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November 7, 2012 at 6:04 pm #419934
How to recreate a YouTube video into a Lego Brick film.
1. If you plan on making a Lego version of a real YouTube video be aware that you will be taking a lot of photos and I mean a lot of photo images for even a simple one minute video! Since you normally shoot 15 FPS when you create a Lego brickfilm, you will need to realize that 15 x 60 = 900; that’s the total frames per Minute you will have to shoot to make a 1 minute Lego brickfilm!
2. So first, write down the entire time length of the video in minutes, this will then be broken down into seconds, which will then be multiplied by 15 to give you the total amount of frames you will need to shoot! Example, 6 min video = 360 seconds = 5400 photo images!! That is a lot of images for one video!!! Now you understand why people don’t shot in 24FPS to do a Brickfilm!
3. Once you know how many photos you will need to take start breaking down each shot or scene in the video. What I mean be this is, every time the scene changes this should be considered a new scene or camera setup. Remember; scene changes can be very subtle and you may not be aware of the new scene, so like in a movie, FADE IN or FADE OUT of locations is a scene change. Go through the entire YT “YouTube” video and count each new scene to get a total running count of scenes you will need to recreate. A lot of scenes or sets “as in a shoot location that your minifigs are standing in like a room or in front of a house” will be used repeatedly within the video.
4. Now that you know how many scenes there are, you need to find out how many seconds are in each new scene. You will probably need to watch the video in a video editor so you can get the running frame/time for the video. I use Convert any video and Movie Plus 6x. I first convert the video from YT into an Mpeg4, which I can then watch in Movie Plus. Movie Plus shows me the frame and running time as the movie plays. It normally looks like this: 00:01:34/13. This means you are at the 1 minute and 34 second mark of elapsed time in the movie and in the 13 frame of the 24 frame interval. Normally YT videos are shot at 24 FPS “unless it’s a Brickfilm hehehe!” so more than likely you will see the sequence go from 24 then start the next sequence at 0 or 1.
5. So now that you have the number of scenes and the time between each scene. This time reference between each scene will give you the amount of seconds you will need to multiply by 15 FPS to get the total amount of photo images you need to shot.
NOTE: This is important!!! Remember that the normal FPS on a YT video is 24 FPS and you are shooting at 15 FPS so you won’t be able to do a one-for-one photo to video image replacement. Since you can’t do a one-for-one you won’t be able to match the audio of the YT video with the movement of your Lego’s perfectly. You will need to remember this and plan your shots accordingly so they lag a little just so they will match the audio! Example; Let’s say you have 3 seconds of video for one scene, which means 45 individual frames you need to shot for that scene. Since the video scene is actually 72 individual frames, you need to watch where the movements and the voice will come in on those frames and sync your regular 45 images accordingly to match the audio and movement.
6. Ok, so you know the number of scenes you need to recreate and you know the total number of images you need to shot. Do you know exactly WHERE each movement and audio spots these frames will land on??? This is where you have to be creative and use an excel program to record all the drop points within each scene to know exactly where each audio and movement sequence falls on.
7. Start an excel doc and create the header settings as follows:
Total number seconds
Total number of frames
Number of characters in the scene
Number of characters in the scene that talk
Number of characters in the scene that move
Total number of types of move actions within the scene
Total number of movements per minifig
Total number of effects within the scene
Does this scene use Chrome Key “Green Screen” effects?
Total number of scenes that use the green screen background
A thumbnail image of each scene so you have a good idea of how to recreate the set
8. So to break this all down, you want as much detail out the video as you can get to make your life easier. The more detail you have the more your Brickfilm will look like the actual YT video and the nicer looking the finished video will be.
• Scene number – This is a number from 1 to [XX] of each and every scene that will be in your video. Example: 1, 2, 34, 50, etc… It doesn’t matter if the same scene/set is duplicated later in the video it is still considered another scene.
• Scene description – This is a written description of the scene in question with detailed information regarding the look of the set, lighting, night or day shot, what type of furniture or object are in the scene/set, is it action, horror, etc… “The Jedi Knight attacks the droid with the light saber on the death star in a corridor”
• Time/frame start – This is the starting time and frame number of the scene in question. It will have a specific format. Example: 00:01:45/11, which means 1 minute and 45 seconds into the video at frame 11 of 24.
