|[Photo of my Lego stop-motion equipment. Photo courtesy of Joshua Yoon]|
At first, a Lego figure is still, but then it moves. One snap to another, the figure moves like a person. It sounds as if the lego figure is alive, but all of this is done by stop motion. Stop motion animation is a “traditional cinematographic technique that was first used to give illustrated figures the impression of movement,” and is one of my favorite hobbies. I became interested in stop motion through people such as George Lucas, who created some of the greatest films like Star Wars. In Star Wars, Lucas used stop motion in Empire Strikes Back, making 4 legged machines called AT-AT move on a snowy planet. I was amazed by this scene as I thought that it was a feasible vehicle that was moving.
I was also inspired to create stop motion movies after watching other people’s incredible stop motion films on YouTube, especially the Lego-related stop motion YouTube videos. I love the ones that are made into episodes that create elaborate stories. Some like “313th: A lego Star Wars Story - Dissent” or “Lego Cyclops - Star Wars the Clone Wars” are some of the most impressive stop motions I have seen. They show different Lego figures moving in a swift motion and make it so as if they were individuals with different personalities. As such, I have created several Lego stop motion films of my own.
|[Photo of my Lego stormtrooper stop-motion. Photo courtesy of Joshua Yoon]|
In making my stop motion videos I gained new experience with technology and program software that I had never was even aware of. On my iPhone, I download apps like the Stop Motion app, which showed me how to take crisp pictures, and the iMovie app which allowed me to edit the sound quality and transitions. I even learned how to use the greenscreen to juxtapose the actions sequence of the figures onto background shot. But the most important thing to remember in making stop motion picture is patience. Stop Motions can take a long time as you have to take a photo every single time you make a figure move. A regular walk cycle can take up to 100 photos just to give the figure fluid movement. At first, I had little patience and easily got frustrated. Sometimes I even gave up. Eventually, I have learned to persevere. It is a real “labor of love” as they say. Taking good pictures is not the only thing to consider. I had to learn lighting and graphics. Every picture you take needs to be clear and have good quality. If a single image is blurry, the stop motion is ruined. It is like making a film; if an actor makes a mistake or a scene contains a glitch, the whole take is ruined. Most importantly a stop motion picture is nothing without good storyline. This requires careful planning long before you start fiddling with your gadgets. I had to develop a script and create a proper backgrounds set for my figures. I had to create a storyboard to organize the sequencing of the scenes.
|[Photo of my Lego fight stop-motion. Photo courtesy of Joshua Yoon]|
I have created several stop motion films so far, but it took time for me to get the films right. Many of my work had lighting issues, and their storylines slow and choppy. My Lego characters did not look like living beings. They looked horrible and the production quality looked like that of a third grader’s project. Over time though, I got better and better. A lot of experimentation went into my productions, and I continue to improve even as I speak. My newest films look more fluid, and my Lego characters more lifelike. I have also become somewhat of a voice actor as well from dubbing multiple characters.
If you think Lego stop motion pictures sound childish, think again. Making stop motion pictures is a great fun, Lego or no Lego. It is also very rewarding. Just consider the fact that, through my trials and tribulations, I have become a much better story teller and organizer. Give it a try.
Pine-Richland High School
Joshua Yoon firstname.lastname@example.org