10K Club Interview: Björn Ramant, creator of House from Up
Let's meet Björn Ramant (aka bramant1), the creator of House from UP and our 10K Club member in focus today. Driven by his love for Disney and Pixar, Björn was particularly moved by the storyline behind this particular animation.
Please do help us congratulate Björn in the comments down below!
- Who are you?
- Where are you from?
- How old are you?
- What do you do for a living?
I’m a Software Architect.
- What hobbies do you have?
Play, design and build with LEGO bricks and I’m also a drummer.
- Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
I usually just post my work on Instagram, my Facebook page and from time to time I post small build tutorials on YouTube.
- Have you created any LEGO MOCs (my own creations) that you’re particularly proud of? What is it, why are you proud it and do you have a photo of it?
After designing my House from Up project digitally I recreated it as best as I could with real bricks. There is only a very small chance it could make it as a set, so I really wanted to build it to have it on display in my house.
Besides that, I like to recreate logos from bands or other things. Pretty happy with my Beastie Boys logo. This is 236 studs wide, so kind of hard to photograph. Another logo I’m very proud of is my Tool logo. Last but certainly not least, my Sanctum Sanctorum (Dr. Strange), based on the concept art by Bob Cheshire, so it has an extra storey.
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
In 2016 I came out of my dark ages by buying the “Ghostbusters Ecto-1” LEGO Ideas set and the “Simpsons House” set. These sets just screamed nostalgia, that’s the reason I bought them in the first place. I think I made my first small MOC in 2017 and since then kept trying to create newer and better things.
- What is LEGO for you? What does it mean for you? How does it fit in your life? E.g. build, display, meetups, play the games.. or 'just' watch the cartoons.
LEGO is actually a big part of my everyday life. It’s my way to reduce daily stress. I think I spend at least an hour every day doing LEGO related activities, like design in Bricklink Studio, building with physical bricks or sort some parts. I’m a member of LUG (LEGO User Group) “AFOLs United”, I participate in our meetings and display at our events. I recently also joined “BeLUG”.
- What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
If I really have to pick just one, I would choose LEGO Ideas, because I really like the variety of sets produced through LEGO Ideas! I’m not particularly inspired by just one theme, my preference in style is “clean and smooth”.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
I can’t choose between “The Upside Down” from “Stranger Things” and the recently released “Nintendo Entertainment System”. The techniques and colour usage of the first and the instant nostalgia of the second.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
The headlight brick and mainly in trans-clear. It’s just so versatile and helped me out on many occasions!
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
I would say Justin Ramsden. Funny story is I accidentally caught him photographing my “Hard Block Cafe” model at SFW (Skærbæk Fan Weekend) and that was the perfect time to start a short conversation. I guess it was a good move to put the Yellow Submarine in the MOC :-).
He did such a great job on the Stranger Things set “The Upside Down”. I ran into Justin again while I was on LEGO Masters Netherlands/Belgium. He was a judge for the auditions and also our second Brickmaster for the finals. He is a great talent and such a nice guy at the same time!
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
I have quite a few “Go To” websites actually. The Brothers Brick, New Elementary, Tips&Bricks. Worth mentioning is Brickset of course and how could I forget: Bricklink! Other than that, I frequently browse Instagram and Flickr to get inspired and I’m active in a lot of Facebook groups, like “AFOLs of Facebook” for instance.
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
My wife and I (and my kids of course) are quite big Disney/Pixar fans. I love how they turned this seemingly sad story into a heartwarming one filled with hope and love. Besides that, the colours of the iconic house and the balloons are so cheerful, I knew I had to try and bring it to life.
- How long was the process of making the project did, and what did you have to research as well. What kind of prep, research and design phases did you go through to produce your creation?
