Monday, February 22, 2010

Stop-Motion Animation BEHIND THE SCENES

LEGO snowball behind the scenes animation set

Here are a few pictures showing the animation set up I used to film the entire "LEGO - Snowball Fight" animation.

In the above picture you can see my Apple MacBook Pro laptop computer set up and running Dragon Stop Motion.

Dragon is an image capture program that is one of my most valuable stop-motion animation tools! The program allows me to take pictures directly to my computer, creating live previews and immediate play back so that I can check my animation sequence.
Using Dragon I have total control over all my camera's manual settings right on my computer. Which allows me to keep the lighting and exposer consistent from frame to frame. Which is actually extremely important as even this short "LEGO - Snowball Fight" animation had over 800 individual frames (or pictures) that make up the animation in the film.

LEGO snowball behind the scenes animation set

In this photo, you can see how the set design in this film is very basic and straight forward. It's just a simple table-top set up with a piece of white poster board curved to create an infinite background.

The entire film was animated on this one piece of poster board.

LEGO snowball behind the scenes animation set

A matter of fact, on the table I'm animating on in the studio (which is actually just a piece of plywood) you can see next to the poster board is the set for another LEGO film I've been working on.

LEGO snowball behind the scenes animation set

LEGO snowball behind the scenes animation set

You can also see some of my lego bins on the side. It helps having them handy incase I need an extra piece or plate while I'm animating. Many times I'll use a small piece or collection of pieces to help prop up and hold a lego guy in just the right position until I can snap the picture.

Hopefully these pictures give you a little bit of a better idea of how simple and easy the concept of stop-motion animation can be!

You don't need a lot of fancy equipment or studio space. My studio set-up consist of:

1.) A table
2.) A piece of poster board / a simple background
3.) My subjects (In this case Lego guys)
4.) Some inexpensive lighting / lamps
5.) And a room in the basement where I can block out any uncontrolled lighting (i.e. I put cardboard over the window)

Pretty simple.

I do use a Digital Canon Rebel XSi camera and an attached Macro EF lens which together cost me around 840.00 dollars.
But you can certainly do the same animation and use any camera really.

And if you look online you can find several free stop-motion animation capture programs. These programs allow you to use a Video Camera, Web Cam, and some still digital cameras, to capture frames of your animation directly to your computer.

While using the Canon camera and lens that I use does improve the quality of my films it doesn't really make my animation any better.

With just a simple set-up you can animate excellent stop-motion animation films.

You can see this if you watch one of my older films, Clay Soup. (My first award-winning clay animation stop-motion film)
The animation is good, but the camera I used didn't have the best quality.

Now, years later, I'm able to produce a higher quality film as I'm using a little higher quality equipment.

I've always wanted to make movies and one thing about stop-motion animation that I love so much is that everything is on a smaller scale! I can't afford a "real" studio building and lights for producing a live-action film... but smaller scale stop-motion animation projects means smaller budgets! Smaller studios, smaller lights, smaller actors... it just opens up a lot of options to filmmakers!
And it's a lot of fun!

If you have any specific questions pertaining to stop-motion animation, filmmaking, or the "LEGO - Snowball Fight" animation I just completed... give me an e-mail!

You can e-mail me directly at: director@ponderpictures.com

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Your Director,

Spencer Weaver

Stay Sharp


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