Today we have a special 10K Club Interview! Back for the third time with RATATOUILLE: LET'S OPEN THE DOORS, brothers Thomas and Nicolas Carlier, a.k.a. BRICK PROJECT and CARLIERTI are demonstrating incredible perseverance. Will it be 'third time lucky' for the brothers? Let us know what you think in the comments!
- Who are you?
Thomas: Hi, my name is Thomas Carlier.
Nicolas: Hello, I’m Nicolas Carlier, Thomas' brother.
- Where are you from?
Thomas: I’m from Switzerland but I grew up in France, next to Paris.
Nicolas: I’m currently living in Switzerland.
- How old are you?
Thomas: I’m 24 years old.
Nicolas: I’m 24 years old.
- What do you study or do for a living?
Thomas: I’m a 6th-year medical student.
Nicolas: I’m studying architecture and just finished my Master’s degree.
- What hobbies do you have?
Thomas: Watching movies, digital drawing and vector designs. I do a lot of sports (mostly cycling).
Nicolas: Besides building with LEGO bricks, my hobbies are 3D art (rendering and animation), as well as running/swimming.
- Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
Thomas: Yes, you can find all my LEGO creations on my Instagram: @brickproject_lego.
Nicolas: I have an Instagram account, where I regularly post new MOCs @nicolas_builds.
- Have you created any LEGO MOCs (my own creations) that you’re particularly proud of? What is it, why are you proud of it and do you have a photo of it?
Thomas: Two years ago, I created a LEGO escape game that I submitted on Lego IDEAS - one of the most complex projects I have ever created. Being a huge lover of mysteries and spy games, assembling this model was quite a unique experience. Even if the building was very tricky and challenging, I’m so proud to see how the model turned out. What's funny is that the project reached 10,000 votes recently and it is now in the same review as this Ratatouille set.
I'm also quite proud of the brick vignettes that I produce on Instagram, especially those based on Disney films such as Luca, Encanto and Up.
Nicolas: Yes, plenty. If I only have to take one, I think I will choose a MOC I did two years ago, which is a build inspired by the Kraken and consisting of a microscale ship that I placed inside a treasure chest. I had a lot of fun building this model, even if this was quite challenging on that scale.
- How and when did your interest in LEGO products come about?
Thomas: Since my childhood! The LEGO themes of the time were truly amazing in terms of universe, imagination and playability. I must say that with a few sets, I could spend hours playing with my brother around knights and fantastic monsters.
Nicolas: I think I was playing with LEGO bricks from a very early age.
- What is the LEGO hobby to you? What does it mean to you? How does it fit in your life? E.g. build, display, meetups, play the games or 'just' watch the cartoons.
Thomas: Being into digital LEGO building, I must say that with social networks like Instagram, Flickr and YouTube I can easily share LEGO creations with an online community that keeps growing. And that is truly incredible, because you can admire LEGO MOCs from creators from all over the world, sharing their own local culture through the MOCs.
Nicolas: LEGO building has been part of my life since a very early age, and I’m loving it even more today. The most beautiful thing about the LEGO hobby, is that it creates a language which is understood by everyone and thus helps people to bring together and share the same interest. I think growing up with LEGO bricks is therefore essential and LEGO Ideas helps in creating a strong community.
- What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
Thomas: Johnny Thunder, Harry Potter and Indiana Jones. I really hope that sets are planned for the release of Indiana Jones 5!
Nicolas: As Thomas said, I would say Johnny Thunder and Harry Potter. I would also add the Architecture theme to the list!
- What is your favourite official LEGO set ever? Why?
Thomas: For different price ranges here is my ranking. Under 100$ definitely 21303 Wall-E, such a perfect set, packed with a lot of details (a set that has a special place on my desk). Under 250$, I would say 10300 DMC Delorean BTTF. My biggest regret is not to have bought the LEGO Ideas Back to the Future set when I was younger. So, when I heard that a new BTTF set was going to be released, I was so thrilled! I have to say that the features of this model are quite clever and very unique! Under $500, I would say 71043 Hogwarts Castle created by Justin Ramsden is still the best building experience I've ever had with many excellent building techniques.
Nicolas: Being a huge fan of Harry Potter, I really love the 76405 Hogwarts-Express.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
Thomas: I have so many favourite pieces! I would say piece number 22885 (Brick, Modified 1 x 2 x 1 2/3 with studs on the side). Since this piece was introduced in the Brickheadz sets, I can't stop using it. An excellent way to avoid the lower gap that we had with this piece 11211 (Brick, Modified 1 x 2 with studs on Side).
Nicolas: I would say 71137b. If you are thinking about making a spaceship/steampunk build, I would immediately think about this piece. It always gives a steampunk look to the build.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
Thomas: I am a big fan of Justin Ramsden's construction techniques, Wes Talbott's fantastic universe, Nick Vas's creativity, and Chris McVeigh's beautiful sets.
On the fan designer side, I really like Jonas Kramm, Lego nuts, and my brother Nicolas_Carlier!
Nicolas: Being a huge fan of LEGO microscales, I really enjoy Jeff Friesen's work! I really admire his building and presentation skills. And as Thomas tagged me I would also add him to the list!
- Is there one or more particular LEGO-related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
Thomas: I mostly check my Instagram feed to find inspiration from other builders and/or artists. Flickr or Pinterest are sometimes also useful tools, but I don’t really like the interface.
