Archive for May, 2012
I am a fan of Chris Salts Stop Motion with LEGO. I only recently came across an interview he did for BBC Technology by Mark Ward.
“A scene with Chris above using his set and stop motion software to bring his movie to life”
I have transcribed the interview as Chris describes his LEGO stop motion.
LJ Rich: That was Jane’s Brain, a video shot entirely on location in this Stock On Trent bedroom. Now Chris Salt, you’re the mastermind behind all this. How long did Jane’s Brain take to do?
Chris Salt: In total, it took probably a week and a half, part of that was building everything that you see on the screen.
LJ Rich: What process are you using to do the filming?
“All Rights to Mark Ward – Technology correspondent, BBC News”
Chris Salt: It’s called Stop-Motion Animation. You take a photo of, in my case Lego, you then move the things that are going to move just a tiny little bit and then you take another photo and then you do it again and again and again. For every 15 photos that you take, that’s one second of video.
LJ Rich: So how did Jane’s Brain actually come about?
Chris Salt: Jane’s Brain was an entry for a competition on the BBC News 6 Music radio station. There’s a show called Adam and Joe where they would each prepare a song and then get the listeners to create a video for it. I managed to create the video that you’ve seen at one.
LJ Rich: You had a continuing relationship with 6 Music afterwards.
Chris Salt: Around the time that 6 Music was facing closure, Adam Buxton who’s the guy who did the Jane’s Brain song made a jokey protests on.
LJ Rich: So, we’ve got David Bowie and his Ziggy Stardust lightning across his face.
Chris Salt: Yeah.
LJ Rich: A viewer would think that that was just you moving and focus in and out but there’s more to it, isn’t there?
Chris Salt: There is. You just have to change the focus tiny little bit, take a picture, change it a tiny little bit again. There’s a lot of digital work for the presentation, the reflections on the table. I had to throw all the digital stuff in the background after the focus as the faces came-in in the front. You don’t need an expensive camera. You just need a cheap webcam. The one that I use at the moment was 50 pounds.
LJ Rich: You actually harness your Lego powers for good.
Chris Salt: A year or two ago, I took part in a charity event in aid of prostate cancer. Men spend the month of November growing moustaches. I thought I would make a little video to accompany it and get a bit of publicity.
LJ Rich: So, I composed some music for you to put to Lego. How are you going with that?
Chris Salt: I’ve built a little choir and a piano. I’ve also created a little LJ. You should see that.
LJ Rich: It’s like looking at a mirror. Right, we’re in position for the stop motion animation. So, do I just kind of reach in and lift up.
Chris Salt: Just life up each arm. Lift the arms a little bit more again.
LJ Rich: This is quite hypnotic, isn’t it?
Chris Salt: Yeah. That’s one word.
LJ Rich: You know I keep on nudging the pianist.
Chris Salt: We’re going to play this back and see what we’ve done so far.
LJ Rich: Absolutely! The guy in the background moved because I knocked him over. How long is it going to take you to do this properly?
Chris Salt: It’s probably going to be a few hours to do the Stop Motion Animation itself, a few more hours to put faces on the choir and have them all singing in their different parts.
LJ Rich: Don’t you wish you’ve done something quiet slightly less detailed?
Chris Salt: All the time.
- End of Interview-
I am not sure what stop Motion software Chris uses when making his animations. Whatever stop motion software he uses it sure makes excellent animations.
Stop Motion and LEGO have been synonymous for years now. So many Brickfilms or LEGO Animations out there to choose from. I came across a really interesting interview with three creative artists working with LEGO. Sean Kenney,Alex Kobbs and Nathan Sawaya.
I have transcribed the video narrative here for your enjoyment. All rights to the producers here.
Sean Kenney: There’s something just natural about the way two Lego pieces click together. It just feels right for that moment those two things are perfect and they’re meant for each other.
With the Lego, you can create art. You can create films. You can create models. You can make something functional. You can make something that you can wear.
Nathan Sawaya: Everyone has snapped together a Lego brick at one time or another. It’s such a great feeling just hear that click.
Sean Kenney: Lego has always been a big part of my life. It’s something very tangible. It’s less austere than an oil painting or a bronze sculpture. And because of that, it connects with people in a way that I think art is supposed to. If you look at a computer screen, it’s just a bunch of colored squares if you zoom all the way in. And so I thought, “Well, you can do that with Lego bricks. You can create a mosaic.” So I decided that I was going to take this to another level. I’ve done portraits of a mother and a child together or a father and a child together. They’re so powerful because you can see the bond between parent and child. I need to make it special to you. I need this to reflect what’s inside of you and then somehow get that onto the canvas. I suppose an artist working in any medium has this challenge but then I only have 13 colors to do it with.
