Minecraft Stop Motion Movie Creator on Kindle Fire HD Review

dsc_0003The love of Brickfilming seems to be growing in our house. I try to involve the kids in the animations as much as I can, and they have joined me in building sets, designing minifigures, voice over work, acting and animating during the time we have been making Brick Films… But recently Morgan downloaded the Minecraft Stop Motion Movie Creator onto his Kindle Fire HD and decided to try making his own animations independently of me…

He sat for a good couple of hours making various test animations and working out the best way to use the software, move the minifigures around and add the music and titles to his films. The software seemed quite intuitive to him, and the tutorial slideshow that was part of the App was easy for him to understand and gave him a good beginners insight into the Apps functions as well as the basics of stop motion animation. Like most stop motion software, you can take pictures from within the app, and it strings them all together on the timeline, allowing you to change the frame rate from 1 to 30fps and has the option to delete frames that are wrong or you want to change. The editing options include basic colour control of the frames (Brightness, Contrast, Hue, Saturation), the option to extend the length of individual frames, a text editor and the ability to add and record sound fx, which for an App that is FREE to download, I didn’t really expect that much. One of Morgan’s biggest problems was camera wobble, as his Kindle is in a case which has a stand on it, but isn’t that stable. Every time he touched the screen the Kindle would move slightly and that camera shake was evident in his animations, so we resolved this by using the Apps handy 3 second timer function which was enough time for the Kindle to settle before the picture was taken. By using this, Morgan saw a great improvement in his final movies.

Once you have finished your animations, the Minecraft Stop Motion software has some Minecraft themed title screens, fonts, and colour choices so you can add titles and outro credits to your movie, plus 9 video effects like Pixellated, Vivid and Underwater to change the look and style of your video. Lastly you can choose from one of 11 Minecraft theme pieces of music to play under your movie, which can then be rendered and exported to the in-app Gallery at 720HD. I managed to get the animation off of the Kindle via it’s USB cable and onto my iMac as a .webm file, which I had never heard of before. I managed to convert that in Handbrake to an MP4 which was usable for YouTube.

Unfortunately, there were a couple of downsides to animating with the Kindle. Firstly the camera on the Kindle is only 2MP, so image quality isn’t that great and the video ends up slightly pixellated and noisy. Secondly there doesn’t seem to be a way of adjusting the camera focus from within the Minecraft Stop Motion App, meaning that you always have to keep the camera at a set distance. But again, this is a FREE app, aimed at kids on a tablet that costs £50 from Amazon, so I suppose you can’t expect too much!

Overall Morgan had a lot of fun using the App and it allowed him to express himself creatively as well as learning to do things for himself. Although being a great starting point for him, he has expressed an interest in trying to find a better Stop Motion app for the Kindle, so we are, of course, going to have a look for that, and probably do another blog once he has had a chance to use it. But, for a simple, fun and creative step into Stop Motion animation, the Minecraft Stop Motion Movie Creator is a good start, but it won’t be long until you find yourself wanting for something a bit better!

Check out one of Morgan’s quick Kindle test animations below:

Until next time, keep animating,

Ian & Morgan

Lego Star Wars, The Clone Awakens…

Like many many people, our household is full of Star Wars fans, with myself being a fan since I was a kid all those many years ago… When they announced that they were making The Force Awakens, we watched all the trailers eagerly and kept up with all of the fan theories that were speculated on way before the films actual release… One of our favourite fan theories was that Kylo Ren was collecting Darth Vader’s possessions in an attempt to clone him. We wondered exactly how that would work, so we decided to do an animation in Lego to show just how that might go, with some comedic effect!

The whole film, as usual is filmed in Stop Motion Studio on an iPad2, using an iPhone 4S as a remote camera. This was also one of our first attempts at using green screen techniques, which I am quite pleased with, although I know that with a bit more patience and practice we can get that looking better… Lego plastic is a very reflective material, so overspill from the green screen onto the characters and set’s was very difficult to overcome, and this is something we need to think about in future green screen work.