The initial digital design took me about 2 weeks in Bricklink Studio 2.0. It looked nice but was too big to fit regular minifigs. I was also already at the part limit, so I couldn’t add balloons or anything else. Building it in real life would also have been quite a challenge. A few months later I did a complete redesign and mainly a “scale down” to minifig scale. This took me about another 2 weeks. It also “freed up” parts to either add an interior OR have a crack at the balloons. Everyone kept asking “Where are the balloons?!”, so that was an easy decision. The balloons were a big challenge though. I took me quite a few “evening sessions” to get them to look like they do now and be stable enough. I would love to add even more balloons, but I think it’s just a big enough bunch to make it work for the model. I mainly used some stills or screenshots from the movie and a few pics of a cardboard model I found online. The rest was really just trial and error.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
I like to recreate things as best as I can, so I wanted it to be as accurate to the movie as possible. I used so many small tiles, the first challenge was staying under the 3.000 parts limit. Since the chances of it becoming a real set are so small, I also really wanted to be able to build it with existing parts. When designing digitally, it’s tempting to choose parts in non-existing colours. The most difficult part of the house to recreate were the balloons!
- If you could talk to yourself before you started on this project, what would you tell her? What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
I would tell myself to add more of the “Up” story to make it come more alive. I would encourage myself to further reduce the part count and add at least a part of the interior. It might be less accurate, but it would appeal to a broader audience.
- How long did it take to complete the model? Did you finish it fairly quickly, or did it take a long time? And how did the build time compare to the time you spent promoting your Product Idea to reach 10,000 supporters?
The digital design took me about a month and a half of work in the evenings. Gathering parts took me a few weeks, but building the physical “proof of concept” to have it on display and take to conventions.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
Needless to say, that felt really amazing! It took a year and 5 months to get there.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
The final digital model is at 2.891 parts, I did change some things for the proof of concept and managed to reduce the part count to about 2.700.
- What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
I personally like the angles of the protruding windows at the front and the “SNOTted” yellow shingles (?). The balloons might be a close second. Oh, worth to mention is also my brick-built Dug :-)! I know LEGO doesn’t produce new moulds for LEGO Ideas sets and the house really needed.
- If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
I used Bricklink Studio and the built-in rendering function.
- If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
I only designed some prints for the minifigs I added. That took me quite some effort because I have no experience in photo editing whatsoever.
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
Pick a subject you’re passionate about. Ask for feedback of fellow LEGO builders and use that feedback to make your project even better. Do some research first, to see if it’s not already on LEGO Ideas. I only discovered there were already a few versions of the house when I was submitting it. So that’s something I learned a bit too late! :-) Don’t overly “spam” your project. If your project fits the taste of the public, it will get picked up!
- What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
I posted it on my social media accounts (mainly Facebook and Instagram) and advertised in some LEGO and Disney related Facebook groups. With every update to the project, I reposted it. After I finally completed the build, I took it to a few conventions. I made some brick-built QR codes that linked straight to the project to try and grab peoples attention. I also made some business card sized flyers to hand out with all information needed to get to the project on LEGO Ideas.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
Hard to choose actually. 2 of my favourite LEGO Ideas sets are “WALL-E” and the “Ecto-1”. I’m really looking forward to the “Home Alone” by adwind! I would have loved to get “Stitch” and “Johnny Five” as sets.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
It’s the only way get to get your own set built without being a real LEGO designer! :-) I feel it’s also kind of a bridge to new licenses for LEGO. Some tips I would like to have had upfront: do your research, don’t submit your project until you think it’s complete, accept feedback and use that to further fine-tune your creation.
- Do you have plans to submit any other Product Ideas in the future? If yes, can you give us a hint what that might be?
I still have 2 projects running right now: “Bender Bending Rodriguez” and “Kevin” (also from the movie “Up”), but I doubt they are going make it all the way to 10K. Currently, I’m not planning to submit any new project to LEGO Ideas right now. The rate at which projects are going through to 10K right now is kind of mind-blowing and a bit intimidating :-).
- 10k club
- 10k club interview
- house from up
- bjorn ramant