• Time/frame end – This is the ending time and frame number of the same scene in question. It will have a specific format. Example: 00:01:47/20, which means 1 minute and 47 seconds into the video at frame 20 of 24.
• Total number seconds – This is how many seconds make up the running time of this particular scene. Don’t worry about figuring out the total seconds when the frames don’t match up, if the video starts at frame 00:01:45/11 and ends at 00:01:47/20 it is still a 2 second long scene! Only if it starts at frame 1 and ends at frame 24 would I add another second to the running time!!!
• Total number of frames – This is the total number of frame that will make up the length of the scene. Since we shoot in 15 FPS and you know that the scene is 2 seconds long, you only need to multiply 15 times the number of seconds to get the total number of frames you will need to shoot. Example: “30 frames are equal to 30 photo images needed or 15 x 2 seconds” “this is how many photo images you will need to create this scene!”
• Total number of characters in the scene – This is the total number of minifig characters that will be represented in the video. You basically want to make sure you credit each figure that will be in the shot either doing nothing, moving or talking. It doesn’t really matter what they are going to be doing just as long as you give them credit and know that you must have some minifig to represent that character in the video. Example: a Jedi Knight and a droid so there are  characters in the scene.
• Number of characters in the scene that are talking – This represents just the minifigs that will be using dialog to voice sync for mouth shapes. Since creating and dubbing mouth shapes is a huge process you want to make sure you know just how many minifigs you will be working on to complete the video process of syncing their voice to the audio. Example: “the Jedi Knight has dialog but not the droid so only  character will be using mouth shapes within the scene”
• IMPORTANT NOTE: I will cover this a little later but a good point to remember is all voice dialogs has to be broken down into vowels and not full moving mouth structures. Since you aren’t doing video and only have individual photo images to represent talking, it’s a good idea to create an excel doc that has every talking line in the video represented. After you have all the speaking parts written down, later you will add syllables or vowels under each word to represent the sounds of each of the mouth shapes that will be added to each individual photo image. Example: Hello has two syllables that represent the sound for “Hello” – L and O, so to recreate this will take two shots with two mouth shapes looking like they are saying the letter L and the letter O.
• Number of characters in the scene that move – This represents all the minifigs that will be doing some sort of movement such as walking, running, jumping, flying, etc… You need to know the number of these minifigs because you will be trying to sync up their movements with the actual video and since you are doing 15 FPS and YT using 24FPS, you need to manipulate these characters movement actions to try and estimate the beginning and ending movement process and the distance they travel. So let’s say you know one character will be walking for about a second and a half in a straight line down the street, which is 15 + 8 FPS “always round up in FPS” yet in the video it is actually 24 +12 frames. Since there will be no voice or dialog it’s an easy process of just taking 22 photo images of the minifig in his walking steps doing a straight walk pattern. The only critical part is matching distance on your set that will be similar to the actual video distance. Remember you have two options here for a walking sequence.
• One smooth full stride walk at 15 FPS takes about  frames:
1. Standing arms to side
2. Right arm just starting to go back, left arm just starting to go forward, left leg still in standing position, right leg forward just slightly
3. Right arm a little back, left arm a little forward, left leg still in standing position, right leg forward
4. Right arm full back and left arm full forward, both legs each hovering over a stub.
5. Right leg on the next stub and left leg a little back, both arms a little back and front.
6. Standing arms to side
7. Left arm a little back, right arm a little forward, right leg still in standing position, left leg forward
8. Left arm full back and right arm full forward, both legs each hovering over a stub.
9. Left leg on the next stub and right leg a little back, both arms a little back and front.
10. Left arm just starting to go back, right arm just starting to go forward, right leg still in standing position, left leg forward just slightly
11. Standing arms to side
• one quicker full stride walk at 15 FPS takes  frames:
1. Standing arms to side
2. Right arms a little back, left arm a little forward, left leg still in standing position, right leg forward
3. Right leg in the stub and left leg back, right arm back, left arm forward
4. Standing arms to side
5. Left leg in the stub and right leg back, left arm back, right arm forward
6. Left arms a little back, right arm a little forward, right leg still in standing position, left leg forward
7. Standing arms to side
• Total number of types of move actions within the scene – This is a bit trickier because you have to count all the types of movement actions within the scene. This could be anything from swinging a light saber to jumping over an obstacle to a simple walking or running motion. You need to total all the types of movements but not the actual number that would make up the sequence. What I mean by this is, you may know that to walk for 2 seconds at a normal walk cycle may take 14 photo images but you only need to count the  walk action for that scene, not all the steps.
