Lego Movies are a perfect union of art and play.
With the versatility of Lego, movies can be created by kids as young as four and by professionals with years of experience in the film industry.
Youtube is chock full of Lego movies, of all sorts of quality and the Lego company has also been busy creating commercials, web movies and more recently, DVDs and Blu Ray Lego films.
Lego Movies On DVD and Blu Ray
Lego produced it’s first full length movie in 2010, and has since produced more longer-form films to be released on DVD/Bu Ray. Like most movies, always watch these with your kids if you are concerned about the level of “violence/action”.
- Lego The Adventures of Clutch Powers
(Full Length animated movie features original Lego properties like City, Space and Castle themes).
- Lego Star Wars The Padawan Menace
(Written by Emmy Award winner Michael Price (The Simpsons) and produced by Oscar-winning Animal Logic (Happy Feet))
- Lego Ninjago Masters Of Spinjutzu
(A movie based on the Ninjago theme and originally shown on the Cartoon Network)
- Lego Hero Factory Rise Of the Rookies and Savage Planet
(Movies based on the Lego Hero Factory theme)
How Lego Movies Are Made
Lego Movies are generally made using two different methods.
Amateur Lego film producers mostly make movies using an animation technique known as stop-motion animation. Professional Lego film productions generally render Lego on computers and animate using 3D animation programs like Maya and Studio Max, similar to those used by top animation studios like Pixar.
Obviously quality varies in these productions but there have been some stunning creation using both these techniques.
Lego Movies – Stop Motion Animation
Stop motion animation is essentially the process of moving a figure in slow increments and taking a still photo after each move. Placing these photos together in a computer program and then playing them back at around 24 photos a second makes the figure seem to move across the screen naturally.
To begin, take a Lego minifigure and place it standing on a baseplate.
Set up a still camera on a stable surface and then begin to move your figure. Only make small movements, for example – move one leg slightly, taking a photo at each incremental move. Then do the same to the other leg, perhaps make some hand movements in the same way. Your Lego figure is walking.
By adding a background, the figure can move and interact against scenery. By introducing vehicles, other figures, lighting elements, speech bubbles, an audio track and many more variables the simplicity or complexity of the film can be regulated.
Once the images have been taken, you can import the images into a program like Windows Movie Maker (free with Microsoft Windows). Here you will have to make some changes to make the motion of the figure smooth.
1. Adjust the Picture rate to 0.125 second.
2. Drag your pictures into the timeline.
This will display the movie at 8 frames (individual images) per second.
A traditional film is 24 frames per second so the film will look a little stilted at this point.
3. By going into the effects section of Windows Movie Maker and right-clicking the Speed Up Double option and selecting Add To The Storyboard, you can bring that frame rate up to 16 frames per second.
This will make the frames move faster so they seem to flow into one another, just like traditional film and cartoon movies.
4. From here you can add an audio track or simply Export the film to an uploadable format.
Once the film is completed your child can share their movie with friends, either on computer or via the web. Sharing can lead to group film creation, script writing, model building and more.
Confused? Don’t be scared :0)
It’s actually easier than it all sounds and your child will most likely pick up the process more quickly than you will – My son made a few Lego Animation videos when he was 7 and I asked him how he did it in order to write this post! More famous examples of Lego Stop Motion animation include Rymdreglage 8 Bit Trip and The Fastest and Funniest LEGO Star Wars story ever told.
Lego movies are enjoyable for kids on either side of the camera – Lego stop motion animation is a great way to enhance a child’s love of building and creating while watching Lego movies can inspire kids to make their own models, stories or films.