Mission

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The rules for Brickfilms are not hard and fast and techniques and ideas change frequently. The mission of this website is to serve as a platform for all Brickfilm makers, beginners to experts. It is not only our goal to provide information on the production and technical aspects of Brickfilms, but to create excitement about Brickfilming. With all the information on this site, all you need is to bring your imagination.

Getting Started

  • Posted by SidBrick
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Brickfilms have increased in popularity and there are many degrees of Brickfilm creators out. You may be picking up Brickfilms as a hobby. Or maybe you are looking to make a career out of animating or trying to get a movie entered into a festival. Either way there are a couple things to remember. Stop motion takes patience… lots of patience. An example of this is Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. The entire production took nearly 52 weeks. Each week they only got two minutes of stop motion footage. For most, this challenge adds to the fun.

Something else to keep in mind is that no matter how big or small your project, you are creating a movie set. In stop motion you get to play God. You create the set, the characters, the story, the movement, and everything else. Take time to develop your story and not rush into the production. By following a few simple steps, your stop motion film will be that much easier to capture, and turn out better in the end. Most important, have fun. For most, stop motion is a great hobby and should be something that you love to do.

Lights

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Entire books have been devoted to lighting and many professionals have spent their entire lives perfecting the craft. However, with knowledge of the basics, you will be able to create quality videos. For a professional looking video, lighting makes all the difference. Natural light is not an option for any type of animation as it will change throughout the day and affect your image. It is important to look at your set as any director would look at a movie set. You need to control every variable. Therefore, for best results find a room with no windows. If this isn’t possible, it works great to cover your windows with paper or blankets.

When choosing lighting equipment, there are many options. The best way to start is to use desk lamps with day light bulbs. Position the lights on the set so that there are no shadows on you Lego set. When you have the correct positioning do not touch the lights. For best results, plug the lights into a power strip so you can control the power switches without having to touch the lamps.

When working with Lego, or any plastic material, it is important to remember that too much light will reflect off of the material causing “blowouts.” A blowout is a harsh white reflection that you will find in your captured material. One option to prevent blowouts is to put a diffuser over the lights. Though you can buy diffusers or gels, wax paper is a great cheap alternative. Just remember when securing the paper over the lights that it does not touch the bulb.

Something else to take into consideration when you have your lights set up, is where you stand when you take the picture. It is important that you choose a position where you will not cause a shadow in the picture. Also, try not to where a white shirt. Light can reflect off the shirt and alter the appearance of your captured footage.

Though a couple desk lamps correctly positioned works well, you can also purchase more elaborate light kits. There are many techniques for lighting, but the most important things to remember are to eliminate shadows and reflections. Take your time. Like all aspects of Brickfilms, it is the small details that make your final video that much better.

http://www.3drender.com/light/3point.html

Lenses

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Lenses

As most know, there is a huge price difference between professional and consumer cameras. Most of this difference is attributable to the quality of the lens. The quality of an image is directly related to the quality of the lens. With this in mind, go for the highest quality lens you can afford.

Before going into too much detail, a discussion about lenses may not matter to some Brickfilm makers. However, if not only for the sake of learning, it is important to learn about them as they will be what you use in the future if you decide to make a career in stop motion animation.

Basic digital cameras and point-and-shoot still cameras have their own zoom lens already built in. This works automatically and has no manual control. Also important to check is whether the camera you have is optical zoom or digital zoom. A digital zoom only enlarges the picture which reduces the quality. It is still possible to use these cameras, but important that you try not to zoom in too much as you will have lower picture quality. If the picture quality is less in some frames, the animation will look choppy in your final movie.

When talking about specific lenses, there are two types that offer different benefits. A zoom lens will allow you to get any shot you will need, but the overall image quality will be less. Also, a zoom lens will not work as well in darker conditions, though this shouldn’t be a problem if you are properly lighting your scene. A prime lens will have better quality and will also work better in low light conditions. Prime lenses also work better for stop motion because of their quality in shallower depths of field.

As camera technology changes, there have been many additions made so that lenses can adapt to the new cameras. However, there have been changes in lenses that do not work well with stop motion. It is important to make sure that your lens has a manual iris. Newer DSLR come with lenses that have automatic irises. An automatic iris will cause changes while you are capturing your footage.

Camera

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So it is time to choose a camera. If you are like most people starting off, you will probably work with whatever is already around— or maybe it is what your parents have. Not long ago, most people would have said to never use a webcam for stop motion animation. Though it is still not the recommended choice, webcams have progressed and there are now very attractive and more importantly affordable options.

When choosing any camera, remember that picture quality is directly proportional to your knowledge of the camera and lighting. When you use a better quality camera, it can make up for a lack of expertise, but it is still important to learn about your camera before you begin shooting. Your movie will look better if you take time to learn about your camera and lighting. Plus, you will get some good practice in before you tackle your film project.

Basic Rules to Remember When Choosing a Camera

    • Manual focus is an absolute must have. Without manual focus your animation will be in and out of focus and blurry as the characters are moving.