• Total number of movements per minifig – This is the actual number of movement sequences for each minifig in the scene. So now you start counting each movement step for each type of move action with regard to each minifig. Example: if you have a minifig that will be jumping in the air and that jump will take 8 shots then record 8 for that movement sequence. And another minifig in the scene may be running across the set and take a total of 35 shot to make up the total sequence, now you add the 35 shots to the running total of this entire scene.
• Total number of effects within the scene – This represents all the different types of effects that are in the scene such as flames, light saber attacks, gun shots, spell casting, explosions, blasts, lightning, etc… When you know all the number of effects for the scene you can plan accordingly to how many shots you will need to reproduce that particular effect within that scene and match it to the number of frames it occupies within the specific video sequence in the YT video.
• Does this scene use the Chrome Key “Green Screen” affects – This is a YES or NO answer and will let you know that the photo images you take within this scene will need to be modified using a green screen background and a chrome key video editor on the final image.
• Total number of scenes that use the green screen background –This gives you a running total of how many scenes in your video will be using the green screen background and will let you plan accordingly to preparing the set and backdrop for these scenes.
• A thumbnail image of each scene so you have a good idea of how to recreate the set – This is just a visual representation of the scene or the set so you have a good idea of how the set looks and what you will need to recreate the set out of Legos. Plus it can also show you quickly how many minifigs are in the scene and where they will be located during the shot.
9. Once you have all this information within an excel document you can start planning out what Legos you will need to build each set/scene and which minifigs you will use within the video. Unless you are a huge Lego buyer and have mass quantities of legos you are going to have to improvise on your lego production. I find that the actual colors of the legos are the hardest to match within a new video. I will want to use a large tan base plate yet all I have are Blue, Green, or Gray. One way to get around this is to either use or buy a bunch of smaller plates of that color or use an image editor to change the color to the one you want. This is a harder process and can take a bit of time to get it to look right but it’s possible to get this to work within your video. A lot of the process will depend on the software you have and the functions or the editor you are using.
10. Try to plan your shots around the sets you create and get the sets built that will end up having the most images taken from it. So if you have a set or scene that will represent the most scenes in the video, create this set first and take all your photo images of each scene but make sure you categorize each scene separately. Example: You have a scene that is within a room but different minifigs go in and out of the room at different times in the video. Just keep this set and continue taking shots of the entire different scene with different camera angles and minifigs, then when all the shots for that set/scene are complete go ahead and tear it apart and build the next set/scene. Also, I recommend you take as many photo images within each scene to make sure you have to extra images you can use just in case. You don’t want to have to go back to a scene and rebuild the entire set again, plus have to match perfectly the camera angle of the scene so the images will match up. This is almost impossible unless you have an incredible eye for the camera and can put all the extra props that are within the scene in the exact position as they were in the original scene. Try to avoid this because it’s not fun and you will usually end up having to redo the entire photo shoot again.
