So last week we posted a very short Lego Batman animation that we made using the new Lego Batman Movie Maker set. This week we are going to take a more in-depth look at the set and let you know our thoughts on it.
Lego Batman was huge at the cinemas and after the success of The Lego Movie, there really was no surprise that it was going to do well. Batman is a massive DC Comics franchise on its own, so when combined with peoples love of the iconic bricks and minifigures, it is no wonder that Lego have produced a large new range of Lego Batman toys to go alongside the movie. One of the sets in this range particularly caught our eye for how different it was from the other sets and how appropriate it was to what we do here at minifiguremotion.com – stop motion animation.
The Lego Batman Movie Maker set is aimed at people who want to make stop motion animations with their smartphones, and consists of a stage, a double sided print cardboard backdrop of Gotham and the Bat Cave and a camera rig which consists of a cradle that can hold your smartphone that can tilt, pivot and pan, allowing you to add some cool camera movements to your animations.
The set consists of 152 parts, a lot of which are the Lego technic style bits, which allow for the camera movements. The build is pretty simple, as you can see in the speed build video, but there were a few little tricky bits getting the moving parts together. The stage is very basic, but includes two 45 degree angle plates, which allow the backdrop to wrap around slightly at each end. The backdrop is held onto the stage by small block areas on the stage that have small blue axels protruding from the back of them that match up neatly with the 3 holes in the bottom of the backdrop. Simply choose which side of the backdrop you want to use, push the blue axels through the holes and secure it with 3 yellow spacers and you actually have quite a solid film set.
But it is the camera rig that really makes this set worth having…
Your smartphone sits in a cradle that is adjustable, so should fit almost any standard size phone that you are using. We have used it with an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and iPod Touch and they all fit well with hardly any camera wobble. The phone is secured by three rubber joints which can be pushed up/down to hold the phone firmly and because they are rubber rather than the standard Lego plastic, there should be no scratching to your phone either.
I currently use a camera rig made of of some old vintage Lego skis and a few technic bits to hold the camera tight, and it has done me proud for a few years now, but, the shots it allows me are limited to either left or right pan, or zoom in/out. The camera rig in the Lego Batman set however offers much more choice.
To start with, there is a very limited zoom in/out ability, which quite simply allows you move the camera back or forth down a lego baseplate… this requires moving the whole rig up off the studs and manually repositioning it, so doesn’t make for a very smooth zoom on camera. But, still it does allow you to set up different shots at different camera lengths, if a little limited in scope.
Panning left or right compared to zooming is very smooth, mainly because the camera cradle is fixed into a slotted carrier which allows for very gentle movements with almost no friction to worry about. The distance you can move left or right it quite limited, about 6cm, but this is easily changed just by finding some more parts from your Lego box and extending the length of the carrier.
In the photos you will see a wheel on the front of the camera rig, and this controls the tilt of the camera cradle, which is probably the largest movement that the rig allows, with an arc of about 160 degrees to move the camera through, allowing the camera to look up into the ‘sky’ or down to the floor. We used this effect in the Batercise test animation we filmed.
Lastly is the ability to be able to pivot the camera, around a central point that fixes to the stage with a socket and ball joint. This allows to you to turn the camera through that central point with about a 70 degree arc to move around. This is great for tracking shots, maybe as a car drives past, or a mini figure walks by. The movement isn’t as smooth as the panning or tilting, but it still is very effective if used carefully.
The set also comes with the one and only Lego Batman mini figure and a whole host of accessories including a Batarang and Grapple gun. There are some very limited instructions on setting up and stop motion animation, but I would have liked to have seen something a little more comprehensive for the total beginners. That said it is great to see Lego producing sets like this, which promote creativity and other skills that can be learnt with their products.
For £15.99 from Lego.com this set is a fantastic addition for beginners and more advanced Brickfilmers and I for one will be keeping the camera rig built for use in other animations.
Check out last wells animation below!
We hope you found this review helpful and hope you visit back soon!