life.
In the comment section of the video, a handful of freaks point out alleged (perhaps correct) tiny technical shortcomings. The topics of the rest of the 700 or so comments include the LEGO pieces viewers recognized or wanted, with the majority being compliments. That’s what’s really impressive to me, because I imagine the audience for LEGO stop motion animation videos is predominantly young, male, and interested in superheroes, Star Wars, fighting, gunshots, blood . . . you get the picture.
To see this audience in love with a short film about a man fishing warms the cockles of my heart.
A moment later, you’re engrossed in the story. You don’t even care that there’s no fishing line in the rod because the whirring reel sound is enough.
The sound effects are wonderful. Every thump, squeak, and splash takes you further away from the fact that the sky is a piece of paper and meets a shiny blue surface representing the ocean.
But now the plot is moving along. The music is speeding up, mirroring our hero’s frustration.
There’s no dialog, but we can almost hear the hero’s thoughts: “This sucks, but I’ll try again.” We’ve all been there, right? It’s a relatable situation that makes us root for him and feel our humanity.
And now, all the suspense and surprises come in. I won’t spoil them for you. Instead, I’ll say that I love the cinematography. The close-ups on facial expressions, on feet, on the rod . . . Seriously. On a PIECE of the rod, so you’re looking at a black curved line on a blue screen. Out of context, that would hold very little interest, but here, when the rod bends and you hear it creaking, you get excited. And with reason, because the tension has been building.
Wait. That’s not cinematography; that’s storytelling and observation of human nature and body language. Never mind, because . . .
You’re not expecting what happens next! You’ll be laughing, shaking your head, and feeling good.
Before you see the film, remember that this LEGO animation was made in 2010 by a young man, Zach Macias. That youngster is now a professional filmmaker you can hire for commissions.
“Stranger than Fishin’” is delightful, short, relatable, funny, beautifully animated, and surprising. In other words, it’s a must-see! Ready?