Everything IS awesome when it comes to LEGO™. It’s the toy that spans all generations, genders and geographies. It unites, it inspires and it gets people’s imaginations ignited. From the iconic brick to the tiny yellow characters, the possibilities are endless.
So endless in fact that when your brick-based world has been created, this is where the fun really begins. Enter ‘The Animators’. Whether you’re a self-taught amateur, an animation student or someone just starting out on a quest to recreate your very own version of the LEGO™ Movie, you have landed in the right place. This week, we’re sharing our top tips to animating LEGO™. You are welcome.
Top Tip No.1 – Rock the Block
It wouldn’t be LEGO™ if all the characters seamlessly transition from one fluid movement to the next like a perfected Mexican wave. Aim for a ‘blocky’ movement. Think classic ‘Robot’ dance move of the ’70s. This is achieved by taking 12 pictures every second as opposed to the usual 25 (what’s known in the business as shooting ‘on-twos’) making the scenes much quicker to animate. Awesome!
Top Tip No.2 – Go Large or Go Home
One of the endearing traits of LEGO™ is its size but this does bring its own animation challenges. To ensure the charm and personality is conveyed on camera the trick is to exaggerate the movements. Make BIG movements to get across the action your character is making, for example:
1. Before they run in one direction give them a really big anticipation in the opposite direction.
2. If they jump, have them crouch down for a long time.
3. If they come to a stop after running, make them skid before they stop.
Top Tip No.3 – Pick up the Pieces
Because of their teeny-tiny size, it’s not always easy to move the character into the new position when they’re placed on set. One way to get around this is to pick the character up out of the set and animate him/her in your hands. This will allow you greater control to achieve what you want. Then, using the previous frame as a reference, you can replace the character on set in the same location. Awesome!
Top Tip No.4 – LOL-ing
LEGO™ characters are natural comedians. They’re entertaining and bold. Aim to incorporate these traits into your animation. These could be as simple as adding a trip or a stagger when the character is walking. Nothing like a bit of slapstick comedy to bring out the LOL’s. Audiences love a ‘pie in the face’ gag….I mean, who doesn’t? Awesome!
Top Tip No.5 – Heads, Hats & Hair
If a character has hair or a hat, or both, pay extra attention when rotating the head to make sure they all move at the same speed. The last thing you need is a hat that has a life of its own, or hair resembling Medusa (unless of course, that is precisely what’s written in the script). Even the smallest of movements look massive at this scale. Take time to check the frame before moving on and replay the shot frequently to make sure everything is working as it should. Awesome!
Top Tip No.6 – Everything is better when we stick together
Make sure everything is…no, not awesome….stuck down. From the set itself to the lighting and the camera, anything that isn’t meant to move should be secured. A small knock literally looks like an earthquake on camera. Which wouldn’t be awesome, so stick those bricks and then everything will be totally AWESOME.
So there you have it, our top tips for animating LEGO™. Do with this what you will, have fun and rest in the knowledge that, everything is awesome when you’re living out a dream.