Many of you will no doubt recall the enigmatic animation that depicts a small Rahi and Lewa running about Le-Wahi. Dubbed the "Infected Lewa Animation" due to the worn appearance of the Toa's Kanohi, the animation has been identified as a test done by Miramax during their work on BIONICLE: Mask of Light. Why? Because another, less-known video was discovered, also depicting Lewa running through Le-Wahi. In this case, the animation was featured in an early trailer for Mask of Light.
It was logical enough to assume that both the animations were completed by Miramax. However, the wildly different animation style between these and the final movie made me want to look back over them carefully, and see if there was something we missed. As it turns out, there are quite a few things of note about both videos.
I went in to this expecting to find that neither animation was produced by Miramax, so you can imagine my surprise at seeing the above in the Mask of Light trailer animation. Take a close look at that tree, and then compare it to this screenshot from Mask of Light itself:
The textures on the trees are nearly identical. There is little doubt, then that this test animation was made by Miramax, despite the significant differences it has with the MoL.
With that out of the way, let's compare the two test animations:
When comparing these two screenshots, take note of the Technic bush just below Lewa's head. Have you spotted the difference? The one in the MoL trailer animation has gears on it, as opposed to the one in the Infected Lewa animation, which uses the standard piece.
This time, it's Lewa's arms. The Infected Lewa version is, again, true to the set, while the one in the trailer reuses Lewa's left arm on his right side. Also, the arms are significantly different shades of green.
What I am getting at here is that the Lewas in the respective animations are completely different models. This means it is highly improbable that the Infected Lewa Animation was made by Miramax. Why would they make two only slightly different models for the same character? What's more, Lewa is a character they would have known would not appear in the final movie. There is no reason for them to put work into minutely tweaking a model that they are just using for an early test.
This leaves us with several possibilities for the origin of the Infected Lewa Animation:
I. It is a fan animation
This theory seems the least likely. If one thing is certain, it is that the animation is very professional. Even if a fan had made it, would not they be sure to show it off, and make it clear who produced such a remarkable work? Instead, no one seems to know where the animation came from.
II. It was made by another company LEGO was considering to work on Mask of Light
There is considerable logic in this. However, it is important to note that the animation has a distinct 2001 style to it, not 2003. I have already mentioned the set-accurate Lewa, but the environment and fauna in the animation all evoke thoughts of Mata-Nui as we saw it in BIONICLE's first year, and not later.
III. It was a test animation made by Ghost and Advance
Since it feels like a 2001 animation, it makes sense to guess it was a test for a 2001 animation. But look:
Here we have a few screenshots comparing the Infected Lewa Animation to the final GCI Lewa animation by Advance and Ghost. We can see that there are distinct differences in the way the environments are created.
IV. This is a test animation for the cancelled BIONICLE movie
I daresay this is within the realm of possibility. Templar Studios informed us some time ago that LEGO did have plans for a 2001 film at some point. We have no idea how far they proceeded with the project, but there is some possibility they got as far as a test animation such as this.
Although it remains unclear what its origins truly are, I believe we can safely conclude that the Infected Lewa Animation has nothing to do with Mask of Light or Miramax.