By stringing together individually photographed frames, stop-motion animation brick films create the illusion that toys like LEGO or Mega Bloks are moving on their own. Here's how to make one.
Step 1: Write a script Write a script for your film. Consider what blocks and figures, known as minifigs, you have and your familiarity with filming techniques to help you decide how complex to make your screenplay.
Step 2: Pick a frame rate Choose a frame rate for your film -- calculated in frames per second, or FPS. A higher FPS means more work moving each brick piece to establish continuity between many shots, but leads to a smoother final product.
TIP: Since many live-action films are shot at 24 FPS, consider using a frame rate of 24 or one of its divisors, such as 6 or 12.
Step 3: Set the timing Plan your animation. Use a storyboard to map out the camera angle and design of each scene. Write out an exposure sheet, too -- this list details the composition of each individual picture you take and how the frame will fit into the finished film.
Step 4: Design the set Assemble a minifig cast and build brick sets and props. Then, place lights around the set. Experiment with different angles, wattages, and gels to create the right mood and visibility for each moment.
Step 5: Shoot the film Shoot the film. Use a tripod and cable release to stabilize the camera as you take still pictures. Adjust and lock in the plastic objects in each frame with your fingers or tweezers; secure loose pieces with adhesive putty. Mount the tripod on a dolly and secure it to a track to stabilize the camera for mobile filming.
TIP: You can also shoot with a webcam or video camera connected to a computer with stop-motion animation software.
Step 6: Edit the film Load your pictures onto a computer and use video-editing software to adjust the film's pacing and create smooth transitions between scenes. Then, use a microphone and software to add music, voice-over, and sound effects to your movie.
Step 7: Add effects Use compositing software to create special effects and crop unnecessary elements. Then, do a final edit and add credits before premiering your masterpiece.
FACT: As of 2010, the 1964 stop-motion animation film Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is the longest-running televised holiday special.