11. Sometimes you might not have enough minifigs to fill the scene, like multiple zombie characters or only one cave troll and you need seven. You can get around this by using the layer/erase method in your graphical image editor! You could recreated a scene with 7 cave trolls in it yet only have one cave troll to your name. You take an initial photo of the set without anything in it, just the set at the correct angle and lighting of the scene. You recreate the scene that would have all 7 cave trolls in it by taking photos of one troll in seven different spots within the scene with all the individual movements for that troll in each of those locations. So for example; you place the cave troll in one location and you know the shot is going to be 2 seconds long total. You need 30 shots of this one troll in the location he is in and within those 30 shots you have a few movements with the arms. Next put the cave troll in another location close to the first one but not close enough where it will look like it would be touching and do the same thing all over again, take 30 more shots with some of the shots having slight movement of the arms, hands or legs and then again moved the troll to a new location until you get all the images you need. Make sure each photo images sequence is cataloged separately by scene and troll number so you can keep them organized and know which troll location is which. After you have all the shots you need, 30 x 7 = 210, you have to edit each shot within an image editor and put them together into 30 final images. To do this you first import the initial set shot with nothing in it and place this on the first layer or [layer #1 movie set]. Then import the cave troll image#1 into a new layer called [layer #2 Cave Troll #1] directly on top of the set image. These two images must match up perfectly for this to work out correctly. If you don’t match these up perfectly you will see a slight shifting of your image during the video playback and this looks terrible because it is almost like a screen flicker! BAD!!!! Now the hard and tedious part, you must ERASE all the rest of the image that is bordering the cave troll so the original set background will show through the top layer cave troll image! I use either Fluid Mask 3 or Draw Plus 5x to do this and either looks pretty cool once the outer image border is erased and you can see the background image come through. Once the entire border is gone and you see only the background image with just the troll showing you can start on the next cave troll. Again, import Cave Troll #2 into a new layer called [layer #3 CaveTroll #2] and follow the same process of erasing all the border image around the troll till you only have the troll sitting on top of the set image and cave troll #1. Continue this process till you create a layer for all seven cave trolls on the main set image. When you have all seven trolls with all the borders erased and sitting on top of the main set image you can save and export this image as a JPG and create the first of your final 30 needed photo images. Remember, your scene needs a total of 30 images even though you took 210 shots. You will be importing the seven troll images into the mail set image to create each of the 30 final photos for the 2 second video sequence. Once you’ve created this first photo image it will be number 1 of 30. As you can see you need to follow this same process for the remaining 29 photos and this is going to take a while. In the end the results will be remarkable and no one will know that you only used one cave troll to make this video!!! Again, this is a tedious process but allows you to create videos without having all the minifigs or props in your inventory!
12. Now that you have all the detailed information in your excel doc to make your video, start creating your sets and deciding on the minifigs you will be using for each scene. Set design is critical because you want your video to have cool looking scenery but you will be using Lego bricks! I think it’s important to recreate all the sets/scenes from the YT video using lego brinks and not still shots or images from the actual video. Remember, we are making a Lego Brick Film and not a real live video, so always try to use lego bricks for everything instead of image backgrounds or still images. “Exceptions: you don’t have enough legos to make the entire set or you can’t recreate the set with only lego bricks and need a back drop to complete the set.” It’s ok to use images for props and scene/set pieces but you will get a more authentic feel if you use bricks for all the walls, floors, and main props or objects within the set.
13. Once you have your first set created place your minifigs in the correct location on the set as they would be in the YT video. Placement is critical because if things look too far from each other or don’t have the same distance properties you will get strange movement cycles within your video and they won’t match the FPS timing. Now is where all the detailed information from your excel doc will come in handy!! You have all the initial movement starts and stop sequences, all the frame and timing directions, the types of movement and actions, the overall length of the scene, and times when the minifig will be talking or walking.
14. This next part gets rather tedious but is absolutely necessary because you need to remember when each minifig moves in the scene and at which time and frame it happens. It can get rather confusing when you have a bunch of minifigs in your scene and you’re not sure which minifig or object moved or didn’t move for each particular shot! I always do two things to keep track of all the moving objects and minifigs that are in the scene:
• I create an excel doc that has all the objects in the scene “minifigs and objects” and make them headers and put a boxes under each minifig and object to represent all the photos that will be taken for that scene. I place them in a left to right reference on the excel doc as they are shown within the scene and the camera view.
• I move each minifig or object in the scene from left to right! As I move the left most minifig or object I check it on the excel doc and go to the next object or minifig. This way you will never miss a movement cycle of one of the minifigs or object within the scene shot.
15. Some things to remember when creating human like movement on a minifig character. You are very limited with the arms and legs movement on a lego minifig and must be creative to get it to look somewhat realistic. Walking can be pretty realistic looking but turns are rather awkward. The smoothest and most realistic turn transition is by putting the leg up and turning the minifig incrementally to complete a quarter turn, half turn or full turn. The more incremental turn degrees you use, the smoother the turn will look.