Nicolas: I also find inspiration through Instagram.
ABOUT YOUR PROJECT
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
Thomas: Since the release of "Ratatouille" in theatres, I immediately fell in love with the story, the cinematography, the sound work and the characters. It's rare to have a film that mixes so many emotions (joy, sadness, fear and hope) while keeping a fairly homogeneous and coherent plot. I must say that even if I am still a big Pixar fan, I find that no one of their recent films have managed to surpass Ratatouille, despite the fact that the animation techniques were much less advanced in 2004. Even though Pixar movies gather a certain audience, surprisingly I see very few LEGO sets derived from them, and it's a shame. That's why I decided to submit a LEGO Ideas project based on Ratatouille, in the hope of making things happen. Seeing one day a set based on this masterpiece would be a dream come true for me!
- How long was the process of making the project, 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?
Thomas: Having already made two sets around Ratatouille, I must say that the preparation part was quickly done here. I spent most of my time (approx. 1 week) preparing the plans of the model: I wanted to present to my supporters a closed version of the restaurant. As I like the open and playable possibility of the two previous versions, I took care to make each part of the building openable.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
Thomas: The biggest frustration was the maximum limit of 3000 bricks. I would have liked to add a lot more interior details (especially on Linguini's house and on the rat restaurant) that I find quite empty, but that's the way it is; I think I was just too ambitious for this third version. However, I think that all these elements are necessary because they allow the recreation of almost all the scenes of the movie!
The most difficult part was playing with the 45° angle of the restaurant facade. Because this time I wanted to completely close the whole building, I had to avoid (at all costs) all potential gaps I could create with this complex angle. But in the end, everything is clean, and I'm quite proud of it. The overall shape of the building is exactly what I imagined in my head!
- 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?
Thomas: Approximately three weeks (1 week for planning design, 1-2 weeks for construction and 1 week for rendering and setting up the project). I did the first two parts. Nicolas did the third part.
I mostly shared the project on the first day of the launch, so in the end, this part took a minor place. With all the support and shares from the LEGO community, the project quickly gathered the necessary number of votes, so I didn't need to promote the project further. It was quite unexpected to see so many people supporting the project again, so I wanted to thank you all again for your precious help!
Nicolas: It took me around one month to make all the renders for the model and the presentation page.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
Thomas: It is still something magical to reach this symbolic number of 10,000 supporters, even after a fourth time! I must say that after two versions of Gusteau’s restaurant, I felt like I had reached the end of the adventure, but this idea of a closed restaurant changed the whole perspective. I was so afraid that my former supporters would not approve of this new idea. Hopefully, it seems that it’s not the case!
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
Approx 3000 bricks, just to fit the maximum limit.
- What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
Thomas: My favourite part is definitely the first floor (the rat-restaurant). This was something that I already included in my first version but did not give much credit to it. This time, I wanted to have a larger place that you can play with. Of course, I would have liked to add a little more detail, but unfortunately, I had already reached the 3000 bricks limit. Even if I couldn't finish it completely, I'm proud to see it included!
- If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
Thomas: I always start with LEGO Digital Designer, which is not available anymore officially (but I still have the software on my desktop). I then export it all into Mecabricks (an online digital tool) to add tiny details to the model.
Nicolas: For the renders, I used Blender (with the help of a template from Mecabricks), and photoshop for the final touches.
- If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
Thomas: All the stickers and custom elements were made with Adobe Illustrator.
ABOUT LEGO IDEAS
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
Thomas: Build what you love sounds like an overtraded phrase, but it’s the truth! A good project is a project that you have perfected down to the smallest details, a project that you will work on for several days or weeks, so please do a project that you are proud of and that you think has a chance to be turned into an official set.
- What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support for your Product Idea?
I usually share my project on Instagram, Facebook and Reddit. Social media seem to be nowadays the only way to get in touch with a large audience!
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
Thomas: Being a huge Pixar fan, Wall-e is my favourite project and official set! My second favourite project is a model assembled by Nicola Stocchi and Gabriele Zannotti the Planet Express Delivery Ship. I was very disappointed when I heard that it wasn’t approved by the LEGO Group. My third favourite project is The Seven Dwarf's Hut by Hanwasyellowfirst.
Nicolas: My favourite project is “MICROSCALE JURASSIC PARK” by Senteosan, but it is quite old now! I was so sad to see the project didn’t make it to the 10K, since I was really hyped about this project.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
Thomas: Sharing my passion while having the chance to see my creation turned into an official set: this is definitely what pushed me first to submit a project. I would simply advise new users not to be afraid to start and try. Focus especially on the main image, because this is how you attract a potential supporter to your project rather than another. Maybe at the beginning, the project will not get the necessary number of votes but with a little perseverance, you will see the numbers take off.
Nicolas: The main tip I would give is to focus also on the presentation. The model/building is as important as the presentation, and I feel this last part is sometimes neglected!
- Do you have plans to submit any other Product Ideas in the future? If yes, can you give us a hint of what that might be?
Thomas: No plans at the moment, but I am sure I will submit a new project soon. I have so many ideas in my head just waiting to be built!
Nicolas: I don’t have any plans for a future Ideas submission right now, but lots of other projects related to LEGO building.
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- thomas carlier
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