Quick Reference Guide for Making a LEGO Stop Motion Video

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Did your 4th or 5th grader attend our LEGO Stop Motion summer camp? If your child still has questions about class content, tutor Brianna B. has answers! Check out her guide to successfully creating a stop motion video:

Necessary items for a professional stop motion video

1. Base plate  

If you’re using LEGOs, set up a base plate on the flat surface where you’re filming. This will enable your LEGO characters to remain standing even when you aren’t holding them in place. Make sure the base plate is taped down. If it isn’t taped down, then the base plate will move around, causing excess motion throughout your video that will make it look unrealistic. If you aren’t using LEGOs, make sure the area you’re filming in is flat.

2. Light source

Don’t film outside. Doing so causes inconsistent lighting, from the clouds covering the sun to the shadow of a bird passing overhead. Instead, film inside with two light sources directed at your filming area. (Lamps are great for this.) Don’t have an overhead fan on, as this will create a flicker in the video. Also make sure you aren’t casting a shadow onto your video set.

3. Camera

Your camera shouldn’t move while you’re creating your stop motion video—move it to a new position only when you want to move to a different shot. Never have someone else hold the camera for you as you adjust your characters. Instead, use a tripod or an iPhone or Android holder that won’t move at all.

How to ease in and out

“Ease in” and “ease out” are techniques that will make moving objects appear more realistic—for example, if you want a car to look like it’s stopping and then starting up again. When the car is moving fast, move the camera a bit more than you usually would in between pictures. This will make it appear to be moving quickly. When you’re approaching the place where you want your car to stop, start moving the car a smaller amount and take more pictures. Increase this until you have reached the point where the car is stopped. This will make it look like the car is slowing down because there are more pictures taken with smaller movements between each.

Take lots of pictures with the car in place, as it is stopped. To make it look like the car is starting off again, just reverse the process. Start off with small movements and take lots of pictures. Then gradually increase the amount you’re moving the car in between pictures and ta da! Your car looks like it’s speeding up and slowing down smoothly.

How to make a stop motion video look less choppy

Making a LEGO stop motion video look less choppy is actually easier than it sounds! If you haven’t already done so, download the app Stop Motion Studio. 

One solution is to take more pictures (or frames) of the character action. Move the characters and objects only a little bit at a time. It will seem like the movement is too small, but when you play it back, it will look much more fluid. When you take multiple pictures of an object moving, you don’t have large spaces where the object moves over a ton of space and looks unrealistic. Small movements and more pictures will get you to what you want.

Another thing to keep in mind when you’re creating a project is that you want to make sure that your frame rate setting is correct. Go to the app, and once you take your pictures (or frames), hit the back arrow and you’ll be taken to the screen where you can see all of the frames you took. You can then play back your movie so far. Click on the icon that looks like a gear in the bottom left corner of the screen and then tap on the icon that looks like a speedometer to set the movie speed. Scroll all the way up to 12 frames per second. Now your movie will look smooth and realistic.

How to make LEGO Friends walk

LEGO Friends are different from regular LEGOs because their legs can’t be separated. But what if you still want them to look like they’re walking? It’s possible with a little stop motion magic! Start with your LEGO Friend character facing straight, so that one side is not more in front of the other. Take a picture. Then, slightly angle your character so that the right leg side is a little bit more in front than the left side. Then angle it a bit more—take a picture—then a bit more—take a picture. Then do the same with the left side. Then repeat over and over until your LEGO Friend is where they need to be. Play it back, and watch your movie come together!

How to make a LEGO character sit up and down

There’s a trick to this. Remember, with every single movement you make, take a picture. Let’s start with a LEGO character who’s sitting down. Then, move the feet so that the feet are attached to the baseplate. This will seem like a massive movement, but we can make it look much smoother. Instead of having your LEGO person immediately stand up, angle the LEGO back so that they are angled towards the chair. Then, taking a picture with every movement, slowly move the body of the LEGO back up until the body is in line with the legs again. When you play it back, even though the legs move to a standing position quickly, the smooth movement of the body will cover for that. If you want to have your LEGO character sit down, reverse this process.

How to make characters talk in iMovie

To follow these instructions, you will need an Apple product that has access to the editing software iMovie. If you don’t have a microphone, you can always use the built in microphone that comes in an iPad or laptop.

Move the line (cursor) that is in the main timeline over to the place where you want your dialogue to start. Once your cursor is in place, go over to the right side of the screen and click on the icon that looks like a little microphone (to the left of the play button). Once you click on that, there will be a red button that pops up underneath the display box. Click on that red button, and there will be a countdown. After that countdown reaches one, record the dialogue you want! Once you’re done, click the red square and the audio recording will save as a purple rectangle above your video.

How to transform the sound of dialogue in iMovie

Once you have your dialogue recorded, you can add effects to it to make characters sound different from each other. Click on the purple audio rectangle you want to add effects to. This will create a yellow outline around that audio rectangle, which means it is selected. Once it’s selected, go up to the row of icons on the top right corner of the screen and click on the icon with three intersecting circles. Next, click on “None” next to the words “Audio Effect.” A box will come up with different audio effect options like Robot, Cosmic, Echo Delay, Pitch Up, Pitch Down, etc. Click the one you want, then play back the audio to see if you like it. You can always take the audio effect away by selecting “None.”