Are you wondering how to make a LEGO animation? Do you want to make your LEGO minifigs come to life in your very own LEGO movie? Well stay tuned and I’ll take you through the entire Stop Motion process.
That’s right LEGO Animation is done through a process called Stop Motion Animation.
What is Stop Motion Animation?
Stop Motion animation is where you take a single photo, move the character a little and then take another photo in the new position. Then you repeat this process until you’ve finished your scene.
You might then reposition the camera and movie set and start shooting another scene.
When you’ve completed shooting all your scenes, you move into the editing process.
The way stop motion animation works, is you stitch all the images together and then play them at a particular frame rate.
Normally this is 15 frames per second or 24 frames per second if you want smoother action.
So 15 frames per second means you need to take 15 photos for every second of your final movie. Wow!
And when these photos are viewed one after another very quickly, it gives the appearance that the LEGO Characters are actually animated.
How To Make A LEGO Animation?
There a few simple steps for making a LEGO Animation.
1. Write the Script
All good LEGO Animations start from a solid storyline.
Usually just having an idea isn’t good enough to get started on your LEGO Animation, as the length of time you’ll be taking photos requires you to have some structure.
Just like in the movies, you might build a script, or at the very least create some storyboards that you can refer to when animating.
Being prepared before you start creating your LEGO Animation means, interruptions won’t impact the continuity of your story.
2. Build the Background
Now you know the story, you’ll need to create a few sets or backgrounds that your characters can with interact with.
The most simple background to use is a few large LEGO Baseplates and of course, you’ll want one or two baseplates for the ground.
NB: It’s much easier to shoot your LEGO Animation on a LEGO baseplate as it’ll help with positioning and movement of your LEGO Character.
And if you want to make a realistic movie set, you can build and use existing LEGO sets as these usually have plenty of detail and will add realism to your movie. For instance the LEGO City theme is perfect for building cityscapes.
3. Choose Your Characters
Next is the hard part. Trying to choose which LEGO mini-figs will star in your production.
Just like real actors you’ll want to choose one’s that are instantly recognisable.
And I usually like to find accessories for them, and will often select a number of LEGO heads that can be swapped out to provide realistic expressions on the actors faces.
Just remember, the more characters you have in a scene, the more movements you’ll need to make per photo. Think 15x.
4. Start Shooting
Now you’re ready to start shooting your BrickFlick.
You can use any camera you have, but you’ll need to turn off the autofocus, as this could create unwanted movements in your shot.
If you’re just starting out, you can use the LEGO Movie Maker App which utilizes your Smartphone camera and also has editing software built in.
However, if you want a more professional product, you might use a webcam or better still a DSLR camera with a separate zoom lens.
The trick to producing a great brickflick is to make sure you don’t move the camera or movie set between shots.
A tripod is great for stabilising your camera and some double sided tape is perfect for keeping your baseplates steady.
Now, setup you scene and take your first photo.
Next, slightly move the character and take another photo.
Keep repeating these steps until you’ve completed a whole scene.
It could take some time, especially if you’ve planned a long movie.
Pro Tip: If you’re new to LEGO animation, only take 30 or so photos and then move onto editing so you can correct any mistakes before committing too much time.
Once, you’ve finished shooting your scenes, you’re ready for editing.
If the shooting step, went smoothly your editing might not take too long. But if you had a few set movements or character positioning problems then you might need to step through each frame to ensure the movie runs smoothly.
If you’re using the LEGO Movie Maker App, your editing will be limited anyway.
Here’s a list of other Stop Motion Animation Software you can try.
You’ll also want to add sound effects and a voice over to make your LEGO Animation come to life. During the Editing is where you’ll do this.
Here’s a place you’ll find a list of Royalty Free Music and Sound effects.
Tip: Remember to set the speed to 15 frames per second to get a nice flowing movie.
6. Produce Your BrickFlick
Once you’ve sorted out the photos and have added music, sound effects and a voice over you are ready to produce your movie.
Go ahead and click the ‘Produce’ button to see what your movie looks like.
Compiling videos could take some time, due to the amount of images and sound bites that need compiling, so just be patient.
Ideally, you want to export your movie in 720p as a minimum or 1080p if you really want a top-notch production.
A lower resolution will only be good for viewing on a phone or tablet screen.
So there you have it. A quick guide teaching you how to make a LEGO Animation. Of course, there’s a lot more to learn, but these basic steps should at least get you started on your LEGO Animation journey.
Good luck and never stop learning.