LEGO Creator Small Cottage Stop-Motion Animation Build.

This is my stop motion animation build video of the LEGO Creator Small Cottage, model 31009:

This model has 271 pieces and is quite fun to build. It’s a three-in-one, meaning it can be built in 3 configurations using 3 different instruction booklets.

All animations done in Dragonframe Stop Motion.

I learned a lot about stop-motion animation during the production of this video. Firstly, I got to appreciate even more the skills and talents of animators who do this for a living. I am experiencing first-hand how meticulous and patient one has to be to come up with even just a few seconds of animation using this technique. Hats off to those who make this look so easy.

Secondly, I also learned how technical things can be with stop motion animation, most especially with lighting and camera set up. I’ve been having severe light flicker during the filming of my scenes for this video. Some of the scenes came out okay, but some scenes, especially during 1/3 of the video, was heavily plagued with light flicker. However, I think I may have found the right technique on how to almost completely eliminate it.

Aside from keeping every setting on the camera on manual, here’s my list of do’s and don’t to avoid light flicker during stop motion animation filming:

1. Wear dark coloured clothing. Any light clothing will reflect the light, affecting the metering of the camera.

2. Block out any windows so that there would be no natural lighting coming in to the room. I shoot down in the window-less part of our basement. This is to avoid the ever changing light coming from outside, which will affect the lighting of the scene.

3. Shoot with a long exposure setting. I read this tip somewhere and I find that it works well for me sometimes. I have yet to find the optimum camera shutter and aperture setting to completely eliminate light flicker.

4. Move away from the scene set up as far away as possible. Previously, I was working just behind the camera. When I moved my computer monitor further away, that sort of took me almost completely out of the scene range, helping in not activating any changes to the camera’s metering. I plan on putting up a board or something between me and the scene set up and camera so that I would be completely blocked off.

5. Make sure to stay in the same position each and every time a frame is captured.

6. Periodically check the high resolution captures in the Cinematography Workspace for any changes in exposures. It’s painstakingly laborious, but it’s the best way to see if light flicker is starting to creep into a take. I had to do a couple of takes for some scenes just because light flicker started happening, even after I’ve made sure I have followed all the previous steps.

So far, the things on the list mentioned above helped me out in avoiding any light flicker. You will notice that later on in the video, there were almost no light flicker.

Thirdly, iMovie 11 sucks. It just so happened that that’s the version of iMovie that I have on my iMac, which was a relatively new computer. It keeps dropping frames whenever I import the videos that I exported from Dragonframe, making my animations jerky in some parts. Luckily, I still have iMovie 9 in my old Mac Pro. I ended up editing my video using that version of iMovie. Still, it was a pain because I had to do some workarounds such as splicing the editing in parts because iMovie started to slow down once I loaded it up with so many snippets of sound effects. I hope to move up to a more capable video editing software like Final Cut whenever I can finally afford one.

Troubles aside, I really had fun animating this video. I am sure will be producing more of these in the future.

Thanks for following along and stay tuned for more!

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