How to make a LEGO® brick stop-motion video
We love it when people use stop-motion animation to bring their LEGO® sets to life.
So, to celebrate the release of the new LEGO Ideas A-Frame Cabin – a delightful dwelling built in and around nature – we’ve created our own LEGO brick stop-motion animation.
This two-hour video features four customizable minifigures enjoying cabin life and the natural world that surrounds it. It’s calming and mindful, just like building a LEGO set, and, when you watch it, you’ll feel transported to the serenity of nature, far away from the stress of everyday life.
You might even feel inspired to make your own stop-motion film with LEGO bricks. To help you get started we asked Jon Rolph, the talented animator who created our video, to share his top tips on how to make a stop motion film.
Lights: keep it consistent
Stop motion works by taking a still image of a fixed model, then moving the model slightly and taking another image. When you put lots of these images together in a sequence, it gives the impression of motion. Basically, it’s a fun way to tell stories!
It sounds complicated, but it’s quite approachable, even if you’re just starting out.
“To begin animating, all you need is a camera, something to animate (in this case LEGO bricks) and a lamp,” says Jon.
The lamp might be a little unexpected, but Jon is keen to emphasize the importance of having a consistent light source.
“If you’re not controlling the light, then it will change and flicker in-between frames because you’re taking photos at different intervals. You need to use a lamp. Get this right, and you’re off to a great start!”
Camera: keep it steady
You don’t have to own professional equipment to get started as a beginner – Jon advises that you can also use a phone camera and there are some good free editing apps too.
But one rule is that whatever you use needs to be held perfectly still while you film.
“Basically, have it on a tripod,” says Jon, before reminding us that LEGO bricks are a handy way of solving the problem too. “You can build a nice holder for your camera. That’s a good way of keeping it still.”
Once your camera is stable, you have to decide where to put it...
Jon’s advice on finding what camera angles to use is to bring your camera level with the minifigures to make them seem more realistic.
“It can be an easy mistake when you’re filming with LEGO bricks to end up with a higher angle because they’re small,” says Jon. “But if you bring the camera down to the minifigures, you can make them look less toy-like and more like people. That way, you can engage more with an audience if you’re bringing the camera into the minifigures’ world, rather than looking down on their world.”
So, you’ve got your lighting set, and you’ve fixed your camera in place. Now, the big question is, what are you going to shoot?
Action: plan it out
Jon’s advice here is to plan it out as much as you can in advance. Stop motion can be time-consuming. In fact, Jon says that on a good day, he ends up with about 20 seconds of footage (so yeah, it takes time). The last thing you want is to spend all that time shooting a sequence only to realize that you have to start over.
“It’s good to storyboard first,” says Jon. “Before you begin animating, ask yourself what’s happening, who are the characters, and how am I telling the story?”
You can do this by drawing or by taking single photographs.
“Sometimes I’ll set up a camera and block out a shot, taking the key photos of where the minifigure is, to plan the action without animating the entire thing.”
The secret ingredient: patience
Stop-motion animation is a learning process, and, like a lot of learning, your best lessons might come through making mistakes. This is perfectly normal, so try not to get too disheartened if things don’t look the way you hoped they might.
“It can be frustrating at times, but you’ll always be improving and finding new ways of doing things,” says Jon.
We hope you enjoy our LEGO Ideas A-Frame Cabin and the video that goes with it, and perhaps you’ll even find yourself making your own stop-motion video. If you do, remember Jon’s three top tips: lights, camera, action!
Most importantly, have fun. Get practicing and see where your creativity takes you.
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