Sean Kenney: Recently, I put together an exhibit that’s now touring botanical gardens around the United States that’s showing kids, plants, insects, birds in a new way, and I created 27 larger than life sculptures that use almost half a million Lego pieces. It took my team and I 5,000 hours to put all these sculptures together, some of which are as huge as an 8 foot tall hummingbird all the way through to a life size polar bear. Now you’ve got kids wandering around botanical gardens that would otherwise never be in a botanical garden which is also a really great thing. Whether it’s the message of what my particular piece is saying to you or simply the connection that you have with the piece because of your connection with Lego suddenly you’ve bonded with this in a way but you may not have if it was perhaps the same story told in a different medium. That is really special. It helps bring people out who otherwise might not be looking at art and then speaking to them in a special way.
Alex Kobbs: Every little thing you can think of, Lego has a means or way or shape and a color to create that if you so desire. I went to college for film but I realized there were a lot of limitations to shooting live action film. So the Lego’s are just a medium for me to get what I want to create across. I really, really love the video game culture and I made a stop motion film called Bricks of War based on Gears of War. So I made a two minute stop motion video basically emulating what it was like to play Gears of War, the behind the shoulder view, the camera zoom in. So, whenever I’m setting up a shot, I look at every little aspect of it, the lighting, the camera movement and I build custom dollies to move the camera. When I saw Call of Duty 3 coming out, I took their launch trailer and I said, “Hey, let me try to recreate this.” It was a lot of fun because it gave me so many things to work with. They have a train car rolling in a subway system and I had to represent different countries. Right now I’ve been using cotton balls to make explosion effects and things. And, the little characters, they have pivots, they have joints and you can really get across, not only movement but motion too with a Lego stop motion. It’s almost perfectly made for stop motion animation. There are films where I make it up beforehand or there are even sometimes where I make it up as I go. So every film is different and it will take anywhere between 6 weeks, sometimes it’ll take 3 months. Lego opens up all possibilities. I can literally create anything I want and I love everything about it.
Nathan Sawaya: People can relate to Lego because they have this connection to it. They have it at home. I think there’s something about that. I really wanted to create sculptures that hadn’t been seen before, you know almost take the Lego element out of it. There’s a sculpture called My Boy where it’s a figure holding a small child figure in its arms. When they debut this culture at a museum, a woman started crying. She was not seeing this as a toy. She was just seeing it as art. When I get to follow my passion and create art for myself, it is a lot of art that’s about metamorphosis. It’s about transition. It’s about liberation. There’s a piece called Yellow where this figure is tearing his chest open and Lego bricks are spilling out all over. And, people have said, is this about agony, what is this piece about? For me, it’s about opening one’s self up to the world. Red was a piece I did about transition. You see this figure and it’s emerging from this pile of bricks and is he reaching to the sky or is he sinking into the bricks. I actually don’t really reveal. I want the viewer to have a role when they’re looking at the art. I was trying to put my emotion into my work. Really create these sculptures that really had something to say. The fact that it’s made out of Lego it opens the art world up to this whole new audience that may never even think about taking a Saturday and go into an art museum. And yet because it’s made out of Lego, they’re drawn.
Sean Kenney: There’s nothing you can’t create with Lego toys and so every day is something new, something different, something fun.
Alex Kobbs: How many toys can you really say that you can say – “I can create anything.” It just has that broad span of all spectrums.
Nathan Sawaya: We’re really seeing a Lego art movement that’s emerging. More and more artists are using Lego as a traditional medium and I think it’s amazing.
End of interview.
I hope you enjoyed this transcript of the very cool video from PBS about LEGO, LEGO Art and LEGO and Stop Motion.
Stop Motion software is made all the more powerful with the addition of chromakey which is sometimes called Greenscreen. What is chromakey? Well think of the weatherman or even superman. A character in front of a blue or green screen in a studio is seen by the viewer with weather maps behind him in the case of the weatherman. Were in fact he only sees a blue / green screen, we see images of maps of states, clouds etc etc. And in the case of superman we see a sky and clouds moving in the background ..the cameraman in the studio sees an actor dangling from support wires in front of a green screen. So now with Stop Motion software such as iKITMovie you too can change the background.
Changing a background with stop motion software used to be difficult. In fact a lot of the stop motion software available does not have even have chromakey. So you would have to export your finished movie to another application that has chromakey in order to add backgrounds. And the stop motion software out there that does have chromakey is tricky to use at the best of times. Not only does iKITMovie stop motion software make it easier to use chromakey it also includes a library of still images and video images ready to use for backgrounds. When we reviewed stop motion software with chromakey the two areas which we felt that let them down were “A” only a single color could be chromakeyed out and “B” they did not give you any video or still images to work with. You had to search for appropriate images/video yourself either online or offline, resize them and import them in to your stop motion software. We felt that this slowed down they creative animation process. So we set about addressing these two issues. After over 14 months of development we believe we have addressed both these issues and more.
iKIT allows you to chromakey out up to 3 colors. This is really useful if you have any shading in your backdrop. While to the naked eye you may think that your blue / green backdrop looks all the same color throughout it invariably will have slight differences in shading of the blue/green ( whichever color you are using ). iKIT allows you to click on up to three different shades of your backdrop. This will ensure that all your blue or green is chromakeyed out correctly so that the background image or video can show up. So if you are looking for stop motion software that gives a great result without spending too much time on lighting etc then iKIT is for you. Its perfect for what you would expect from good stop motion software.
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