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Behind the Scenes:

Behind the Scenes: "Rock and Roll All Nite!"

February 08, 2015

The Making of a Legendary LEGO® Rock and Roll Band

Ever see the band "KISS" in concert?  If you've been so lucky, then you've been witness to the fire breathing, blood-spitting, smoking guitars, shooting rockets, levitating drum kits, and pyrotechnics that were featured in their hard rocking shows!

For a recent LEGO® art creation, we thought it would be fun to pay homage to one of our favorite bands, while growing up in the 70's and 80's.

Okay, okay... stop doing the math!  Yes... we are "old" by many of our younger fan's standards!  We prefer, however, to think of ourselves as classic or vintage!
The idea was to recreate one of the rocking shows that the band is known for putting on.  We wanted to go all out and include as much detail as we could think of... and build with our LEGO® bricks.  Before anything else, we needed a stage, of course.
 This part was easy and really a very basic and straight forward build.
We finished it off with some smooth tiles to create a polished look.  Our stage was complete and even included a raised area for Peter Criss to play his drums!
The first bit of detail that was added to the scene was a couple of spot lights and the rigging, required to hang them.
A couple of spot lights are not going to do justice for a band of this magnitude though, so we took it a step further and worked on some equipment that would provide a better light show for the members of the band.
Every rock band dreams of seeing their name in lights and "KISS" was no exception.  In fact, they proudly flaunt it at their shows and we knew this had to be included in our scene.
Now, anyone that has seen "KISS" play live, or even just seen video from a show, knows that "KISS" likes to play with fire... literally!  What's cooler than explosions and fire for visuals, while the band rocks out at ear bleeding decibels?  Some LEGO® fire would be a must for our photograph!
Okay, more detail... Let's add a couple of amps, and some equipment.  Do you recognize those speakers?  They've been used before in some other SillyBrickPics™ creations.  See Leia and the Imperials and Ben and Jerry, for example.  When we build a little something that has the potential to be used again, we like to keep it assembled for future use.  Most of the scenes we create are dismantled after the shoot is done, but there are times when you come up with that gem of an idea that will save you some time in future projects, if you don't have to build it all over again.
Kiss fans come from all walks and all ages.  This is the crowd that showed up for our LEGO® style rock show!
With everything else in place, it was time to introduce the band.  As we talked about in our "Make a Custom Minifigure" post, not long ago, not all of the characters that you may like to use will be prefabricated.  Some times it takes swapping out a head, hat, hair, torso, etc., to get the look you need.
In this case, we were able to get our hands on the "KISS" figures that are made by the K'NEX® toy company.  While the faces look great, we were not impressed with the feel, build and look of most of these items.  So we took to creating a hybrid K'NEX® / LEGO® figure.
What we kept from the original toys were the heads, armor for Gene and Ace, as well as the boot bottoms that attach under the feet.  With those, we chose some different hair styles that came from LEGO® minifigures (we did use the "Kragle" to attach the bun to the top of Gene's hair), yellow LEGO® minifigure hands, a few styles of LEGO® minifigure legs and four torsos that were taken from the new Series 12 LEGO® "Rocker" minifigures.  The combination of all these pieces resulted in a much better "KISS" likeness than was available from K'NEX®.
When all was said and done, this was the scene as we assembled it.
Now here's where the real magic happened.  The mood, color and ambiance of the concert we had in our imagination would not be easily achieved through traditional methods of lighting.  To get the right look for this scene, we went with a style of lighting known as "Light Painting."  All the light used for this scene was generated soley by the pen light you see here.  The way this is done is to have your room lights way down... almost completely dark.  You are going to want to use a long exposure here, so there needs to be almost no ambient light present.  Our shutter speed here was a full 30 seconds.  It goes without saying, that a tripod is necessary for this kind of work.  With the shutter open for that long, you will want to dial the ISO down as low as it goes and use a small aperture.  We went with f14 for this shot.
The low ISO keeps the sensitivity to light down, while the small f14 aperture cuts down on the amount of light that is let through the lens.  Those settings, combined with a darkened room will yield a picture that should be completely black.
Now here's the fun part... you get to paint!  Since you have a whole 30 seconds to work with, you simply get in close and point that pen light at the areas of the scene that you want to be lit.  Don't leave the light pointed in one area for very long, but rather keep it moving in a painterly fashion, across the scene.  For our image, we brushed over all of the stage lights, the individual yellow pieces on the large "KISS" sign and just brushed quickly and lightly over the band members.  A swift waft over the audience was all that was needed to give them just the hint of light that was required, while keeping the attention on the band and the stage.
This is really a bit of trial and error, but with digital photography, we have the benefit of immediately seeing the results of our shot right on the back of the camera.  This took us about 9 tries before we were happy with the results.  Sometimes it could take many more and sometimes less... you never really know until you try it.
Although we didn't make use of it in this scene, a larger light like this one from iNova, comes in handy.  It creates a brighter light that will cover more area, with a wider spread.  Try to find a LED flashlight that is daylight balanced for the best results.
Well, that's it... a behind the scenes peek at the creation of our rock and roll photo project.  We hope that you've found it enjoyable and informative!

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