LEGOmation is a form of stop-motion animation (where the action is filmed a frame at a time). LEGOmation deals with the development of stop-motion animation movies using LEGO - as props and characters. It is a good deal of fun, if:
You have a lot of patience.
You have nothing better to do.
You have a lot of time on your hands.
Once you are absolutely sure that you will not be embarrassed when people find out what you have spent all your weekend doing, you may proceed on to the development of LEGOmation short- and medium-length films. A good, well-developed and smooth five-minute production normally takes around five to seven hours of solid work to record. Once again, if you are not willing to put in a lot of time, then LEGOmation is not for you.
What is LEGO?
LEGO is a construction system designed for children. The main element of LEGO is the miniature building brick, usually brightly-coloured and with small raised studs on one or more sides so they can connect with other bricks without the use of a sealant. In the early 1970s, the LEGO company introduced LEGO people to their range - small, articulated figures that children can combine with their LEGO bricks to build inhabited houses or vehicles.
LEGOmation consists of a few very easy and simple steps. Following are the materials that you will need and the steps that you must take to produce these films. It is impossible to film LEGOmation without these necessary tools:
- A camcorder
- LEGO people
- A flat LEGO building board
That is it. Next, you will need to find yourself a good place to produce your movie. The spot needs to be quiet, secluded, and preferably not a major thoroughfare. A good place to start out is in a gameroom, basement, or even your own bedroom. Anywhere that you will not be interrupted and will not have to fight wars to keep people from walking by is a good spot. It is also a good idea to do it when few people are around, in order to avoid the many troubles listed above.
Now that you have set up a spot for recording, set up your LEGO people on the board. It is a good idea to start with one person until you get the basics of smooth movement down, and then to move on from there. Reading the camcorder manual before attempting the rest of this lesson is a wise choice, since you cannot record anything if you do not know how your camcorder operates at a basic level. If you have a remote, familiarise yourself with its buttons. Using a remote will save your films from shakiness, and will make them look better overall. Obtaining a tripod is also a good idea.
After performing these tasks, you may now begin your LEGOmation shoot. First, take a five-second shot of your scene for your first frame. This helps when you transfer all of this to VHS format, because then you do not have to pause at the exact starting frame. Then, move your character. Do not move it too much at the start; start out small with something like moving its arm up and then back down again. After you make your first move, take a quick snapshot with your camcorder. Do this over and over, changing the composition of your character(s) as you go, until you feel like you have got enough to call a short film. After you are done, shoot the last frame for five seconds, and rewind.
Whether your first screen-test turns out looking anything like a movie is, of course, your judgement. The best way to learn advanced techniques and ideas is to figure them out yourself, for then you will develop a truly unique style. Few viewers will actually be concerned with how accurate or good your movie is from a production standpoint, so do not be overly worried about little details such as minute movements in the board and other things. A few keys to a good LEGOmation film are:
A good plot. A good way to figure out a good plot is to write down things such as main characters, setting, or even an outline of the action.
Smooth movement and lighting.
Obtaining editing software may be key in order to create more advanced films which include sound. Sound is not easily done using simple LEGOmation, but with editing one would be able to dub it on later (which can be fun in itself). With the LEGO movie editing package, or the LEGO & Steven Spielberg MovieMaker Set, you can cut out scenes, create special effects, and add sound. The package includes a miniature filming set pre-devised, a big book of moviemaking tips, PC movie camera and movie editing software.
Have fun, be safe, Share and Enjoy.