Stop Motion Animation

Stop Motion Animation

by Timo van de Put

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Animation tips & tricks

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Making LEGO items (and especially minifigs) move in a credible way is the true art of animation. Let me share my experience sofar...

Walking minifig

Note that a natural walk animation heavily depends on the frame rate used. This is my walking animation at 9 frames per second:

step 1
Right leg
step 2
Step + arms side
step 3
Stand + right arm
step 4
Left leg
step 5
Step + arms side
step 6
Stand + left arm



I frequently use a table listing the frame numbers and corresponding leg + arm changes for every walking minifig on the set to keep track of the individual animations.

Running minifig

This is my running animation at 9 fps:

step 1
Left leg + right arm
step 2
Step + arms side
step 3
Right leg + left arm
step 4
Step + arms side



Notice how the minifig jumps 2 stubs at every step and its body is slightly leaning forward to gain momentum.

Speed of a motion

The speed at which items move in a Brickfilm is determined by their displacement between frames. This means that while animating acceleration, the displacement between frames should be increasing with every frame. (E.g. when striking with a sword or while knocking on a door.)

Ballistic trajectories

If something gets thrown in a scene, according to the laws of physics the item being thrown should follow a parabolic trajectory. A trick to animate such a trajectory is this:

  1. Draw the planned trajectory on a piece of paper.
  2. Mark the animation positions on the trajectory, based on the frame rate and keeping in mind that the horizontal displacement is usually equal between frames.
  3. Position the piece of paper in front of the camers such, that the line (approximately) matches the trajectory in the set and then grab the drawing as a background image.
  4. Optionally grab a second background image of the set without the thrown item for masking purposes.
  5. Use the "rotoscope" feature to position the thrown item using the trajectory as a template.
  6. Use the "masking" feature to hide any wires or supports used to position the item in mid-air.
  7. Grab the frame, clear the mask, and continue at step 5 until the item reaches its end position or moved out of the scene.
Page last modified on December 16, 2007, at 10:17 PM