Getting Started in Lego Animation

dscf5067So you want to create your own Minifigure Movie? It can be a very rewarding, if a slightly long-winded process, but before your even start to animate, there will be a few things you are going need…

EQUIPMENT:
Camera – Be it a mobile phone, tablet, compact camera or high level DSLR, you will need something to capture your images. We currently use a iPhone 4S as a remote camera connected to an iPad2.

Movie/Stop Motion Software – Once you have a way of capturing your images, you will need a way of stringing them all together, be it a specialist piece of software like Stop Motion Studio or iStop Motion, or a more general piece of video editing software like iMovie, Final Cut or one of the many other editing softwares available. For a more concise list, check out or SOFTWARE page. Once you have found the right software for you, spend some time using it to learn the controls and abilities before jumping straight into a big animation. Once your animation is done, software that allows you to edit the final film and add music or dialogue is also very useful.

A Base Plate – Many animators will tell you not to use a Lego Base Plate as they find it constricts the movement of the minifigures, but, if you are just starting out, I would suggest you use one… It makes it easier to stand the minifigures up and allows you to easily measure their movement in each shot.

A Set – Where is your animation based in? Is it a Sci-Fi? A Romantic Comedy? A Fantasy setting? Try and build some creative settings for your minifigures to interact with and to give your animation some depth and feel. Lego is great for building sets for any genre of film, so take your time and get creative.

A Cast – Bring on the Minifigures! Your Minifigures are your actors, so take some time to build some really cool characters to animate.

Lighting – Never animate with natural light as it is not constant and causes flicker on your final animation. Work in a darkened room with the curtains fully closed, and either use your main room light or desktop lamps, torches, or whatever you can find to give you a constant, consistent light. Remember not to get in front of the light when taking your pictures. You can get creative with lighting and there are a lot of more detailed videos on lighting in our HOW TO… section.

Patience – Remember, Stop Motion Animation can be a long-winded and time consuming process that yields only seconds of final film footage, but stick at it, as the results are well worth the wait.

PLANNING
Have an idea of the scenes that you want to animate, it will make it a lot easier if you have an plan of what is going on in the scene rather than just jumping in and animating blind. Where are your minifigures moving to? Why are they moving there? What are they going to do when they get there? Most animators use Storyboards as a way of working out the shots in each scene and to help keep them on track. You can draw your own storyboards easily, detailing each shot as you go.

ANIMATION TECHNIQUES
So, you have everything you need, your camera is ready, your set is built and lit up nicely, your minifigures are ready and willing actors and your storyboard is worked out, so what is next? Well, you need to learn some basic techniques on how to animate, so below we will detail a few of those techniques, firstly the minifigure walk…

MINIFIGURE WALK: (click to enlarge)

Minifigure Walk Cycle.inddWe will be uploading a video of this walk cycle very soon!

This page will be regularly updated as we produce more content, but until then check some of the great HOW TO… videos here.

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