16. If you are using the small half size minifigs like Frodo or kid minifigs, you will notice the legs don’t work and you have to do little hops to make the minifig walk. Basically you just start with the minifig standing straight up and pushed down on to the stubs. Next put the minifig on top of and in between the next stubs forward. Essentially balancing on the four stubs. Then push the minifig down onto the next forward stubs. Continue this cycle of movement to the distance necessary for the shot. It’s only a three cycle movement process.
17. For head turns you have a number of options like slow turns or random turns or just focusing on a couple of minifigs in the scene. Head turns can make the minifig look more realistic and helps keep the viewer engaged by giving the scene a more fluid and smooth feel. Try not to keep the head in one spot for more than a second unless there are only two minifigs in the scene and they are in deep conversation. Real people tend to drift or focus on other objects when they are in a room or situation. Keep this in mind when you are trying to keep the head movement of your minifigs realistic. You don’t always have to do small incremental movements because this will tend to look like head ticks when you watch it on the video. You can have the minifig head turn from character to character or object and it will look fine just make sure you leave the head facing the character for at least three or four frames or more if necessary. If the minifig whose head you are turning is not in the conversation but is an observer than you can move his head back and forth and face each talking minifig as they take their turn talking. Important: always remember Ease IN and Ease OUT, meaning if you have to move the head facing from one side to the other make sure you make two very small incremental turns and then make the large full turn, and then one or two very small turns to the facing of the minifig he is going to look at.
18. With arm and hand movements again you are very limited and have only a few realistic actions you can show with the arms and hands. Two arms up can show stress or exasperation or even shock. One arm up can show the minifig in an “oh my God” expression, if you bend the body and have both arms up the minifig will look as if he is crying or losing control. You can salute with one arm and even swing the arm around but if you have an object in the hand of the minifig it may hit the head and mess up the sequence. Always remember the hands and that they can show expressions with movement. Real people move their hands back and forth or turn them from side to side, make sure you have subtle movements with your hands as well as the arms so it looks as if the minifig is really animated and into the conversation. Just remember to not turn the hand all the way around, this is unrealistic and humans can’t do this!
19. Last is body movement and this covers entire body or waist movement. The minifig can be pretty flexible and can bend forward and backwards pretty far. You can simulate a lot of movement actions with the body such as falling, being pushed over, bending to pick something up, reaching for things in front or on top of the minifig, concussion or blast waves can be simulated by having the body pushed back in very small increments and then moved forward again in very small increments. Do this a few times to show that the character was hit with something or hit with a shock wave. Remember, people don’t normally bend backward half way so try not to do this with your minifig it’s not very realistic. You will also notice you can make a slight turn with your minifig to show a small body twist or turn yet the legs will still be in the same position. It’s very slight but looks cool in a few framed shots.
20. These are just a few things to remember about minifig movements, there are many, many more movements to use but this is just an overview and not meant to be a detailed description of all the movement forms of a lego minifig. Maybe later I will put a doc together that will cover every type of lego movement possible but for now I hope this is helpful.
21. When trying to sync voice with your minifig to the audio it can get a little tricky because again you are shooting at 15 FPS and the original video is 24 FPS so you may have to skip a few mouth shapes that would normally be included in the dialog.
22. Another thing to remember when you are going to be using Green Screen is: You can never have enough lamps! I found the best results if I use 4 lamps! The reason: You need a lot of light on the minifig or set and two lamps pointing at the minifig or scene will give plenty of light! This will give you a nice, crisp clean lit edge around the minifig, set, or pieces in the scene. I use a green screen cloth that was made specifically for this purpose! I wouldn’t use origami paper, which has a high gloss factor or any paper unless you can get a perfectly clean, none wrinkled sheet with great even coloring! The green screen has to be moved pretty far back from the minifig or set in the background! If it is too close to the minifig or set is will shine or glare into the minifig or sets edges and cause the green halo or green edge effect! This is the main issue with green screen problems and bad images. The more you get a green glare then there will be more of a green lining or halo on your minifig or set! Use two lamps on the green screen, with each pointed 45 degrees at the green screen but not too close because this is what will cause the glare, which will show up of the minifig or set! You want even lighting on the green screen yet you don’t want it really bright!! Try to keep the green screen a little darker than normal but enough to where the light distribution is even and all the green looks exactly the same on the entire green screen cloth! Image quality and focus!! What I mean by this is you have to have a really nice quality camera or webcam that can give you a high quality image. The focus of the camera or webcam on the minifig or set must be enough to give a crisp, clean edge and not a blurry edge. The more your minifig or set has an edge then the more you will have green color bleed that makes it harder for the video editor to remove later. Editing software! This is the last critical component to getting nice high quality green screen shots! Some editing software such as iKITmovie will let you use up to three color settings to remove the green in the background. Plus there is software that has this image line bleeding effect that knows how to remove the green from the edge of the minifig or set image. The more features of chrome color affects you have at your disposal the more you can clean up a nice green screen image! You can also use Fluid Mask 3, which is a program specifically used for chrome key effects!!!
