A block by Kennedy Meeks and a dunk from Justin Jackson sealed the national championship for the North Carolina Tar Heels, and now that moment has forever been immortalized in Lego.
Jared Jacobs never dreamed he’d quit his day job to make stop-motion films with Lego. But that’s exactly what he did after his films of March Madness moments, golf, football and other sports have gotten worldwide attention on social media.
Jacobs, 38, of Boise, Idaho, has been making stop-motion films using Lego for about four years. He said it started out as a hobby, but he recently quit his marketing job to do the films full time.
The videos are stop-motion animations made from a series of 130 to 250 still photos.
Depending on what the set is – football, hockey, basketball or something else entirely – it can take about an hour per second of video for Jacobs to make the magic happen.
He said the UNC win video – which is about 25 seconds – took him around 40 hours to complete. Nearly 20 of those hours go to filming.
Jacobs is a big North Carolina fan, he said, even though he didn’t go to school at UNC and hasn’t ever lived in the state.
“I guess I just like winners,” he said, laughing. He made a video of the Tar Heels’ loss to Villanova last year for his daughter, 11-year-old Jobie, a Villanova fan.
“That was a tough one for me because I’m a North Carolina fan,” he said. “But seeing how happy she was made it worth it.”
His family fills out brackets each year, including son Anson, 5, daughter Oakley, 9, and his wife, Audie.
“It’s something we can do as a family,” Jacobs said. “The winner gets to choose the place we go celebrate.”
It was the video of North Carolina’s defeat that caught UNC’s attention, and the university asked him to work on something for the team this year. But because Jacobs is working on projects for the Golf Channel and other sports organizations and networks, he almost said no.
“But I’m glad I made the time,” he said. “The pieces all came together.”
Stop-motion film is something Jacobs says has always spoken to him. When he started, he said, he was terrible at it.
“But I taught myself tricks for how to get better,” he said.
Jacobs says he didn’t grow up a “Lego kid.” But he saw a few videos, and soon it became a passion.
One of the first videos he made was in his mother-in-law’s basement at Thanksgiving.
“It’s a great medium for stop-animation videos and something that stuck with me,” he said. “I saw a video of the World Cup recreated in Lego from back 8 or 9 years ago, and it was really cool to me. I thought I’d like to do that one day. I didn’t know it would take off.”
Jacobs originally started recreating scenes from the hit TV show “Breaking Bad” and caught the attention of one of the actors – Daniel Moncada, who plays one of the twin Salamanca hitmen and started sharing Jacobs’ videos.
“I kind of got a cult following after that,” Jacobs said.
And he didn’t even really own his own Lego.
“I would borrow them from the kid across the street,” he said. “This 10-year-old kid would let me come in and rifle through and borrow what I needed.”
Now he has a budget for Lego through his work with different companies and myriad tools at his disposal, he said.
More than a year ago, Jacobs turned his attention to sports and made a Tiger Woods video he said “went pretty viral.” Since then he’s gotten more deals for partnerships, been interviewed by media around the world, including Sports Center, and made his hobby into a full-time gig.
‘The little details’
Each of Jacobs’ Lego figures has its own personality – from the hairstyles and uniforms of his basketball players to the facial expressions they make as they play.
“Having those little expressions really makes a difference,” Jacobs said. “Those little details are really important to me.”
And because he’s now paid to make the videos through brand deals and partnerships, Jacobs said he has a big inventory of pieces so he can “really zone in on a hairstyle or a certain face” to make his creations come to life and resemble the people they’re modeled after.
The most complicated sets Jacobs said he’s worked on are football.
“I got a little over my head on my first few, and it was a quick sink-or-swim moment when I was thrown into the big pool,” he said. “Football takes even longer because you’ve got 22 people on the field you’re trying to orchestrate like a symphony.”
Jacobs isn’t sure how long making the videos full time will last, but he said he had to take a chance.
“I don’t know that I would advise many people to quit their day job and just go for it,” he said. “But if it’s something you really love doing... I had to grind for four years before I could really make the leap. I’m really happy doing it now for however long it lasts.”
But Jacobs still hasn’t told his parents he quit his job.
“I’m a little nervous, I’m not going to lie,” he said, laughing. “But I think they’ll be supportive.”
To see more of Jacobs’ films, go to: www.instagram.com/goldyeller.
Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768; @AbbieRBennett