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10K Club Interview: THE MOTOGRAPH by Kongjirra

Welcome to today's 10K Club interview! We are kicking off this week with a minimalistic, yet stylish, product idea. Please welcome Darren, a.k.a. Kongjirra, and his THE MOTOGRAPH project. Inspired by a love for animation and optical illusions, Darren has created this brilliant innovation. Show your support, and find out more below.


 

ABOUT YOURSELF

  1. Who are you?
    Hey, my name is Darren Ballingall.
  2. Where are you from?
    I live in Melbourne, Australia, but I’m originally from Western Australia. I was Born in Kalamunda but raised on a farm just outside of a town called Collie. I moved to Perth when I was 19 to go to Art School. Not long after I moved to Melbourne and I’ve been here ever since. 
     
  3. How old are you?
    I am 49 years old, and a fan of LEGO for as long as I can remember. One of my first LEGO sets was the classic yellow castle set. 
     
  4. What do you study or do for a living?
    I design LEGO sculptures for a living – a dream job that love. I have studied art, animation, and interactive design and always follow things that really interest me. 
     
  5. What hobbies do you have?
    I enjoy video games, drawing, puzzles, animation, movies, playing and writing music and of course, making things from LEGO. 
     
  6. Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
    Instagram: dazduzlego
     
  7. 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?
    I have many creations I’m proud of and a lot of them are on my Instagram posts. 
     
  8. How and when did your interest in LEGO products come about?
    I was given gifts of Lego as a child – a basic set of bricks, a family set, and a classic yellow castle set. I was enthralled by a toy that could be reconfigured to make many different things and it stuck with me. I would request LEGO frequently for birthdays and Christmas, and now and then a small set from the supermarket that my Mum would give in and buy me so I’d stop whining. 

    Eventually, I wasn’t just making toys but started using it to make other things too: machines and sculptures. I would make static statuettes of characters I liked from cartoons and films. Machines with moving parts would hold a pen and draw geometric shapes. 

    Eventually, it made its way into artworks and everyday life. When I got my first full-time job I started to buy a lot of LEGO for myself and now have quite a bit and make all manner of things. 

  9. 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.
    LEGO is a very large part of my life, working with it for a living as well as using it as a way to relax and be creative. I like to make things that interest me with lots of moving parts and quirky ideas behind them. I find it comforting and is a great medium to put together a 3-dimensional idea very quickly.  
     
  10. What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
    I have always had an interest in spooky and supernatural things and my favourite theme was Monster Fighters. Ghosts, Zombies, vampires, werewolves, fish creatures, Frankenstein monsters, and everything that goes bump in the night – I love them all, and it came with a steampunk backdrop: fantastic! I hope to see more spooky and Halloween-themed sets in the future. 
     
  11. What is your favourite official LEGO set ever? Why?
    My favourite is the Monster Fighters Haunted House set. Spooky and run-down and riddled with the perfect amount of detail, all for the monsters to haunt. It has pride of place in my collection. 
     
  12. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
    My favourite LEGO element is the “cheese slope” – a 1x1x2/3 sloped piece. It is the perfect size to add detail to a model and smooth its appearance without having to reconfigure the whole thing too much. 

    I would love an inverted version that could be placed up underneath a model too. Hint, hint. 

  13. Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
    I am inspired by many LEGO designers and builders, some I know personally. Stormythos, Liam Tullett, Eamon Riley, Ryan McNaught.
    I also enjoy many from Instagram: rjbuttliere, harrisbricks, legotruman to name some stand-outs. 
     
  14. Is there one or more particular LEGO-related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by? 
    I love seeing what people have made on Instagram, and I am always amazed by what many people come up with. A wide array of interests and ideas come together to delight and inspire. 


     

ABOUT YOUR PROJECT

  1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
    As a kid, I received a barrier grid animation as a surprise with a confectionery. It was a simple repeating animation of a character printed on a card overlaid by a sliding piece of transparent plastic with a grill printed on it. You slid the plastic sideways and it animated the picture. I was fascinated by it and drew a few animations for it myself. Some were duds but I made a few successful ones as well. This was one of the many times in my life I was interested in animation. 

    Fast forward to last year and I was making images with Lego using just the side of the plates and realized all at once I could make one of these barrier grid animations in LEGO, using rail plates to act as the barrier. After a few small tests that worked, I designed a larger model and refined it. This is the Motograph model that I posted on Ideas. 

    The motograph name comes from a patent published in 1896 by W. Symons. A book of images with a transparency grid was published in 1898. The second edition included an illustration for the cover by renowned artist Henri Tolouse-Lautrec. I think “Motograph” is much snappier than “Barrier Grid Animation”. 

  2. 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?
    I did a little research on barrier grid animation online, looking at images and animations. The image was relatively simple to make as I already had figured out how to do it when I was younger. Translating it into LEGO took a little bit longer, but knowing that 5 plates sideways fit exactly into 2 wide bricks I was able to use a rail plate to hide all but 1 (and a bit) of the plates beneath running in the same direction. 
    Once I tried it out and it was successful, I got to work making a larger version that would showcase the animations well. Altogether it only took about a month and a bit from the initial spark of an idea to building the working model. 
     
  3. What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
    It took a while to figure out how to make the sliding frame not catch on the edges of the LEGO and slide freely. If you only work digitally and don’t actually try out the models you design you will come up against problems you didn’t know existed with real LEGO. 
    There is no gravity or physics acting on your digital models so they might not act like you think they will when made in real life. 
     
  4. 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? 
    It took just over a month to design and build it, which was fairly quick. It took over a year to gain the 10,000 votes and I would promote it on social media every now and then. If I had been more proactive in its promotion I like to think it would have made it faster. 
     
  5. How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take? 
    It was a great feeling to achieve that much support. Building up over a year it eventually got there, but when I realized it was actually going to happen I was very happy. The day it made it, I was at work and everyone was very happy for me. One of my workmates even gave me a last-minute vote which might have pushed it over the line! 
     
  6. Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model? 
    There are about 2920 bricks in this model. 
     
  7. What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
    It would have to be the sideways-built animation and studs out sliding frame. 
     
  8. If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
    For tests and structure, I used Bricklink Studio software to build it. I find it is an easy, fast, effective, and up-to-date building software that I use quite frequently.



     

ABOUT LEGO IDEAS

  1. Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
    Be original! Make something that you love, build it, test it, and refine it to the best model it can be, and then go for it! 
     
  2. What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
    I posted on social media and groups for fans of LEGO and animation. It’s good to try other groups outside if LEGO fandom as they can have many members that may not buy LEGO but would be interested in the subject of the build and so will vote for it. 
     
  3. What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
    I voted for and bought the Jazz Quartet because I thought it was a stylish and highly original piece. The miniature instruments look very cool and the characters are beautifully made. I love the piano and double base that come with that set. 
     
  4. What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
    I love seeing the originality, imagination, ingenuity, and talent on display through LEGO ideas. There are some beautiful and amazing projects out there, and every entry is something to behold, whether it gets the votes or not. Don’t be discouraged if your idea doesn’t make it. Try again! Or come up with something else that you know other people will love. Maybe see what reactions are like to it on social media before posting it on ideas. Listen to your feedback, whether positive or negative because either can be helpful, and make changes if needed. Try not to take negative feedback too personally. Improve your build, add details, and refine the model. Make it the best version of your idea you can. 
     
  5. 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?
    Yes, I do! I have some spooky builds coming up that I hope people will love!  
  • 10k club
  • 10k club interview
  • product idea
  • kongjirra
  • the motograph
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