 

    • Control your image. This means that you want to have control setting for white balance, gain, and exposure. By having manual control over these, your images will remain consistent.

 

    • Try not to Zoom. Unless you have a higher end camera or good lenses, zooming will degrade the value of your image. You want the highest quality picture you can get and this is generally achieved when zoomed out. Instead of zooming, move the camera around to get that perfect shot.

 

Camera technology changes daily and choosing what to buy usually comes down to your budget. Almost every option has its positives and negatives and instead of overthinking which one to buy, purchase the best you can afford and focus more on your animation and story building.

Though there are a few more options, these are the most used.

Digital Stills $300.00+

Example SLR – Canon

Be careful when looking at digital cameras as most lack manual controls. Also, the picture quality will not be as good as the higher end models. With the image quality, digital cameras have the ability to take high quality pictures that will make your animation look even better. Do not forget to see if your camera has remote capture software, or the ability to be connected to frame grabbing software.

Digital Recording

Most DV cameras will not capture a single frame by themselves. You will need extra software to be able to do this. Keep in mind before you purchase anything, that only certain cameras work with certain software. There are more expensive cameras, like Sony XDCAM, that offer the ability to take single frame images. However, this method is not been used as much by brickfilmers as less expensive alternatives offer the same quality animation.

XDCAM

Webcam $25.00 to $200.00

The most positive aspect of the webcam is cost. Most come with a solid stand and because they plug straight into the computer, offer smooth and quick uploading and therefore is a very smooth transition into editing. However, it almost goes without being said that the quality is low. Lighting becomes even more important as webcams have low resolution even in optimal conditions.

Point in Shoot $100.00 to $500.00

  

Tripod

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One of the most necessary requirements of filming smooth, fluid animation is keeping the camera rock steady. Ideally, find a tripod with solid legs and the ability to tilt, pan, and a head that firmly locks into place. As you begin learning stop motion you will probably keep the camera in one position, but as you develop your skill, you can add zooms, pans, and tilts, for dramatic affect. Though a tripod will save you the headache of having to re-shoot and re-set your scene, they are not entirely necessary. The main thing to remember is that the camera should never move unless you intend it to.

Editing

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The
There is a lot of different video editing software to choose from. This is not a complete list, but gives some options to choose from.

Final cut http://www.apple.com/finalcutpro/

Pinnacle Studio http://www.pinnaclesys.com/PublicSite/us/Products/Consumer+Products/Home+Video/Studio+Family/

CyberLink PowerDirector http://www.cyberlink.com/products/powerdirector/overview_en_US.html?&r=1

Corel http://www.corel.com/corel/category.jsp?cat=cat3430073&rootCat=cat20140

FREE

Microsoft Movie Maker http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/downloads/get-movie-maker

Apple iMovie www.apple.com/ilife/imovie/

Avid FreeDV http://www.avid.com/us/resources/freedv

Wax http://www.debugmode.com/wax/

Creating Brickfilm in Adobe Flash works well as it is set up like a lot of the other programs, include features like onion skinning.

Flash

http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/tdrc/index.cfm?product=flash&promoid=EBYEX

iMovie

Windows Movie Maker

Pinnacle

Adobe Premiere

Corel

AvidFreeDV

Wax

Onion skinning

Onion skinning is a 2D computer graphics term for a technique used in creating animated cartoons and editing movies to see several frames at once. This way, the animator or editor can make decisions on how to create or change an image based on the previous image in the sequence.

In traditional cartoon animation, the individual frames of a movie were initially drawn on thin onionskin paper over a light source. The animators (mostly inbetweeners) would put the previous and next drawings exactly beneath the working drawing, so that they could draw the ‘in between’ to give a smooth motion.

In computer software, this effect is achieved by making frames translucent and projecting them on top of each other.

This effect can also be used to create motion blurs, as seen in The Matrix when characters dodge bullets.

Squash and Stretch

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The
Squash and stretch is another important term used in animation, but because of the nature of Lego doesn’t pertain so much to Brickfilms. The basic reason for squash and stretch is that it makes the animation look more life like. Imagine bouncing a rubber ball, the ball does not stay rigid but instead will change shape as it is impacted.

1.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZOMN02dggY

2.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squash_and_stretch

Characters


The basis of a good story is centered on good characters, and just because Lego minifigures are plastic doesn’t mean that their personality has to be plastic.  As Lego has progressed, so have the characters.   You are only limited by your imagination in terms of creating memorable Brickfilm movie characters – so be bold!

Lego minifigures were first released in 1978 but were much different than they are today. Since then, Lego has added faces, accessories, facial hair, clothes, hair, hats, helmets, capes, and even glasses.  The list is never-ending. Lego has made hundreds of minifigures that cover almost any character you’ll ever require.

If you can’t find a specific character, you can even have them custom made.

http://www.minifigcustoms.com/resources/templates/list/63