What is Stop Frame Animation?
Stop motion or stop frame animation is a technique that manipulates a physical object, making it appear to move on its own. Moving the object in small increments between individually photographed frames, creates an illusion of movement when the series of frames are played as a continuous sequence. Lego Minifigures, dolls, action figures with movable joints or clay/plasticine figures are often used in stop motion for their ease of repositioning. Stop motion animation using plasticine is called clay animation or “clay-mation” and stop motion animations using Lego Bricks have become known as Legomations or Brick Films. Not all stop frame animations require figures or models with many films involving humans, household appliances and other objects for comedic effect.
A Brickfilm or Legomation is an animation made using LEGO bricks, or other similar plastic construction brands like Megabloks. The term ‘brickfilm’ was coined by Jason Rowoldt, founder of Brickfilms.com
Most seasoned Lego animators prefer to use dedicated stop motion software, such as Cateaters Stop Motion Studio, Boinx Softwares iStop Motion or the pro studio Dragon Frame. For a full list of software, you can CHECK HERE. Before the final film is edited, the separate images themselves can be altered to create special effects on a frame-by-frame basis. Editing can be undertaken with almost any digital video program, including iMovie or Final Cut. Afterwards, other software such as Adobe After Effects may be used to add visual effects (VFX) and a video editor can be used to link together the stop motion clips and for adding a soundtrack.
What is Frame Rate? (Frames per second)
The human visual system (eyes and brain interface), can process 10 to 12 separate images per second, perceiving them individually. At speeds of over 12 fps, with a persistence of vision, an illusion of continuity is created, allowing a sequence of still frames to give the impression of motion.
Early silent films had stated frame rates anywhere from 16 to 24 FPS, but since the cameras were hand-cranked, the rate often changed during the scene to fit the mood. These frame rates were enough for the sense of motion, but it was perceived as jerky motion. In the mid to late 1920s, the frame rate for silent films increased to between 20 and 26 FPS.
In 1926 when sound film was introduced, variations in frame rate were no longer acceptable due to the human ear being more sensitive to changes in audio frequency. Many theaters had shown silent films at 22 to 26 FPS which is why 24 FPS was chosen for sound. As various studios updated film equipment, the rate of 24 FPS became standard for 35 mm sound film, somewhere around 1930.
Modern brickfilms are shot with digital still cameras (generally using webcams, DSLRs or camcorders with still image capability). The standard framerate (fps) for a brickfilm is 15 FPS, a compromise between minimum production time and smoothest motion. There is also a standard 4-frame minifigure walk cycle for this framerate. A skilled brickfilmer can use only 12 FPS to good effect, but lower framerates are considered amateurish.