The Definitive Guide to Brick Filming

Hi! I’m Amari. In this article, I want to help you understand brick filming and its techniques. If you already understand LEGO Stop Motion Animation, I want to make you better at it. Introducing our definitive guide to brick filming, read on to find many exclusive tips with examples.

My SigFig - LEGO Animation
My SigFig

What it Brick Filming?

Brick filming is using LEGOs in a stop-motion video to make a film or video. People use brick filming to tell jokes and stories.

What is Stop-Motion?

Websters dictionary’s definition of stop motion is a filming technique in which successive positions of objects (such as clay models) are photographed to produce the appearance of movement.

J Stuart Blackton
J Stuart Blackton

J. Stuart Blackton is credited as the creator of stop-motion, even if he didn’t create the basic stop-action (also called a stop edit) which is were you pause the camera, change something in the scene and restart the camera. Stop action is the predecessor and the basic principal of stop-motion. It was created by the early film maker and (my words) genius, Georges Méliès.

What Happens When You Use LEGO?

When you use LEGO in a stop-motion animation, you are presented with advantages and disadvantages. The most important difference you’ll experience is the restriction of movement. With only seven joints (legs, arms, hands, and the head) you can still show a very good range of motion. You can express emotion and dialogue. You can even detach the arm from its socket to increase the movement. One advantage of the limited joints is that it makes it easier to animate smooth movements.

Part 1: Getting Started

Getting Started with LEGO Brick Filming
A Brickfilm, Literally!

If you’re interested in getting started with brick filming, you’re going to need all the right tools.

Gear

You’re going to need some basic tools to begin. You can make an animation with only a phone, but to make a more impressive animation, consider buying and using the following.

  1. A camera (a DSLR or a webcam will work)
  2. A tripod
  3. Lights
  4. A computer
  5. All the necessary cord

software

The Dragonframe logo
The Dragonframe logo

You might be able to get away with using a cheap camera or cheap lights, but the software is very important. For a phone I would recommend Stopmotion Studio Pro. It costs $4.99, but I think it’s worth it. I would also recommend LapseIt Pro, it costs $2.99. Both of them have free versions with less features, functions, and tools.

For a mac or PC, I would recommend Dragonframe even though it costs $325 with the bluetooth controller. It is the highest end software available. Many professional movies such as Isle of Dogs and Early Man were made using Dragonframe. If you don’t want to spend that much, I would suggest Stopmotion Studio Pro. It costs $9.99.

Stay away from iStopmotion 3!

The reviews for iStopmotion 3 (19.99) are really bad. For me, it kept crashing and wasn’t pairing with my canon rebel t2i even though it was listed as compatible. Perhaps iStopmotion 4 will come out with none of these problems. Until then, watch out for iStopmotion 3.

Knowledge

The LEGO Animation Book Review by Ninja Brick - Front Cover Photo The LEGO Animation Book Review by Ninja Brick - Back Cover Photo

The best book available for detailing everything about brick filming is the LEGO animation book. Here’s our review of it. We highly recommend that you read this book if you are interested in filming with LEGO.

Part 2: Improving Your Brickfilm

Now that you have everything you need and you understand stop-motion, it probably still isn’t as good as it can be.

Technical Tips

Technical stuff - Definitive Guide to LEGO Brick Filming
Technical stuff

Remember to keep your lighting consistent to prevent light flicker. Here is an example of light flicker and how I got rid of it:

Lighting from outside is inconstant, either from clouds or, in my case, because it was behind me and my shadow was inconsistent. I used my overhead light-boxes to replace the sunlight. Then I put a piece of paper up to block my reflection on the shiny plastic lego road and building.

Animation Tips

Be sure to keep the animation smooth and realistic. There is a technique called ease in ease out or slow in slow out. This technique is where you start a motion slow, speed up, and then slow down. Every motion in real life accelerates and decelerates. Some movements don’t follow this rule, for example if something falls, it wouldn’t slow down before it hits the ground.

Editing and VFX Tips

VFX with VFX
VFX with VFX

Editing software is very important. I do all my editing in Adobe After Effects. I really like it and think it’s worth the price. You can use many other kinds of software to. I like final cut pro and Premier pro the best. I hear sSony Vegas is good, but I’ve never used it, I’m a mac person and Vegas is for windows.

I have a ton of green screening tips; use a smooth, consistently lit screen and use a blue screen if there are green elements in the shot. Also remember that in a camera and our eyes, we don’t see yellow; we see a little bit of red and green. Therefore, when using green screen on something yellow, you need to do some clever fixing. Here is how to deal with that.

Part 3: Taking it to the Next Level

Lets make you even better. You completely understand the principals and techniques, you might want to make it unique; make it your own.

Stylizing

You can add a signature touch of your own by stylizing your film. You can use dramatic lighting or unique coloring to your film for some extra flare. Also, you can even use animation to stylize it through the animation, itself.

Stylizing the Animation

You can find a way to use animation to suggest a mood or style. The animator fancypants uses short and fast movements for the comedic effects, while twickabrick uses slow, smooth and subtle movements.

Stylizing the Lighting

Lighting in LEGO Stop Motion Animation
A Light

This is a more common way to stylize a brickfilm. I like using lots of black to restrict what the viewer can see either to direct their eyes to the action (such as in my 8x8x8 entry, LEGO Segway chase – embedded below) or to create suspense and even confusion (for example in at 1:20 my brickfilm, The Only Stormtrooper that Could Shoot Straight – embedded below).

LEGO Segway chase

The Only Stormtrooper that Could Shoot Strait

You can also use lighting to show time of day. If you make your lighting look like sunrise/set, you can create a really striking shot.

Conclusion

I hope you learned something about LEGO brick filming! Please let me know if you have any questions and let me know what you thought in the comments. Have a nice day and I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next.

LEGO Minifigure Stop Motion Animation Waving Goodbye
Bye!
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Definitive Guide to Brick Filming (LEGO Stop Motion Animation)
Article Name
Definitive Guide to Brick Filming (LEGO Stop Motion Animation)
Description
Helping you to understand brick filming and its techniques. If you already understand LEGO Stop Motion Animation, we want to make you better at it. Introducing our definitive guide to brick filming! Read on to find many exclusive tips with examples, such as how to get started, animation tips and stylising your film.
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Ninja Brick
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