I bumped into Alex Kobbs while waiting for the shuttle to New York Comic Con. We chatted quite a bit because the bus was late, and that’s when I found out just what kind of work Alex does. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for an interview, so after exchanging cards we promised to follow up in more detail later.
Alex Kobbs is a professional animator and Lego brick enthusiast. A graduate of Fitchburg State College’s [well regarded] film program, he began to specialize in stop motion animation in 2007. His Lego Wii short, released in 2007, gained more than 3 million views, and still climbing today. Kobbs’ next major hit was the reveal of a Lego Zanzibar model (a scale model of a multiplayer map from the Halo 2 video game). The video became one of the most circulated videos amongst gamers, appearing on major game-news sites such as Kotaku.com and earning a spot on the Halo 3 Legendary Edition DVD. His first professional credit was an additional camera operator on the 2006 crossword puzzle documentary, Wordplay, which was an official Sundance Film Festival selection and nominated four times for best documentary in various events. In 2009 he was commissioned by Bidray.com to create a hand-drawn animated ad that advertised how easy it was to use the site.
Michael Tresca (MT): Tell us about your latest video, Bricks of War.
Alex Kobbs (AK): This movie is a 2 minute short based on the types of encounters you come accross in the Gears of War games. I knew the 3rd game was coming out and I wanted to make something that would capture the feel of those games and give the fans something to smile about.
MT: Is Gears of War your favorite first-person shooter franchise or are you more of a Halo guy?
AK: Not to sound like a gaming snob, but it’s 3rd-person. LOL. Well, it’s definitely a favorite but not THE favorite. I do love Halo too, but really I’ll be into anything that has good, tight controls. For example, I played the heck out of the new Warhammer 40k Space Marine game that recently came out, and I was disappointed because I think it got buried in all the other Holiday releases. It was a seriously fun to play shooter and I hope they make more just like it. Ummm, Dead Space, Doom 1&2&3, Goldeneye, Rainbow 6 Vegas series, Starcraft……really I’ll play almost anything except RPG’s and MMO’s. I played enough Pokemon back in the day to last me a life-time, and that’s not even the most hard-core of RPG’s.
MT: Do you play on Xbox Live?
AK: I do, but I don’t really give out my Gamertag…the influx of friend requests and messages would probably red-ring my Xbox! Anyway, I don’t play as often as I used to and my friend’s list is just crazy. I don’t even know who I’m playing with half the time. But…I consider myself to be at least above average in most shooters. I was crazy at Halo 2 back in the day before they reset the stats.
MT: How long did it take to make the video?
AK: About 2 and a half weeks, maybe more. It actually looks like I filmed the entire film in one shot but I stopped and started again after about ever 300 pictures. I was very careful not to move the camera while I was out.
MT: Did you base the bricks on gameplay straight from the game after you played it?
AK: Yes. Every moment in the film is designed to replicate some sort of action you do in the Gears of War series. I tried to replicate the zoom-in effect when you aim down the sights, the rhoddie run, the grenade throw, the chainsaw executions, ect. Those moments are what fans look for and it makes them go, “OMG! That’s just like the actual game!”
MT: What do you think of Gears 3’s campaign? How about its multiplayer?
AK: LOL, people may not believe me when I say this but I haven’t even picked up Gears 3 yet. I was so busy trying to make the film that I didn’t have time. However, I have played enough Gears 1 & 2 to just instinctively know how that game feels, and I referenced gameplay footage from E3 and other showings to get the moments in the film right. I am going to pick it up soon though and play straight through the Campaign. I need to see what happens to Dom’s tomatoes!
MT: Where can fans contact you?
AK: The best way is through my youtube channel, or the Kooberz Studios facebook page. I also use twitter, but I can’t visit it very often otherwise I’d never get any animation done.
MT: Any more Gears of War stuff on the horizon? What game videos are you working on next?
AK: I don’t have any immediate plans for another Gears film right now. Sorry. I’m already working on a new project that’s based on another popular game franchise. But I will say that my long-awaited and delayed “Battle of the Brick, Built for Combat” is going to come out and there will be news on that very soon. I wish I could tell everyone what’s going on with that film but I’m in very delicate talks with some important people and nothing has been finalized yet. All I can ask is that the fans bear with me and keep watching for news about it.