Hope these helped!
23. So now let’s say you have dialog in the video for one of the minifigs and you aren’t sure how to go about setting up and syncing the mouth shapes. First, as I said previously, you want to write down every single spoken line in the video. I know this is a pain but will save you a bunch of time in the long run. Example: One of the minifigs has a voice part that goes as follow; “Hello John, are your going to take a break from the search?” You need to write this line down in an excel doc with each word placed in individuals cells. Next under each word in a cell type in the number of syllables that make up the word. Then under that cell write down the actual syllables for the word itself, such as; Hello which would be  syllables and the syllables would be Hell and Oh. Since you don’t do voice as video motion in a Brickfilm, you have to represent each syllable within each individual photo image. So you will use a mouth shape that looks like the letter [L] and another mouth shape that looks like the letter [O]! This is basically breaking down each syllable to the letter representation if possible. An expression like “Oh” would also be the letter O! For the word “Great” you would use the mouth shape for the number  and so on. You can figure these all out by standing in front of a mirror and talking through the lines one word at a time. You can even take a photo of you saying each syllable for each word in front of the mirror and then copying these shapes into the Lego mouth shapes. The nice thing about having all the dialog written down on an excel doc is you don’t have to watch the YT video over and over, plus you have all the syllables in one spot ready for you to create in your mouth shaped image editor. Once you have the shapes all created you will have to import them or copy them onto the photo images in the correct time/frame sequence of the video. Again, since we use 15 FPS and YT is 24 FPS, you have fewer frames to recreate your talking parts and sometimes have to fudge it to get the voice and mouth shape to match up.
24. A lot of what I’ve written down here adds a tremendous amount of extra work to creating a Brickfilm video but by taking the extra time and effort you will not only create a more fluid and realistic video but the quality of your video will increase ten-fold. You won’t be guessing about specific details or issues, you won’t have to constantly reference the YT video to see what you are suppose to create, edit, or build, and the overall time it takes to create your video will decrease because you have all the information about your project and what you need right in front of you!
25. I will probably be adding more information to this How-To document so keep an eye out for further postings. I hope this helps you on your next big YT video recreation!
Joseph “Kingspud” PropatiNovember 8, 2012 at 5:04 am #419937
Bric a bracMember
WHOA! This is indeed detailed… BIG THANKS!!!November 9, 2012 at 12:55 am #419942
Wow – impressive. This tutorial has been added to our resource page: http://brickfilms.com/resources/tech-guides-articles/preparation/. Thanks for sharing!November 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm #419956
Bric a bracMember
That’s awesome! Congrats Joseph Propati! This would be a big help for a lot of new brickfilm makers! kudos!December 22, 2012 at 9:52 pm #420530
wow that is Really detailed!December 22, 2012 at 10:38 pm #420533
micka p ninja nutMember
sounds kind of hardJanuary 5, 2013 at 9:12 pm #420721
Hmm, Pretty Compilcated. If you have IStopmotion, you can import another movie next to your brickfilm. Doing so, you can copy the movements of the other movie.January 6, 2013 at 12:37 am #420726
I am more excited to make a brickfilm now!January 6, 2013 at 11:24 am #420729
It’s quite detailed, congratulations should prove quite useful to newer brickfilmers.February 14, 2013 at 5:38 pm #421146
Awesome. We should have more of these