All of the green screening and editing was done on an iMac in Final Cut Express, and sound FX, music and dialogue were added in Garageband. The music was a collection of loops and jingles that come in the Apple Jam Packs which I strung together, and actually work quite well I think… At least it stops Disney and John Williams from trying to sue me for using the official Star Wars theme…

Some of the cool lighting was with LED’s purchased from Firestartoys.com and they are the same lights we used on the stage set in The Devil Made Me by Paul Miro. The light set actually comes from a company in Holland called www.brickled.nl and they provide some great stuff from light bricks through to street lamps, all of which are Lego compatible.

One of my favourite scene in this animation was Kylo Ren exiting the shuttle… It is a brief scene, but to get a good distance shot and figures that matched the smaller size spaceship we built, I decided to use micro figures from the Lego Star Wars Battle Of Hoth board game… Kylo Ren was actually Darth Vader, but with his back to you its hard to notice and the Stormtroopers were just Snowtroopers from the game… Over all I think the scene worked really well, even if those little figures don’t really animate well…

We hope you enjoy our latest offering and would love to hear some of your comments either here or on YouTube…

Keep animating,

Ian Husbands

Lego Bob’s Holiday Adventure!

LegoBobSunset2

So this year we took a family break for a few nights at Pontin’s in Brean Sands, Somerset and we decided that it wouldn’t be a proper family break without at least one Lego minifigure joining us… So we made Bob, and his sole purpose was to help us record our holiday in a series of photos! It was a lot of fun to do, and the whole family got involved, making sure that Bob was included in our activities whilst away and looking after his every need! He came out on a trip to Wookey Hole Caves, played board games with us, joined us at meal times and even got himself a tan on the beach…

Below is a quick photo slideshow of Bob’s holiday… Enjoy!

 

Featured Animator Sergio Marques Dias

SergioMarquesDiasName: Sergio Marques Dias
Location: Differdange, Luxembourg

Q1) How long have you been animating?
1 year

Q2) How did you start making stop-frame animations?
First stop motion I did, was the video invite to my wedding. We posed, took a picture, took another picture and so on…

Q3) Why have you chosen Lego® and other brick products as your main medium to work in?
I’ve always loved Lego, and I had a few in the basement, so I decided to give it a try. I love animating with Lego because you can touch on sensitive topics, but with humor.

Q4) What is your setup like? Which camera and software do you use to make your movies?
I use a Nikon D7100, my first DSLR, with the basic lens 18-105mm. I use mostly Adobe Premiere.

Q5) On average, how many hours does it take to create your animations?
Ooohhhhh… Well depends on the animation. The brickfilm “The Engineer” took me 3 weeks, it was my first try at brickfilming. “The Parking Spot” took me 2 weeks. The problem is that everytime I do an animation video, I try to incorporate new movements or techniques that I never used.

Q6) Do you have a favourite mini-figure to animate, and what makes them so special?
Hahaha! My Mini-Me and my wife’s Mini-Her. He is, and will be in every of my future Brickfilms. Why it’s so special? Because they were a gift of my best friend for my wedding, and they sat on top of my wedding cake.

Q7) What can we look forward to in the near future from you?
Trick question. I don’t know, I go day-by-day, and when I have an idea, I write it down and hope to have time to realize it.

Q8) Where can people go for more information or to view your animations?
On my Youtube chanel → https://www.youtube.com/user/SergioMarquesDias and on my twitter account → https://twitter.com/SergioDiasLUX

Q9) What one piece of advice do you have for people wanting to start in stop-frame animating?
Don’t start right away, read a book or two about stop-motion for beginners. And afterwards, go for it. Don’t isten to people telling you it’s hard. Take critics well, most of them can take your animations to another level. You don’t have the material? Of course you have. Take your smartphone, a lamp, a figurine, and start taking pictures. Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do it.

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