Stop-motion Study 1 - Software Test

Category: Lego Films

For my first venture into stop-motion animation, I figured I would do a few simple software tests to familiarize myself with all of the tools needed to create the final product. Really, I only tested the video capture software (MonkeyJam), the compositing software (Axogon Composer), and the encoding software (VirtualDub using the Xvid codec). (Other software dealing with sound effects and audio will have to wait until I get to that point in my testing).

Josh loaned me a couple of webcams to get me up and running, and thanks to a couple of great tutorials on brickfilms.com, I was creating my first movie in no time. This first movie consists of two parts: the first is a simple walking scene to try out the video capture, and the second is an even more simplistic scene that was filmed solely to be the base used to try out features in Axogon.

Here are the results of my first ever attempt at stop-motion animation:

Pretty unimpressive, to be sure. But even with this simple test, I have learned several things:

  1. Webcams are not the greatest cameras in the world. Focusing and getting the colors right and trying not to end up with grainy images will be a challenge.
  2. Lighting is super important. I played around with a couple of (less than optimal) set ups, including using some white paper as backgrounds. It seems like the light needs to be plentiful, but not direct. Legos are suprisingly shiny and reflective.
  3. Patience is a virtue. Ok, so I didnt learn this tonight, but it was proven to me over and over again. In my first clip, I just wanted Mr. Lego to walk about five inches across the screen, but at 24 frames per second, that translates to a lot of frames.
  4. My timing needs work. I originally recorded the walking scene at 15fps, but the poor little lego guy was going so slow, I felt bad for him. By speeding him up to 24fps, he seemed to be moving at a realistic pace (as realistic as an inanimate lego guy trying to walk on his own can be).
  5. Axogon Composer is cool! Lightsaber effects on my first day!?!? That was awesome.
  6. This hobby has the potential to be very addicting. Although you are moving the pieces in such small increments and all that work translates into a few choppy seconds of video, it is suprisingly fun.




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