When you watch installments of the Warner Bros. line of Lego movies, it’s hard not to be struck by how realistic the animation is. It isn’t quite traditional stop motion — but it sure looks as if it could be. That’s largely thanks to the work of the animators at Animal Logic, a Sydney-based visual effects studio that has worked on The Lego Movie, The Lego Batman Movie, and the upcoming The Lego Ninjago Movie. Powered by live action filming techniques and a close attention to detail, the studio has helped reinvent what Lego animations can look like. But they owe a lot of that aesthetic to the influence of fan films. Since the early 1970s, enthusiasts have made home movies with their own Lego sets. They’re called Brickfilms — and they’ve grown into a sizable community producing great movies and helping many young animators get their start. The Lego Movie animators learned from what made those home movies so good by embracing the limitations of the medium, and creating a world that anyone could could rebuild at home.