Steveston SalmonFest 2021 Behind the Scenes – The Salmon BBQ

Hey there salmon lovers! Whenever there’s a festival of any kind, there’s always a small section of the attendees who are there just for the food. Can you blame them is that food is delicious BBQ’d salmon?

Sorry Sammy, but you do have to admit that salmon are an integral part of the ecosystem and feed a number of species, not just us. It’s always important to treat a food animal with respect, for giving up its life that another may eat. Consider that life, and make sure you waste as little as possible.

Salmon as a food have contributed greatly to the region. In addition to being delicious to eat, they are easy to prepare, are suitable for a massive variety of preparations and are rich in nutrition. The abundant presence of fish like salmon helped build modern communities like Steveston, not to mention our Indigenous communities, which have relied on fish for thousands of years.

Our future with food animals like salmon will require careful management, and significantly less consumption. We need salmon in our lives, regardless of whether or not we eat them, and so do many other animals.

Of course all of the salmon in our video are small toys. The BBQ set was built by Charlene Happy, and boy, did she ever nail it. The BBQ is simple and instantly recognizable. Charlene also voiced Sideline Reporter Stacy (with the microphone), and was the inspiration for Salmon Chef Martina.

While Charlene was the inspiration for the character, Martina was actually voiced by Andrew Wade.

We have a few familiar faces in the group. Our sushi chef is from the Lego Ninjago Minifig series (love that subtle prawn detailing on his jacket), and you can also see Michelangelo the TMNT and Wonder Woman, who is having some difficulties waiting for her salmon. I’m sure it smells amazing. I do love that one-toothed smile right behind our chefs!

Some fun stuff to point out in the above shot, for the easter egg hunters! The fig in the green plaid vest with the moustache is Charlene’s excellent take on Bob Belcher, of Bob’s Burgers. The minifig second from the right is wearing a shirt from the Lego Store’s pick-a-part bin, with a cool take on Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man on it. It’s nice to have a few nods to one of history’s greatest designers and builders. It’s likely some aspect of his creations inspired the people who designed Lego. We also have 4 head pieces that combine a hat with hair (or a bald head). Chef Martina, Wonder Woman, the Sushi Chef, and the far right minifig in the blue hat with the blonde ponytail. Pieces like this open up all sorts of potential for characterization. They also help Lego make more diverse characters, especially professional women.

If you look at the overhead view, you can see the actual BBQ area itself is fairly small. We set it in front of a background of trees and other foliage to make it seem bigger than it was. We tried using actual fish pieces for the salmon on the BBQs, but the little red blocks of various shapes looked better.

This little setup was very simple to film. We chose just a couple of shots, and really didn’t do much stop motion in them. What we did do was try and replicate the smoke and glow of a real BBQ. You can’t see them too well, but the BBQ is slightly elevated so we could have a couple of small LED lights under the two grills. We have some transparent red pieces there too, to help with the glow. It was pretty minimal in the video, as it was drowned out by our larger light fixtures. But I’m glad we tried it. There’s some potential there.

Here’s a clip that we shot for the smoke and heat shimmer. How’d we do it? We lit a candle, then blew it out right before we hit record, then put it in between the camera and the models. No actual flame was close to any model, and the candle was only lit for a few seconds. We also used a zoom lens, so that the smoke and the heat source was never close to the camera either. We do want to be clear, though:


Even a single candle or the match that lit it. Even with people standing by with extinguishers. It’s no joke. Using fire in professional productions requires someone with a pyrotechnics license. Here’s the Government of Canada’s web page on getting certified, if you’re interested in the process. Working in special effects can be a cool, rewarding and exciting career, and you can absolutely be the kind of person that makes it safer for everyone. Thanks for reading!

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